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Alicorn Apotheosis: An Ascension Analysis

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Alicorn Apotheosis: An Ascension Analysis

Fillies and Gentlecolts, it's been a week now since the season finale, and the discussion has not lost its steam. The advent of Princess Twilight has taken us all by surprise, and the episode has generated more questions, it seems, than answers. I'd like to take a bit of time to analyze what happened and put forth my own theories as to what we should take from this evolution. I intend to be thorough (read: long-winded) and proceed from some basic literary theory (read: think-y). There will be no tl;dr. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

Disclaimer: It shouldn't be necessary, but I think I should state, here and now, that I claim no special knowledge of where the show is headed or the writer's intentions. I haven't read up on any expanded universe history, nor have I followed the cast and crew on twitter or listened to their interviews. I've only just joined the herd in the past few months, so what I know, and what I will be interpreting, is the show itself. The opinions of the author are just that: opinions, founded solely in the madness which is his by birthright.

To begin, any analysis will have to be based on certain assumptions. There are a number of theories about the nature of Equestria, many of which are contradictory. Thus, I'm going to begin by laying out my base assumptions and the logic behind them.

On Alicorns and Princesses
One thing I noticed, even before the announcement of Princess Twilight, was the confluence of royalty and being an Alicorn. When it was just the Celestial Sisters, Luna and Celestia, it was nothing of consequence; both ruled, merely splitting the timing of their rulerships. It was a brilliant solution, ensuring that the inhabitants of Equestria would always have a guardian watching over them.

Princess Cadence, however, threw a bit of a wrench in the works. Now we have a princess who is only that: a princess. When we first see her in A Canterlot Wedding, she has no rulership, no apparent responsibilities, and no real talents of special note. In fact, all we know of her history is that she was Twilight Sparkle's foalsitter. That struck me as something odd. Out of all the courtiers, guards, servants, and other ponies under Celestia's command, she chose a princess to watch over a foal. A foal who had a highly protective big brother already. The inescapable conclusion is that this princess had no more pressing job. Without any information on her parentage, we have to assume that simply having wings and a horn made her a princess by default, even with no subjects or responsibilities to take on.

At this point, I will address a tangent issue: immortality. A widely held belief is that being an alicorn automatically grants an exceedingly long life. I don't hold to this view for one main reason: Cadence. When she took on the job of caring for Twilight, she was obviously still young enough to relate to the young filly on her level. Beyond her mental and emotional connection to a filly, she was also drawn much more like a younger pony. The difference is subtle, and primarily in the manestyle, but foalsitter Princess Cadence looks more like a teenager, while Crystal Princess Cadence is a young adult. She may be immortal, but all the indications are that she is not. And since the timeframe of the show is obviously going to be far less than the lifespan of the characters, I doubt we'll ever find out either way.

Back to the foalsitting princess concept. I will not say that looking after Twilight was an unimportant job; far from it. Twilight was a truly exceptional foal, as evidenced by her inherent talent, her obvious latent power (transforming two living ponies, levitating four others, and not just hatching, but maturing a dragon to several tons instantly by accident at the same time), and her voracious desire for knowledge, but my point remains: this was not a job that needed a princess to do it. Cue cries of "Trollestia!" However, there's another reason. Possibly, just possibly, Cadence was given the job not just for Twilight's benefit, but her own. Celestia would know, better than most, how incredibly lonely it can be as a princess. As an immortal, she would have long outlived any contemporaries she grew up with, and a princess, a ruler, really doesn't have anyone she can make friends with. She has a sister that she was forced to lock away, a student, another princess who is far more likely to be treated as a daughter or student herself, and subjects. As caring as she is, Celestia would never, ever wish that fate on another living soul.

Despite the age difference, Twilight was the closest to a friend Cadence would ever have. Being the student of (effectively) the Queen of Equestria and the most powerful sorceress as well might jade little Twilight into being unimpressed with a princess who has little more to do than braid her mane, push her on a swing, and play pat-a-hoof with her. Friends are, by definition, peers. Equals. People who can love you for who you are, not what you are. Most importantly, they're fundamentally unconcerned with what they can get from you. Celestia must have been overjoyed when her plan succeeded beyond her wildest expectations, netting little Cadence two friends at once. The key to a successful marriage is, first and foremost, friendship. Shining Armor loved his little sister more than anything, so it would be only natural that he would become friends with the other pony in the world who cared as much for her as he did. Over time, that friendship would blossom into even more, creating a love that would bear her up under the direst of circumstances.

Supporting the idea that Cadence had limited opportunities for friendship is her wedding. Chrysalis did a fundamentally poor job of disguising herself. She did not have Cadence's personality, bearing, or compassion. Even Celestia herself was fooled, meaning their relationship would not have been terribly close. There was just enough distance that Celestia could write off the change to "wedding jitters." Shining Armor was ensorcelled, so good luck there. Out of everyone else, only Twilight saw something was wrong, terribly wrong. So much so she was willing to make a scene in front of her friends and mentor.

Not even the bridesmares were especially close to Cadence. When thinking about who to include in the most important day of her young life, Cadence would naturally want those she loved most with her. When confronted with the ensorcelled bridesmares in the cavern below, Cadence's reaction speaks volumes; she did not pity them, or fear for them, or try to break through the enchantment. She was outright afraid of them. When Twilight tricked them into jumping over a cliff, her first and only response was relief. Not concern for their well-being, or whether they were hurt, or if they'd be alright when or if the enchantress was defeated. She smiled at Twilight and ran.

But wait, if friendship is so important, and Cadence had nothing better to do anyway, why not wait to elevate her to a Princess until after she made friends? I can only come to one logical conclusion: Celestia had no hoof in Cadence being an alicorn. She was (cue Lady Gaga) Born That Way. And since Celestia can't have elevated herself (obviously), both Celestial Sisters were likely born as they were as well; not just alicorns, but a species even further removed: Immortal Alicorns.



On Celestia and Friendship
I touched on this before, but Celestia could not have had any friends. I recently discovered "Lullaby for a Princess," and it is a heartbreakingly beautiful song. It is even sadder once I realized this fundamental truth. As pointed out before, Celestia has only one equal: her sister, Luna. As an equal, Celestia had no choice but to imprison her insane sister, and it was only via the Elements of Harmony that she managed that much. I say "she had no choice," although she did, actually, have a choice. Her other option was to be defeated, thrown down, and watch her people suffer under the iron hoof of an insane, jealous, and, deep down, terribly, terribly lonely mare. She could never defeat, truly overpower, her sister and break through the hatred that made her Nightmare Moon. With great power comes great responsibility; forced to choose between her love for her sister and the responsibility to guard her people, Celestia had to choose the latter.

Being a princess sucks.

Aside from Luna, Celestia has a student, a protege princess, and subjects. While the first two could become close to her, as daughters, perhaps, they would never be able to overcome the difference in age, power, wisdom, experience, and authority to truly relate to her on her own level. Without that fundamental connection, she could not have any friends, and thus, could not learn, personally, the power of friendship. In this case, the magic of friendship is not something that can be learned via theory; it must be experienced.

Along comes little Twilight. She adores Celestia, she craves knowledge about magic more than food or drink, and, heartbreakingly, she has little desire for friendship. She's too young, too naive to realize what a precious gift she's throwing away, and being made Celestia's personal student would have only compounded her isolation. Even in a land build on friendship, harmony, and love, there's social climbers who would see a young, innocent filly as just another steppingstone on their way up. A young, innocent filly with a personal relationship to the most powerful pony in the entire nation, socially, magically, and politically? A goldmine.
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At this point, I should say that assigning Princess Cadence as Twilight's foalsitter obviously wasn't solely for Cadence's benefit. Cadence is already a princess, and already under Celestia's personal aegis (presumably). With no personal interest in social climbing, Cadence would be uniquely situated to protect little Twilie from those unscrupulous souls.

Unfortunately, Cadence wasn't enough by herself. She was closER in age and temperament to Twilight, but that's not to say she was truly her peer. Obviously, manipulation of circumstances wasn't going to overcome Twilight's natural aloofness, so Celestia resorted to her only other option: authority. She all but ordered Twilight to make friends, and to reinforce that edict, she sent her to Ponyville. Not Manehattan, not Fillydelphia, but the most rural, bass-ackward, unsophisticated burg she could find. A place noticably lacking in social climbers, manipulators, and powermongers. Celestia was held in awe, as she was everywhere, but a student is, well, just a student. Let's be nice and call her an arcane researcher. A historian. Or, as Rainbow Dash so affectionately refers, an "egghead." Yes, that was an inspired, and likely very well planned decision. A place where Twilight could become her own mare, have her own household, and make friends so comfortable with her that they are willing to kid around with her, unconcerned about offending her.

Of course, saving Twilight from a lifetime of lonesome spinsterhood was likely not the only reason Celestia was interested in her making friends. After a thousand years, Celestia had to have known the power of friendship, even if she could not experience it herself. She must have witnessed countless acts of selfless sacrifice, heroism, bravery, generosity, joy (ok, ok, I'm about to start recounting the traits of the Mane 6, and we don't want to go there) all for the sake of a loved one. To have used the Elements of Harmony, without assistance, means she had to have a basic understanding of how it worked. Whether she knew or merely suspected is an unanswerable question, but the coincidence of Twilight being sent to a place where she could make friends, being ordered to do so, near where the Elements of Harmony were waiting, on the precipice of Nightmare Moon's return strain credibility. "Once is happenstance, twice is circumstance, three times in enemy (or friendly, in this case) action" is the saying that comes to mind. Celestia was strong enough, with the aid of the Elements, to overcome and imprison her sister. She knew that, she'd done it a millenium ago. Why not repeat it?

Celestia was lonely. So very lonely. Despite being immortal, supreme ruler, ultimate sorceress, she was still a pony. She'd been bearing the burden of two ponies, ruling day and night, for a thousand years. She didn't just want her sister back; she needed her, desperately. She arranged events to play out just as she hoped, and then was sent into exile. By this point, wracked with guilt, loneliness, and desperation, she likely went willingly, even gladly, as a chance to rest and perhaps even atone for her failure. Failure to love her sister enough to prevent Luna's corruption, and then failure to redeem her. It might not have even been possible in the first place, but to someone as dedicated to her responsibility as Celestia, it would certainly have felt like a failure.

In doing this, Celestia took a hideous risk. Twilight could have failed. Her sister might have grown even more powerful in exile. Any number of things could have gone wrong. But they did not, and, more importantly, it opened Twilight up to new possibilities. Once she realized that friendship had a magic all its own, she would have to pursue that knowledge with all her heart. If Celestia had taken on Nightmare Moon and triumphed, Twilight never would have found out this magic, made friends, or harnessed the Elements of Harmony. That would have been a tragic waste, because Twilight Sparkle, whose gift is magic, whose drive for learning is unmatched, and who is, at heart, just a normal unicorn, is the only one who can learn this magic. Celestia would like to, but, as I said, has no friends. Other ponies have friends, but don't understand magic the way Celestia or Twilight do. Most likely never even realize that it is magic. An opportunity to learn about and harness this new power might never show up again.

There's a common trend I'm noticing with all these decisions of Celestia: she never has just one reason for making these choices, and never just one good outcome. She's thinking like a princess, a ruler. It's almost Machiavellian, but benevolent. It also indicates that the princess, and by extension, the writers, think highly enough of us to slip this into the show without feeling they have to beat us over the head with it. Or maybe I'm just overthinking things.

Wild speculation time: is it possible that Celestia knew that this power would be needed, and soon? It certainly seems convenient that Twilight was tasked with finding and understanding a new form of magic just in time for several Epic Bad Guys to show up which Celestia was ill-equipped to deal with. The redemption of Nightmare Moon, the defeat, then release and rehabilitation of Discord, the rise of the Changelings and Queen Chrysalis, and the return of the Crystal Empire and King Sombra in an incredibly short timeframe is indicative of a very rough time for Equestria in the near future. Especially given that Celestia thought it was a good (or perhaps, necessary) idea to risk literally everything over the redemption of two such powerful, potentially destructive enemies. Enemies which had proven they were capable of out-muscling, out-magicking, or, in Discord's case, out-thinking the Sun Princess. But that's another essay.

Addendum to wild speculation: the Mane 6, not just Twilight Sparkle, are the Death Star. They are an ultimate weapon. Maybe not the correct terminology for a show about friendship and happiness, but there it is. Nightmare Moon made Celestia disappear without anyone noticing. Discord outsmarted her. Chrysalis went head-to-head with her and trounced her handily. Sombra popped up in the far north where Celestia was too busy or, possibly, physically unable to go. She sends in the Mane 6 and they triumph. Every. Single. Time. Luna and Discord redeemed when Celestia only managed to imprison, Chrysalis at full power and with her entire army at hand get banished, Sombra reincarnated gets shattered, his remnant power exiled. Conclusion: Twilight Sparkle and her friends are not just the equal of Celestia in power; they are stronger, united.



On History
This section should be relatively short, as we have relatively little to go on. I guess I should say I have relatively little to go on, as I haven't read any expanded universe history, canon or fanon. I'm not sure I could discern the difference, so I'll just stick with what I know: the show.

"Hearth's Warming Eve" is the only pre-Equestria history shown on the show, and it's a stylized play, so I can't be sure entirely how factual it is. This uncertainty is compounded by the fact that we know Equestria has existed for over a thousand years (the duration of Luna's imprisonment), meaning it's probably about as accurate as your average Christmas pageant is at depicting life in the outer provinces of the Roman Empire. The earlier sections of this essay can be considered inference based on implication; any interpretive history of pre-Equestria can only be considered inference based on implication based on supposition.

There's not a whole lot to draw from the play, but two things did jump out at me. Firstly, Celestia and Luna do not pre-date Equestria, nor does the alicorn rulership. Secondly, Starswirl the Bearded does pre-date Equestria.

The first can be noted by its absence. Not only are Celestia and Luna completely absent, but there are no mentions of alicorns at all, and the primary task of the Celestial Sisters, raising the sun and moon, is instead handled by the unicorns. Moreover, the ability of the alicorns to lead is, presumably, based on their ability to relate to all three forms of pony. Alicorns fly like pegasi, use magic like unicorns, and walk like earth ponies. I'll note that, yes, unicorns and pegasi both have legs and can walk, so earth ponies seem more to be defined by what they lack than any special gift. I can't really address the unicorn one, but I will note this; how often do you see a pegasus walk? It's actually surprisingly uncommon. Rainbow Dash, even Fluttershy, the pegasus with acrophobia, tend to hover even at rest. Celestia doesn't.

But I digress. My point is that Equestria was founded before Celestia became princess, possibly even before she was born. It doesn't seem to be important to the understanding of how Princess Twilight came about (the ostensible point of my excessive verbosity (that means I'm a bighuge windbag ;) )), but I assure you, I'll come back to that.

The other point is that Starswirl the Bearded did, in fact, exist prior to the founding of Equestria, as he taught Clover the Clever, advisor to Princess Platinum the unicorn. It's very possible that Starswirl did not even live to see the founding of Equestria, but we don't address the concept of death in a children's show, so we'll just conveniently ignore that fact. If he did survive, it would likely be as a result of a spell he cast which might have transformed him into an immortal trickster spirit dedicated to sowing chaos and havoc. I speak, of course, of the theory that Starswirl and Discord are one and the same. Ok, I lied, I have read some fan theories.

The only conclusion I can draw is that either Celestia never met Starswirl the Bearded, or if she had, it was not until well after he had descended into madness and chaos. If so, then any meeting she would have had with him would be less likely to involve discussing magical theory over tea and crumpets and more likely to involve magical death-blasts, chocolate rain, and the inevitable petrification of the loser. This will be important later.


Get To The Point, Already!
I did warn you this would be a long read. But I think I've laid in the basic groundwork for an analysis of the Magical Mystery Cure. And here we go.

Act I - Occupation Dislocation
As we open the show, Twilight is singing about how wonderful everything is going. The sun is shining, people are going about their business, and "everything is certainly fine!" Poor Twilight. After all her reading, and after all her adventures, she should know better than to give Fate a straight line like that. Rainbow Dash dumps a raincloud on her head just as she's reaching the big finish.

Except it's not Rainbow Dash. It's Rarity, doing her very best at doing Rainbow Dash's job and failing miserably. Not only does she have Rainbow Dash's job, but her cutie mark as well. Twilight then runs to each of her friends in turn to confirm the horrible truth: they have all switched lives and destinies. Furthermore, Rarity's offhand comment that she's "doing what she's done since it (her cutie mark) appeared" is telling; not only have they switched marks, jobs, lives, and destinies, but even their memories have been modified. Not switched, mind; Fluttershy later says she's going "back to Cloudsdale," and not the rock farm. She still remembers being Fluttershy, but being Fluttershy with Pinkie Pie's choices. Clearly, whatever switched her friends is highly sophisticated and very subtle in application.

This motif of subtlety will be repeated throughout the episode. A great deal is happening in this 22 minutes, and the writers used a lot of literary devices to cram as much information in as possible. The very next device shows this as well; the use of In Medias Res.

In Medias Res literally translates to "in the middle of things." In stories, it's a way to drop the audience into the most action-packed part of the story to hook them immediately. The main reasons to use this idiom are either to engender a sense of confusion in the audience that is shared by the protagonist (ie: Twilight Sparkle) so the viewer can feel a greater sense of empathy with the character, or else because the writer has a LOT of information to fill in and wants to grab the audience's attention quickly before switching to C-SPAN mode. If the story opens with a lot of dry, boring backstory, the audience is likely to switch the channel, close the book, and pick up something else more immediately gripping.

However, there's a third reason to choose to begin In Medias Res. A great deal of literature has used the convention, from Beowulf to the Hobbit. The Hobbit, of course, begins with Bilbo beginning on an epic adventure, but the story truly begins decades before, with Smaug dropping in on the Lonely Mountain for a bit of apartment shopping. We don't get that backstory before the dwarves start singing, however, which isn't until after dinner. Also, it's a stylistic choice which crosses genres; it can reach everything from Record of Lodoss War to practically any James Bond film you care to name.

In this case, I believe the choice was made deliberately for all three reasons. Twilight Sparkle is clearly out of her depth when confronted with what happened to Rarity, so much so that she immediately runs all over Ponyville just to confirm that it has affected all her friends. You would think she'd know after three or so. Second, it drops us right into the main action, rather than getting to see Twilight open some mail and cast a spell that doesn't work. Boring. And finally, it ties into all that older, more established literature to let us, the audience know, that Big Things Are Happening.

After establishing the What Happened, we get to see Why It Happened: Twilight gets her assignment from the princess in the mail. Heedless of the risks, she casts a spell that even Celestia doesn't know the results of, just to find out. An unfinished spell, so it wouldn't have even had the effect intended by its maker. This is, unfortunately, a basic trait of Twilight. She so desires knowledge that she will take any risk to get it. This time, though, that risk didn't hurt her; it hurt her friends. That knowledge is a devastating blow; risking her own hide is one thing, but this affected those she loved, without their knowledge or consent. Seeing her own selfishness in this way was a powerful moment, culminating in one of the most powerful songs of the season, if not the entire show, "I Have To Find a Way." It's less than a minute, but shows an incredible development of maturity for our Twilie. It's an acceptance of the blame for what went wrong, an understanding of the consequences, and an assumption of the responsibility to fix her terrible mistake.

This scene also shows a maturation of the show. Until now, continuity has been barely touched on, if not avoided entirely. Shows have been created as standalones with only the barest linking threads. The CMC had to be formed before they could begin crusading, of course, just as Twilight had to come to Ponyville before adventuring with her friends, but the majority of the episodes could be shuffled at will not just within a season, but between seasons with no real confusion being caused. In this moment, Spike references both the season opener, with the spell she used to restore her friends' memories, as well as the season 2 episode "The Cutie Pox" when he references Zecora's cure for the same.

Unfortunately, neither of those solutions will work. Her friends haven't forgotten their friendships, they've just been mixed around. Likewise, they don't have false cutie marks; the marks are real, just on the wrong ponies. What is needed is a way to reset the ponies' destinies the way they should be. And musing on this truth, Twilight comes to a brilliant solution. Magic has caused this problem, but it cannot solve this problem. This is a watershed moment for both Twilight Sparkle and the show. Until now, Twilight has solved her problems in one of two ways: either she has used her magic, or she has solved problems with her friends, without magic. Until now, though, she hasn't solved problems using the Magic of Friendship. Prior to this, the "magic of friendship" was an idea, a belief, an ephemeral thing which gave her and her friends the strength and conviction to follow through, but it was not a force by itself, unless it was channeled through the Elements of Harmony. When Twilight has been challenged by magical problems, though, she responds with magic, because it's what she knows. When dueling with Trixie, or faced with an Ursa Minor, that's her first recourse. Even with Trixie, when she fell back to relying on her friends, it was her friends she relied on, not the inherent magic behind their friendship.

This time, though, she does not. She realizes that her magic, arcane magic, was not the solution. Twilight has always known how to use magic, but faced with the devastating consequences of using it recklessly and without thought for who else it may effect has taught her something Celestia had never managed: when not to use it.

In this moment, Twilight glows with a brilliant aura as she learns the true nature of Friendship Magic. This is a power distinct from her own inherent Unicorn Magic, as shown by the fact that her horn does not glow. In unicorns, the horn is the focal point of their magic; when they cast a spell, it glows with an arcane light of a color defined by the pony herself, and the power of that light is directly proportional to the strength of the spell involved. When using basic telekinesis, Twilight's horn glows faintly; when she uses multiple spells simultaneously to subdue the Ursa Minor, it glows brilliantly, even blindingly. But in this moment, recognizing the important of her friends, she glows with an aura so bright that Spike cannot look at her, but her horn remains completely inert.

She then harnesses this new power to help her friends, and along the way, helps them to find this power within themselves. She convinces her friends each in turn to help one another, then steps back and does one of the hardest things she likely has ever done. She does nothing. In helping each other, each of her friends end up helping themselves as well, rediscovering a joy and purpose in life they thought lost forever. By helping friends do the tasks they thought they were supposed to do, but couldn't alone, they each found their own true heart's desire. Which brings us to the nature of cutie marks.

"Magical Mystery Cure" has caused a great deal of discussion on the nature of cutie marks, destiny, and choice in Equestria. At first blush, it seems that cutie marks absolutely dominate a pony's destiny, whether they choose it or not. The shuffling of cutie marks and destinies seems to reinforce that belief. I have a contrary theory; choice, free will, is the determining factor in both a pony's destiny and their cutie marks.

It seems like a premise that's ridiculous on its face. The swapped ponies are obviously not enjoying their lives or their occupations; why would they choose to do something they are pre-eminently unsuited for? The most likely answer is that they either do not realize they have that choice, or else feel they made it long ago. If you look around your own life, you'll likely see many people who have ended up with the lives they have not because of the choices they made, but because of the choices they feel they never had. Such mismatched lives are fodder for so many stories we love to tell; the football captain who loved the ballet, the hockey player who was actually a pro-class golfer, the team of also-ran poor kids who just needed a coach who cared and decent equipment to reach the top. All that's required is belief in yourself, a crystallizing moment of choice, and the support of your friends. That's what happened when each pony helped their friends with a task they could not handle, despite a cutie mark and a lifetime of memories telling them they should do this one thing. When faced with what they were as opposed to what they wanted to be, they chose. With the power of friendship, that choice stuck, and the imprint on their flank changed to what it was meant to be.

No mention of cutie marks can pass without a mention of Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, and Apple Bloom. At this point it is painfully, glaringly obvious to us and everyone in Ponyville exactly what each of them is suited for. Scootaloo is never happier than on her scooter, Sweetie Belle is the most versatile vocalist in town, and Apple Bloom has only just recently come into her own as a master of design. "Why," I hear all of us wonder, "can they not see it? And why doesn't anyone else just tell them?" The fundamental answer is that no one can tell them. Twilight came as close as possible by hinting around it in "The Show Stoppers," but no one can tell you who you are. You have to find that one out for yourself.

In the case of our little Cutie Mark Crusaders, choice is again at play. They want, desperately, a cutie mark, any cutie mark. They're not out to find who they are, but simply to stop being social pariahs. When they go out crusading, they aren't focused on the journey, but on the destination, and that is a sure route to failure, over and over again. Luckily, they seem to be having fun doing it, and exposing themselves to a great many new experiences, so when they do find themselves, they will have a far greater wealth of experience to make that decision from.

Don't believe choice is central to the gaining of a cutie mark? I'll prove it with two of our least favorite fillies: Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon. Most ponies are defined by who they are and what they love. Rainbow Dash loves speed and winning. Twilight Sparkle is supremely adept at magic. Rarity is perfect at design, not just clothing, but jewelry. Either one alone would make a worthy mark, and Rarity showed a stunning fashion sense even before getting her mark, but was still unsatisfied. For Rarity, the perfection in combining both was the only way to make her truly satisfied.

On the other hoof, little Tiara is defined by pride, entitlement, a sense of superiority, and being bossy (though not, necessarily, with any actual authority). Silver Spoon backs her up with just as much superiority and entitlement, but with a sickening degree of subservience to her chosen overlord. When deprived of leadership, little Spoon seems to be at a loss for what to do with herself. That's a pretty sad way to define oneself. One can only assume that these two fillies actively chose those paths, and fairly early on, considering how smug they are over their cutie marks.

And so, having wielded the full power of Friendship Magic to right what she messed up so badly with arcane magic, Twilight Sparkle brings her friends to the library so they can help her finish the task set before her: to finish the masterwork spell which eluded the greatest unicorn mage of all time and stymied even Princess Celestia herself. Twilight realizes the fundamental flaw in the spell, that it is designed to be fed from a single spellcaster's own reserves and with no assistance from anyone else. She rewrites the spell, and confident in her ability and with the full consent and assistance of her friends, casts it. Even though she's not sure exactly what it is supposed to do, she follows through, confident that anything based on the love of her friends could never do her harm. A blinding flash of light appears and we go straight to...

Act II-By Your Powers Combined
Twilight reappears in a starry void, alone and confused. She does not know where she is, or even what "here" is. Celestia appears from the void and expresses her gratitude to, congratulations to, and pride in Twilight in song. She states that Twilight has done "what has never been done before, not even Starswirl the Bearded," and that Twilight is ready to "fulfill her destiny."

She never actually states what either of those are, however. The general belief is that the accomplishment is that she finished the spell, fixed her friends' fouled fates, and transports herself to this mysterious "other realm," and that her reward, and her destiny, is to become a princess. The evidence, however, indicates otherwise.

Let's look at the spells. First up is Starswirl's original, unfinished masterwork:
"From one to another,
Another to one,
A mark of one's destiny singled out, alone, fulfilled."
The unfinished version mixed cutie marks, choices, and destinies. The last line indicates that the purpose of the spell is to elevate a single pony's destiny above all others. Without an understanding of friendship, Starswirl would have likely believed that destiny, like any other power, is a finite resource. It cannot be created from nothing, so if he wanted to create a greater destiny, a more powerful soul, with the power to fulfill such an incredible fate, that power would have to come from somewhere else. Or, to be more precise, somepony else. Pure speculation, but it seems very likely this spell was intended to create a single, supreme creature able to chain Fate to its will by stealing the fates from several others as a power source.

Since we know Starswirl predates Equestria and the Celestial Sisters, it's very possible he had intended to create a monarch capable of uniting the warring tribes and bringing peace and unity to all ponykind. Sadly, without friendship, even the completed spell could never have achieved this aim.

The incomplete spell simply swapped destinies, choices, and lives, and then altered memories to fit. Even this simple swap caused deep heartache and dissatisfaction, even sorrow not just in the ponies affected, but everyone around them. If the completed spell had managed to combine multiple destinies and lives into a single creature, the disjointed, conflicting choices and memories would have only driven its recipient insane, likely causing them to lash out and cause the same chaos they felt inside. What would such a poor soul look like, a Frankenstein monster of cobbled-together fates?
img-1206704-2-Discord.jpg
Oh, dear.

And so the spell remained, incomplete and unable to be completed. The spell is arcane in nature; even if somepony with an understanding of Friendship Magic appeared, they would also need to be a gifted unicorn spellcaster to be able to even cast the spell in the first place. Which brings us back to Twilight Sparkle and why she was sent to Ponyville in the first place: to make friends. If she could make friends, true friends, and through them learn to wield the Magic of Friendship, then she alone would have the potential to finish the spell, even without knowing what it did.
However, making a spell, or even fixing a broken spell, is not something that's "never been done before." Unicorns do it all the time, especially when they discover their innate talents. Rarity created a gem-finding spell, which she had obviously never researched before; Twilight had to learn it from Rarity, not a book. Likewise, if Celestia had managed to transport herself to the same starscape as Twilight, then that was nothing unique either. What, then, would make Twilight unique?

Starswirl's completed spell. I know, I just finished saying that writing a new spell, fixing a broken one, or casting it is no big deal, and it really wasn't. It wasn't the fact that she made the spell, but how she made it that matters. When the Mane 6 defeated Nightmare Moon, neither Twilight's horn nor Rarity's was glowing. Likewise, they were not casting spells as Discord lay defeated and returning to stone. In both cases, the ponies were wielding the pure power of their friendship, channeled through the Elements of Harmony. This time, however, Twilight's horn was glowing as she cast the spell, which then caused the power of the Elements to ignite, blasting her into the aether. In that moment, Twilight cast a spell that was both arcane unicorn magic and Friendship magic woven together as a single incantation. And just what was the result of that spell?

"From all of us together,
together we are friends.
with the marks of our destinies made one,
there is magic without end."
"From all of us" is the key phrase. Friendship is about giving, not taking. All six ponies gave, freely and without reservation, determined to make sure their friends lives, and by extension, their destinies were the best they could possibly be. Among friends, the total is truly greater than the sum of its parts, and this spell harnessed that unity, "together we are friends, with the marks of our destinies made one." By combining their destinies through friendship, they pour out "magic without end," generating a greater destiny for everyone involved. Twilight's spell, rather than stealing or switching destinies, instead fused them, making a single, wonderful future for everyone involved.

A future destiny that involved Twilight being a princess. It was the spell which transformed her into an alicorn. If that's so, though, why did she not appear in the void as an alicorn? Why the song and dance with Celestia? And why did Celestia cast that spell to make her an alicorn?

Twilight did not know what the spell was supposed to do. She wrote a spell involving friendship and destiny, wrapping up Starswirl's original intent into an entirely new package. Awakening in a new, mutated body could have damaged her psyche, especially if she awoke alone, in a strange place, with no idea of how it had even happened. My interpretation is that the starry void is a mindscape, and Celestia appeared to her to ease her transition to her new body and new life. She began with a cryptic message about what Twilight had managed to achieve, recounted all her past adventures which had led her to this moment, and then told her that she had grown up and it was "time to fulfill [her] destiny." Suitably prepared, mentally, for the change, Twilight gets her wings.

But wait, didn't Celestia cast that spell to make Twilight an alicorn? No, she didn't. I've made a habit of repeating myself that Celestia cannot use Friendship Magic. This is where that point comes home. Even in the void, when Celestia uses magic to page through Starswirl's book, her horn glows and the book is surrounded by an aura of the same color as Celestia's magic: sunlight yellow. At the end of Celestia's song, though, she's surrounded by a white glow and, most importantly, her horn does not glow. The starburst aura, while very impressive and dramatic, is not a spell being cast. Beyond that, the spell effect is also the wrong color. Twilight notices a glow on her chest, just over her heart in fact, which is the same color as every other spell she has cast. This spell, her spell, is the one which envelops her against a backdrop of another dramatic white starburst and gives her wings.
img-1206704-3-Celestia2.png
It's a very subtle distinction, but it is also one which could not be expressed in words, not without completely destroying the effect. Twilight made herself an alicorn, and a princess. It was not an edict forced upon her, but a choice she made when she decided to cast Starswirl's spell and trust in the fellowship of her friends. She may not have understood the full ramifications of that choice, but that's no different than so many other choices that are made each day. Twilight's decision to make friends was the only reason she could defeat Nightmare Moon, which is an outcome she did not even see until the moment was upon her. That unforseen consequence changed the fate of not only herself and her friends, but an entire kingdom. A fate that led to this transformation.

In her moment of ascension, Twilight is transported back to Ponyville so she might share her joy with her friends. Their reaction is one you would expect from such a tight herd of friends; they are elated. Twilight has become an alicorn. What's notable here is what is missing, for her friends are not awed, frightened, or reticent. Rainbow Dash gives her a big hug and cheers over getting a new wingmare, Rarity compliments her beautiful wings, and Pinkie Pie throws a party wearing fake wings and a "horn" party hat. To her friends, Princess Twilight Sparkle is still the same Twilight they know and love.

Then along comes Celestia and ruins the moment. She declares Twilight a princess, says she encompasses all the traits of her friends, and then bows to her, throwing off a line about how everyone is her student now. Since the princess bows to Twilight, everyone else feels compelled to as well, utterly destroying the camaraderie Twilight has with her friends. It's preposterous to think a group of friends would bow to one of their own, or that the ruler of a nation would give precedence to a young, newly-minted princess with no rulership of her own, right?
img-1206704-4-Bow_to_no_one.png
Oh, wait.
Celestia was not making an offhand statement when she said that Twilight was a teacher now; Twilight was the sole heir to not one, but two forms of magic, mixed and blended such that the two together were far more either one alone. She has gained a power not even Celestia herself can equal, though she live a thousand years more, and she has done more than create a spell or elevate herself to royalty; Twilight Sparkle has done the impossible. That is why they bow to her, not to Princess Twilight Sparkle, but to their friend, Twilight Sparkle, who has walked into the fire without flinching, given everything for the sake of her friends, and who has triumphed over impossible odds.

Honoring her, though, neither lessens themselves nor greatens Twilight; it simply acknowledges her accomplishments. Likewise, gaining the defining traits of her friends does not make them superfluous to her life, any more than Rainbow Dash showing compassion to the other competitors in "Wonderbolts Academy" makes her qualified to take over Fluttershy's task of caring for the animals. That point was made painfully clear already.

Almost immediately, we get reassurance that our Twilight hasn't changed a bit. She's obviously acutely uncomfortable with all the adulation, based on the nervous smile she puts on, and in typical Twilight fashion, she seeks to get a handle on things the only way she knows how: from a book. Celestia assures her she has time to learn and grow into her role. Reassured but still uncertain, everyone heads to Canterlot for...

Act III-The Dawn of Princess Twilight
All the princesses, Celestia, Cadence, and Luna are present on the dais along with Twilight's closest friends. Celestia opens the ceremony by praising Twilight's dedication, faithfulness, and accomplishments since moving to Ponyville, noting especially that Twilight was responsible for reuniting Celestia with Luna. Her first accomplishment in Ponyville was probably not even her greatest feat, considering the foes she has fought since that day, but it's obvious from the shared look between the Celestial Sisters, it is certainly the one she is most grateful for.

Hush, you in the back. I know she couldn't have managed it without her friends. This is Twilight's special day. Don't ruin it.

She then goes on to state, finally, what Twilight did that was so special: she created "new magic." Not "a new spell," but very specifically "new magic," an entirely new form of magic, and this breakthrough proves that she is ready to take on the responsibilities which comes with being a princess. Twilight enters in a choral procession and is crowned with what appears to be a modified Element of Harmony crown.

Throughout the coronation and following procession, everything about Twilight seems designed to assure us, the viewers, as well as the residents of Equestria that this is still little Twilie, all grown up. During the coronation itself, she wears a simple, understated gown with none of the elaborate finery or jewelry of the other princesses; even her friends' outfits are more elaborate than Twilight's. It seems that Princess Twilight has the same fashion sense that Birthday Twilight had in "Sweet and Elite." When crowned, the very first thing she does, before looking at the assembled courtiers, is look to her friends, perhaps for reassurance, which all five immediately offer in their own way, with smiles, winks, waves, or a simple head-bob. Only then does she turn to the assembled masses, certain that at least one part of her life remains just the same.

When she steps onto the balcony, she is obviously out of her depth, waving weakly with the same nervous grin on her face that we saw back at the end of Act II, and she has the be prompted before she realizes the crowds are expecting a speech. On this, Twilight's big day, when the assembled masses of Canterlot are hanging on her every word, her first speech as a crowned princess gives all honor, all glory, and all praise to her friends. Without them, she would never have understood friendship, discovered a new form of magic, and never would have proven worthy to become a princess. Without them, she says, she "would not be here today." And then, in a reverse of the end of Act II, on the day of her coronation, and in front of everyone in Canterlot, Twilight bows to her friends.

After so much interaction with the public, Twilight finally gets a moment alone with her friends and big brother. Well, "alone" is a relative term; there's still a good number of ponies present. In a nod to traditional Stoic male stereotypes, Shining Armor isn't crying, per se, it's just "liquid pride." He's not so manly, however, to disdain hugging his sister in public, even if she is Equestria's newest princess. Her friends follow this display with their own public displays of affection, proving that crowds who might disapprove of such lese majeste are not even a concern to anyone involved, least of all the princess. Group hug!

Everyone loves a parade, so that's what comes up next. Crowds of adoring subjects waving and shouting, riding in a majestic chariot. it's the sort of thing that could turn any pony's head. In ancient Rome, triumphant generals would have a servant in the chariot with them during parades; the sole purpose of this underling would be to remind the commander that glory is fleeting, and he, too is only mortal. Twilight doesn't seem to need that reminder; she abandons her chariot almost immediately so that she might walk alongside her friends, sharing the adulation with those who mean the most to her.

It would seem this moment was crafted to be the exact opposite of Twilight's arrival in Ponyville. On the day of her coronation, Twilight was the center of attention, in a parade, and she chooses to abandon her transport so that she could walk with her friends. In contrast, her arrival in Ponyville was on an ordinary day, with no celebration going on. She arrived alone and unremarked, but in a royal chariot. Ponyville has a train, Twilight has ridden it several times since that day, but on that day, she alone was special and unique, and no one noticed, despite her resplendent arrival. Now, when she is being noticed and lauded, she abandons the chariot she once rode in so conspicuously. Our Twilight has certainly matured a great deal since then.

And in a final, personal message from the writers, actors, and producers, we are told, once more, that "everything is going to be fine" as Twilight reprises her opening song. It's a neat way to wrap things up the way it began, but it's something more, here. It's a belief that, even though everything changes, that doesn't mean it has to go wrong, or worse, end. It's a shining hope that the future can always be better than the present. It's a hope I like to share.

Edited by Codex
  • Brohoof 23

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I-I just read that entire thing. Then I made my friend, who WAS a absolute Twilicorn hater, read it. He no longer is.  Are you sure your mark is not in analysis?

 

You, Sir or Madam, deserve a brohoof. And a standing ovation.

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1 brohoof is simply not adequete. You put my entire thoughts about the episode and tbh the entire show into words that I could not come up with myself.

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Man, this answered everything I was confused about... and more.  Even if it was speculation in some areas, at least now I have some idea as to why this is that and that is this.  And you've only been a brony for how long, a few months?  Not only that, you've been on the site for only about two days.

 

I believe deserves to be put on the "Most brohoofed content" page.  I hope more contribute to this goal.

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A very thorough analysis, I applaud you. I would however expand on your theory about princesses and the roles of Twilight and Cadance.

First of all I am of the belief that Celestia and Luna can't be much older than a 1000 years.

Why do I believe this?

Well... let us assume that this is not the case, but rather that Luna and Celestia has ruled for many hundreds of thousands of years.

If this was the case one would assume that Luna and Celestia would both be wise and used to ruling as well as balanced in their work.

That Luna suddenly rebelled from envy is something that would make more sense if they had ruled but for a short time.

Say a couple of months.

Luna would be young, full of passion and Celestia would not be wise enough to see and stop her sisters growing envy.

This theory is strengthen further from Lunas behavior in the episode "Luna Eclipsed" where she clearly is unsure how she should behave in her position as a ruler. 

If she had thousands of years of experience I believe she should have been able to adjust better to her situation than she did.

Also throughout the series Luna takes a more secondary role, letting Celestia doing the speeches as well standing in the center.

This imply in my mind that Luna recognizes Celestia as far more experienced and confident in such matters, and therefore lets her take the lead even though they are supposed to be equals. Celestia accepts this even though she probably wants Luna to be an equal in all things, not to repeat past mistakes.

 

 

Then if all this is true, then there have to have been others before the sisters, responsible for the moon and sun.

From this I would say that its the cutiemarks of the sun and moon (+the flowing mane) that are the indicators of rulership and godhood.

And that these are hereditary and time based!

(Remember that cutimarks can be added upon, when a new talent is discovered. Cadance added the crystal heart on her flank S3E2)

The two ponies in power would find and train suitable heirs when their time was moving closer to the end.

 

Suddenly Cadance presence makes sense as well as the fact that Cadance was chosen as Twilights foalsitter.

Celestia obviously wanted them to be friends since they would be spending over a thousand years supporting each other.

Also I don't believe Celestia would ever take a student unless she knew she would not outlive that student.

 

If you can think of more arguments for or against this, Please let me know.

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I just rewatched the wedding episodes and one thing I noticed was that Twilight did not have her cutie mark during the Cadence flashbacks, meaning that they take place before Twilight's entrance exam and before she met celestia .  Also, Cadence mentions that Twilight was her favorite filly to sit for, meaning that there were others.  To me this just says that Cadence loved looking after foals in general, not because Celestia assigned her to watch over them specifically.

 

But everything else I agree with ;)

Edited by GrifCannon

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Oh, thank Celestia! I was beginning to think I'd written this solely for my own benefit; I'm so glad others are finding it useful. I was afraid I'd made it too long.

 

As for my cutie mark, why do you think I picked the avatar I did? ;) My talent is not specifically analysis, but learning. I love learning everything I can. To learn, you must understand, and to understand, you must be able to analyze. Which sometimes leads to overthinking things.

 

I agree on the probable lifetime of the sisters, but I think the falling-out probably took longer to occur. Years, possibly decades at the outside, rather than months. I have absolutely nothing to base this on but gut feeling, however.

 

There are several points that could be expanded upon, as this is still mostly a rough draft I pounded out in about ten hours. It could use more polish, and the preliminary sections could easily be split off into separate treatises twice their current size. The elisode analysis itself could be expanded as well; by the time I got to it, I just wanted to finish it and be done. Also, I wasn't sure the effort required for polishing was needed, since there would be no point in finishing it up if no one read it. If I have the time in future, I may work on this some more.

 

Good catch on Twilight's flashback. I'm not sure I agree with your conclusion that Cadence was watching Twilight pre-test, but you have a strong argument. I would chalk it up to artistic differences, or even inattention to detail on the animator's part (I noticed a few discrepancies in other areas during my research), but you can put that down to me being unwilling to re-evaluate my pet theories. Still, the point of this thesis was to spark discussion, so I do want to hear your thoughts!

 

A final note I intended to append at the end was my personal belief that this episode was created the way it was because of a combination of a short season and Hasbro waiting until the last moment to pull the trigger on Season 4. I call it the Whedon Effect.

 

MLP episodes usually have very little nuance or subtext; what you see is what you get. This ep, however, was ALL subtext and nuance. One reason is likely because it was the only way to fit it all in, but also the writers wanted to leave a lot of wiggle room for the future. If they had explicitly stated anything I said above, it would be canon, no ifs, ands, or buts. Leaving everything up to interpretation means they can come back and say they never intended anything of the sort (even if they really did).

 

Oh, sorry, missed the part about Hereditary Celestial Sisters. My personal opinion is that Celestia and Luna are the first Celestial Sisters, directly succeeding the Unicorns as the keepers of Day and Night. If you look at our own world, 1000 years is a LONG time for a nation to survive (this isn't Star Wars, after all ;) ). I would guess that Equestria isn't a great deal older than that. How they came about is anyone's guess; if I had to hazard one, they were likely conceived shortly after that first Hearth's Warming Eve in the newfound harmony of the tribes coming together.

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In response to Grifcannon:

 

The reason Twilight did not have her cutie mark during the Cadence flashbacks is hopefully an animation mistake. 

But even if that is not the case, it can be easily resolved by Celestia knowing of Twilights destiny before she got her cutiemark.

How could she know? Maybe she sensed it in Twilight in meeting when twilight was to young to remember. Or maybe she knew what year Twilight would be born and had Cadance sit for all the fillies born that year. Or Cadance was to sit for all unicorns with a strong bloodline? Maybe Celestia in all her subtlety suggested to Cadance the idea of being a foalsitter, knowing that she might encounter the heir. Or maybe there is simply a prophecy. The point is, we can get around those problems by wriggling a bit.

 

In response to Codex:

Oh how I would love to cut your belly open, so that I may learn the secrets of you gut. :P

What makes you think in terms of decades or years? I would rather have said weeks or even days...

You know it's during shifts of power that an empire is the most unstable.

Hmm maybe your reason are all the things Luna and Celestia managed to do together before the falling out?

Defeating Sombra and Discord and the like in just a couple of months is perhaps unrealistic?

Hmm interesting, but what if the "evils" if Equestria are especially active during the time of a powershift?

Then that could mean Luna and Celestia put under a lot of pressure during a short time. Making perhaps, for the ideal environment for a falling out between the sisters.

 

I believe a thousand years is a short time for a nation to survive if it is ruled by an immortal god in a world were wars are fought with apple pie. :)

Also ponies seems to be better people in general than people.

In the story of Hearth's Warming Eve we are told that the unicorns raised the sun and moon. Would not the simple explanation be that two of the unicorns held the cutimarks of godhood, without necessary being the rulers of their group?. (It was a different time after all)

I like to believe that the Hearth's Warming Eve story took place many powershifts ago. And that maybe at some point the cutimarks came to a alicorn who resolved, that if possible the powers should go on to alicorns.

When Celestia could not find a second alicorn, Twilight the unicorn became the second choice.(however she would need guidance)

 

 

Like you Codex, I am having a hard time to let go of this theory of mine. Maybe cause its promising something grand for season 4.

​I really wish to see Twilights true succession of Celestia. And in that succession, the death of Celestia and Luna.

An ending worthy of any Disney movie.

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One other thing I want to add.  I'm not opposed to the theory that Celestia assigned Cadence to sit for twilight. She may have already had her eye on twilight before the exam. Remember, twilight was considered "Gifted" even before her exam and accidentally showing her raw power.  Remember B.B.B.F.F.? She was levitating a book efortlessly. How many other unicorn fillies have we seen in the show with that degree of control over their magic at that age? Off the top of my head, I can't think of any. Plus, during the Cadence flashback twilight appears to be living in the castle so its entirely possible that her parents work under Celestia or through Shining Armor's connections while training to be a guard. Plus at that point, Shining Armor already has his cutie mark at that point so he has probably proved himself to be capable of generating powerful magic sheilds (which I assume is what his cutie mark represents and would make him an ideal candidate for captian of the royal guard) and therfore earned Celestia's attention. As other people have suggested before, the dragon-egg hatching exam was unlikey intended to be passed, and celestia implemented it as a way to reveal a powerful unicorn.

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Incoming wall of text! TL;DR! Duck and cover! Geez, aren't you ever going to stop? OK, I'm done with the jokes about the size of the OP. The next time somebody accuses me of excessive verbosity, I know who to send them to. But it was worth taking the time to read every word. Too bad I can only give you one brohoof, because for that, you deserve a dozen! Anyway I brohoofed both of your posts for good measure.  ;)

 

Despite a significant amount of speculation, I agreed with a large majority of it. You write very well and, even better, you know how to support every argument you make. Most of what you wrote about were things I already knew but hadn't yet taken the time to sort out mentally. But now I would like to talk about the one big item I had a different idea on: Princess Celestia's lack of friends.

 

I thought Celestia needed a pony like Twilight more for her youth than her friend making capability. But naturally making friends was also very important for wielding the Elements of Harmony in the first place. Celestia also knew that a complete understanding of the relationship between magic and friendship was vital to completing Star Swirl's old spell. Friendship was the only thing Celestia couldn't teach Twilight in a Canterlot class room. That's why she dispatched her to Ponyville. Nonetheless, I thought Twi's young mind gave her a natural edge over Celestia at certain things. When we live for a long time, we tend to become very set in our ways. We learn how to do things a certain way. Sometimes the need to “unlearn what you have learned” to succeed in a task becomes difficult or impossible. Despite all the wisdom, knowledge, and foresight that Princess Celestia has accrued, I imagined her one weakness would be the inability to look at something with the open mind of a very young pony. Being over a thousand years old, Celestia may be VERY set in her ways! It's amazing that she doesn't act like it. Anyway, this is also one of the biggest themes in Star Wars. Yoda always liked very young students, the younger the better. He was as angry as hell when he got a10 year-old Anakin Skywalker to teach. But a 20-year old Luke Skywalker nearly made him lose it. It's much easier to train a Jedi when they start out at a very early age.

 

But after thinking about it, I'm beginning to like your idea better. I honestly never thought about Celestia's lack of true friends before. She's appears to be close enough to people that she wouldn't feel unloved. To think of Celestia as friendless is almost too sad to think about. Nonetheless, there seems to be a limitation somewhere. Another thing I love about MLP:FiM is this: Just like real life people, every pony bears a private pain. And Celestia's secret suffering, if true, has to be one of the biggest whoppers out there. Especially over the course of a lifetime exceeding 1,000 years. Hopefully it's not that bad for her. The only thing I know for sure is that Celestia is incapable of attaining a state of true agape with another pony. It's extraordinary for anybody to have such a powerful love with more than one person in an entire lifetime. The fact that these six young mares completely share this powerful bond with each other is truly a miracle and it makes MLP:FiM the best cartoon on television today!

 

In closing, Codex, I want to say wow! You sure know how to make a splash. Welcome to the forum and I'm looking forward to reading more great stuff from you in the future. :)

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While it has a bit of fanwankery (not that I mind, see my name), I think this is a fantastic analysis of the show and Magical Mystery Cure.

 

On one hand this analysis shows why Magical Mystery Cure would have been the perfect place to end the show; it's the end of the original journey, the first setup of the show. On the other hand this analysis shows where the show can go from here, which is strikingly similar to what it was, while still being its own, new thing.

 

If they don't screw this up this might be a spectacular example of changing a show without jumping the shark.

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In response to Grifcannon:

 Maybe she sensed it in Twilight in meeting when twilight was to young to remember. Or maybe she knew what year Twilight would be born and had Cadance sit for all the fillies born that year. Or Cadance was to sit for all unicorns with a strong bloodline? Maybe Celestia in all her subtlety suggested to Cadance the idea of being a foalsitter, knowing that she might encounter the heir. Or maybe there is simply a prophecy. The point is, we can get around those problems by wriggling a bit.

 

In response to Codex:

What makes you think in terms of decades or years? I would rather have said weeks or even days...

You know it's during shifts of power that an empire is the most unstable.

Hmm maybe your reason are all the things Luna and Celestia managed to do together before the falling out?

Defeating Sombra and Discord and the like in just a couple of months is perhaps unrealistic?

Hmm interesting, but what if the "evils" if Equestria are especially active during the time of a powershift?

Then that could mean Luna and Celestia put under a lot of pressure during a short time. Making perhaps, for the ideal environment for a falling out between the sisters.

 

I believe a thousand years is a short time for a nation to survive if it is ruled by an immortal god in a world were wars are fought with apple pie. :)

Also ponies seems to be better people in general than people.

In the story of Hearth's Warming Eve we are told that the unicorns raised the sun and moon. Would not the simple explanation be that two of the unicorns held the cutimarks of godhood, without necessary being the rulers of their group?. (It was a different time after all)

I like to believe that the Hearth's Warming Eve story took place many powershifts ago. And that maybe at some point the cutimarks came to a alicorn who resolved, that if possible the powers should go on to alicorns.

When Celestia could not find a second alicorn, Twilight the unicorn became the second choice.(however she would need guidance)

 

 

Like you Codex, I am having a hard time to let go of this theory of mine. Maybe cause its promising something grand for season 4.

I really wish to see Twilights true succession of Celestia. And in that succession, the death of Celestia and Luna.

An ending worthy of any Disney movie.

1. I think you give Celestia a bit too much credit. This is the same Princess who had to be told by Spike that Twilight was getting her horn in a twist over the whole letter issue (Lesson Zero). The same Princess who got blindsided by Chrysalis when she should have had enough contact with Cadence to realize Something Was Not Right.

 

I give Celestia credit for being benevolently Machiavellian. I don't think she's got enough going on to pull off Xanatos Gambits.

 

2. Decades or Years is based on a simple reasoning: Luna and Celestia are sisters. Not just sisters, but immortal alicorn sisters.

 

Based on no evidence whatsoever, I believe that they are the first alicorns (and possibly, pre-Cadence, the ONLY alicorns). I see three ways they could have come into being: naturally born, artificailly created, or they simply appeared.

 

If they were born, they would have been marked from birth as something special, and would have a very hard time making friends (lack of equals/peers). All they would have had was each other and their parents. It would take a LONG time to sunder that bond; even normal siblings with divergent personalities tend to take years to become estranged. For those who rely so heavily on each other, that bond would be even stronger, and would take a proportionately longer time to fray.

 

If created or appeared, they wouldn't even have parents, simply guardians and mentors (if they appeared as children), so their connection would have been even stronger. If they appeared as adults, it can be assumed that they would come with the necessary maturity to go with their appearance and not let childish disagreements get between them. In either case, they would have even fewer familial bonds, and as freaks of nature, would have even less chance of making friends.

 

No matter how they came about, Luna and Celestia NEEDED each other, desperately, especially in the first years of becoming rulers, just to remain sane.

 

3. I don't think Celestia counts as a goddess in any way, shape, or form. She has been beaten multiple times, outsmarted, outmaneuvered, and blindsided by things she probably could or should have seen coming. A supremely gifted, powerful, wise, immortal creature, but still, just a pony.

 

As for "inheriting" the power of a unicorn, I don't think so. What makes Celestia unique is her power to raise the sun unassisted. Just like there are teams of pegasi needed to alter the weather to any significant degree, it's equally likely it required teams of unicorns to change day and night.

 

I can't address the idea of what Celestia "planned," as I have even less evidence to go on than I normally do when I participate in WAG (Wild [ponied] Guessing). We know Ms. Faust always planned for Twilight to succeed Celestia; what we have no way of knowing is whether Celestia planned it, or whether it was intended to happen organically. I do, however, feel that Equestria has likely had only one major dynasty (ie: Celestia) for the vast majority of its history, and no real powershifts at all (considering that peace and harmony is a prerequisite for the survival of the species).

 

4. I hope you're wrong. I do want to see something special in S4, and I wouldn't be opposed to Twilight ascending to the throne. Celestia's earned some time with her sister, though; it would be unutterably sad to see her wait for a millennium to get a bare 3 years with her. Vacation, retirement, sabbatical, possibly the loss of her powers/wings. But not death. She deserves better.

 

One other thing I want to add.  I'm not opposed to the theory that Celestia assigned Cadence to sit for twilight. She may have already had her eye on twilight before the exam. Remember, twilight was considered "Gifted" even before her exam and accidentally showing her raw power.  Remember B.B.B.F.F.? She was levitating a book efortlessly. How many other unicorn fillies have we seen in the show with that degree of control over their magic at that age? Off the top of my head, I can't think of any. Plus, during the Cadence flashback twilight appears to be living in the castle so its entirely possible that her parents work under Celestia or through Shining Armor's connections while training to be a guard. Plus at that point, Shining Armor already has his cutie mark at that point so he has probably proved himself to be capable of generating powerful magic sheilds (which I assume is what his cutie mark represents and would make him an ideal candidate for captian of the royal guard) and therfore earned Celestia's attention. As other people have suggested before, the dragon-egg hatching exam was unlikey intended to be passed, and celestia implemented it as a way to reveal a powerful unicorn.

 

My only real objection would be that this shows more foresight than we've seen from Celestia to-date. It implies that she's keeping a closer eye on a random filly who hasn't even earned her cutie mark than her own student who's just moved out on her own (ref: Lesson Zero again).

 

Incoming wall of text! TL;DR! Duck and cover! Geez, aren't you ever going to stop? OK, I'm done with the jokes about the size of the OP. The next time somebody accuses me of excessive verbosity, I know who to send them to. But it was worth taking the time to read every word. Too bad I can only give you one brohoof, because for that, you deserve a dozen! Anyway I brohoofed both of your posts for good measure.  ;)

 

Despite a significant amount of speculation, I agreed with a large majority of it. You write very well and, even better, you know how to support every argument you make. Most of what you wrote about were things I already knew but hadn't yet taken the time to sort out mentally. But now I would like to talk about the one big item I had a different idea on: Princess Celestia's lack of friends.

 

I thought Celestia needed a pony like Twilight more for her youth than her friend making capability. But naturally making friends was also very important for wielding the Elements of Harmony in the first place. Celestia also knew that a complete understanding of the relationship between magic and friendship was vital to completing Star Swirl's old spell. Friendship was the only thing Celestia couldn't teach Twilight in a Canterlot class room. That's why she dispatched her to Ponyville. Nonetheless, I thought Twi's young mind gave her a natural edge over Celestia at certain things. When we live for a long time, we tend to become very set in our ways. We learn how to do things a certain way. Sometimes the need to “unlearn what you have learned” to succeed in a task becomes difficult or impossible. Despite all the wisdom, knowledge, and foresight that Princess Celestia has accrued, I imagined her one weakness would be the inability to look at something with the open mind of a very young pony. Being over a thousand years old, Celestia may be VERY set in her ways! It's amazing that she doesn't act like it. Anyway, this is also one of the biggest themes in Star Wars. Yoda always liked very young students, the younger the better. He was as angry as hell when he got a10 year-old Anakin Skywalker to teach. But a 20-year old Luke Skywalker nearly made him lose it. It's much easier to train a Jedi when they start out at a very early age.

 

But after thinking about it, I'm beginning to like your idea better. I honestly never thought about Celestia's lack of true friends before. She's appears to be close enough to people that she wouldn't feel unloved. To think of Celestia as friendless is almost too sad to think about. Nonetheless, there seems to be a limitation somewhere. Another thing I love about MLP:FiM is this: Just like real life people, every pony bears a private pain. And Celestia's secret suffering, if true, has to be one of the biggest whoppers out there. Especially over the course of a lifetime exceeding 1,000 years. Hopefully it's not that bad for her. The only thing I know for sure is that Celestia is incapable of attaining a state of true agape with another pony. It's extraordinary for anybody to have such a powerful love with more than one person in an entire lifetime. The fact that these six young mares completely share this powerful bond with each other is truly a miracle and it makes MLP:FiM the best cartoon on television today!

 

In closing, Codex, I want to say wow! You sure know how to make a splash. Welcome to the forum and I'm looking forward to reading more great stuff from you in the future. :)

 

A good point, although I think that any pony Celestia would take on would be pretty young to her. Heck, she was ancient when Mr. Waddles was in diapers! It is a good point though, and one that cannot be dismissed out of hoof. If I ever revise this monster, I might even address it. ;)

 

I wouldn't say that Celestia is incapable of attaining that kind of love with another pony; she's simply had to wait a 1000 years for her sister to get out on good behavior.

 

The fact that these six friends are so close is an unusual (and gratifying) sight; most people only have 1 or 2 such close friends. A rare few get 3 or 4. Most people's friendships are more akin to Pinkie being "best friends" with everyone in town; she knows them, their birthdays, their likes and dislikes, but don't spend a whole lot of quality time with each other. Perhaps most unique is not just that a pony has 6 such close friends, but that they are such close friends with each other. Even polar opposites as Rainbow Dash and Rarity share as close a kinship as Rarity and Fluttershy, even without shared interests.

 

And thanks for the welcome. I've never been particularly good at lurking; I'm too opinionated. At the same time, I've never been especially good with introductory posts; I'm more likely to jump into a discussion (or create a new one!) and let the introductions happen organically.

 

While it has a bit of fanwankery (not that I mind, see my name), I think this is a fantastic analysis of the show and Magical Mystery Cure.

 

On one hand this analysis shows why Magical Mystery Cure would have been the perfect place to end the show; it's the end of the original journey, the first setup of the show. On the other hand this analysis shows where the show can go from here, which is strikingly similar to what it was, while still being its own, new thing.

 

If they don't screw this up this might be a spectacular example of changing a show without jumping the shark.

 

While I agree that the concept of Twilight's Apotheosis would have been a good place to end the show, "magical Mystery Cure" would not, for many of the same reasons that forced me to write this essay. It was too rushed, relied too heavily on implied rather than explicit explanations, and left far too many threads hanging. I would have been highly disappointed without a further explanation of how Twilight and friends go on from here.

 

For one thing, there's no way Twilight can rule without her friends by her side. Everything that makes her a princess (her mastery of Friendship Magic) is lost without them. Her friendships are not just key to her ascension, but integral to her continuing ability and right to rule.

 

At the same time, her friends cannot just pick up and move to Canterlot. Rarity can, and possibly Pinkie Pie, but the others have responsibilities they cannot leave behind. Fluttershy has to take care of the animals, Rainbow Dash is a weather team captain (never stated, but can be assumed), and for Applejack, not only does the farm need her, but her cutie mark, her very defining sense of Self, is the idea of Home (Cutie Mark Chronicles). If her friends were willing to drop everything that makes them who they are to follow Twilight, then we start walking down the path of Mary Sue.

 

At the same time, if we assume Twilight simply goes back to her studies in a backwater town, what's the point of even making her a princess? To stick her nose in a book as a Princess-in-waiting for some new responsibility to pop up out of nowhere, like the Crystal Empire for Cadence? That's not very satisfying.

 

I think I mentioned it before, but the writers have handed themselves a HUGE challenge, and I don't think they would have unless they have a solution already in hand. For myself, the only thing I can really see working is making the Mane 6 a band of adventuring troubleshooters. They can retire to their secret base (Ponyville) when things are quiet, pursue their dreams, fulfill their responsibilities, and generally have a normal life. And If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... The P-Team.

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Wowwww. And I thought I could post alot and long :P.

 

You have the most amazingly detailed and long analysis of MLP I have ever witnessed, and I read every precious word of it. You did a masterful job, you didn't just state you backed it up, and you made everything tie together.

 

I agree with more or less everything you said, it was quite alot, but it was very interesting to read. And it makes it easier for me to be optimistic about Twilights Alicorn Development.

 

I guess since your only a muffin your a bit new, and I'm just gonna say welcome to the forums, I think if you stick around your going to be quite a wonderful community member :). I'd love to read more of your analysis on MLP and things. They are quite enjoyable. Its not just a big wall of text that is full of rambling(Kinda like what I do sometimes Xd) but it is for a reason and it is very interesting, and it all makes sense.

 

So yeah all I can say is. Wonderful job, you deserve all my brohoofs!(which is unfortunately only 1 :(. ) You made the whole episode make so much sense, I swear this should be like a required read or something for people who watch E13, because it just makes the whole episode make sense.

 

I'll stop rambling about how awesome a job you did and just say thank you for taking the time to post this :). I hope that I'll see some more of this type of thing from you maybe in the future, if not atleast just seeing you around for other speculation discussions.

 

See ya later, Beautiful job :).

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@Codex: I didn't mean to say Magical Mystery Cure would have been a good final episode, although I suppose that's what I said. I meant Twilight's ascension.

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Misterfan, I kinda figured that's what you meant, but I seem to have a constitutional inability to encounter an incomplete statement without a driving need to clarify, expound upon, and catalogue it to death. :)

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So, you've analyzed the plot of FIM. Ever play Chrono Trigger?

 

I ask because I did a similar analysis of CT several years ago, although I did not accept Chrono Cross as canon because, well, that game blew hard chunks.

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I wouldn't say that Celestia is incapable of attaining that kind of love with another pony; she's simply had to wait a 1000 years for her sister to get out on good behavior.

 

If nothing else, it appears Celestia knew it would be easier for ponies other than herself to form the deep connection needed on an almost spiritual level to execute Star Swirl's spell. Still, the notion that Celestia is may be inhibited from having such a joyful relationship of her own sounds sad. She takes great pleasure in seeing her people happy even if she can't fully participate in that kind of happiness herself. If that's not the definition of bittersweet, then what is?

 

Another thing I've noticed is that Celestia delegates tasks. A lot. Some fans even criticize her for not getting involved more and for having the Mane 6 do the dirty work. I don't agree with that attitude. As far as I know, an expanded history of Equestria has yet to be written. But if it was, I bet it would say that Celestia raised many great ponies during her reign. Maybe not as powerful or as important as the Mane 6, but great nonetheless. It goes back to the old proverb: "Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for life." 

 

Despite her enormous power and lifespan, someday her mighty lungs will no longer draw breath. Then it will fall on Equestria to continue without her. She is wise to prepare them for this sad but inevitable occurrence. Many even foresee Celestia passing away at the series conclusion and having Twilight take her place as the ruler of Equestria. How they'll approach this in a TV Y cartoon, I don't know. Her body will probably do something beautiful like dissolve into butterflies. And, of course, words like dying, death, or dead will never be uttered. Time will tell.

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Hi Codex,

 

An amazing analysis. Bravo. I've discussed this in other threads, but do you have a thought about Twilight's altered cutie mark if it was in fact changed?

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Sorry for the long absence; it seems this essay doesn't get a whole lot of traffic, does it? Even from its author. :P

 

@Misterfan

I have played Chrono Trigger; it's spoiled more than one RPG for me because I consider it and FF6 to be the two pinnacles of the genre. I haven't done any analyses on it, however, because there's not much to analyze, unless you just mean WAGs about where the story goes. The only thing I always wondered was if Janus ever found Schala. When I found out "what happened to her" according to Chrono Cross, then I agree. Chrono Cross was Crisis on Infinite Earths canon.

 

@Wingnut

As I said before, I really don't want Celestia to die. Depending on what the writers decide, she may be simply very long-lived, or she may be truly immortal. Considering they were unable to state that Applejack and Big Mac are orphans, ie: can't even kill off characters that aren't even in the show, I'm fairly certain Celestia won't DIEdie either.

 

@Naturespell

I heard it mentioned in other threads, so I looked myself; it didn't change. Five small stars surrounding a larger.

 

The thing is, cutie marks are highly abstract, and do more than exemplify a pony's hopes, dreams, aspirations, and gifts, but their innermost selves (but that's another essay). Some are blatantly obvious (Octavia), some are more interpretive (Cheerilee), and some are so abstract they can mean literally anything the pony wants it to.

 

That said, when Twilight was returning to Ponyville from "Netherverse," her transport was her cutie mark, but surrounded by SIX stars. My personal interpretation is that it's yet another aspect of the redesigned StarSwirl spell, signifying that the six friends are equals, bound together by their conjoined destinies and magics.

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@Naturespell

I heard it mentioned in other threads, so I looked myself; it didn't change. Five small stars surrounding a larger.

 

The thing is, cutie marks are highly abstract, and do more than exemplify a pony's hopes, dreams, aspirations, and gifts, but their innermost selves (but that's another essay). Some are blatantly obvious (Octavia), some are more interpretive (Cheerilee), and some are so abstract they can mean literally anything the pony wants it to.

 

That said, when Twilight was returning to Ponyville from "Netherverse," her transport was her cutie mark, but surrounded by SIX stars. My personal interpretation is that it's yet another aspect of the redesigned StarSwirl spell, signifying that the six friends are equals, bound together by their conjoined destinies and magics.

-I didn't go back and review it but I trust what you saw.

 

-I agree with you about the cutie marks, but the mane six's are closely linked to their element and personality, which makes sense.

 

-The sky cutie mark is interesting, if real, and not an error, as I've heard it explained. I agree that the six stars show the equalness of the elements, but my theory is that the main star now represents her leadership and even princesship. It struck me as odd that Celestia took pains to say Twilight showed her friends elements, didn't mention her own element of magic, but showed this new element of leadership. If we never see that 7 star cutie mark again it would prove I'm wrong, but it really seems like she has two elements now magic and leadership.

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Magical Mystery Cure, 17:24. You can clearly see the missing star at the 3:00 position on her left flank. I've always wondered about that gap on her cutie mark; the 5 stars are not evenly distributed, but are set between the spokes of the central star. It makes it obvious that there's a gap.

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Magical Mystery Cure, 17:24. You can clearly see the missing star at the 3:00 position on her left flank. I've always wondered about that gap on her cutie mark; the 5 stars are not evenly distributed, but are set between the spokes of the central star. It makes it obvious that there's a gap.

Well if we assume the gap is real and meaningful and the sky mark was real and meaningful a few options present themselves. 1. The new small star represents magic, Twilight still wields it, but the larger star now represents her leadership/friendship/princessship. 2. The new star is magic but is carried by a new character (Trixie?). 3 It's a whole new element and character.

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One small detail that looks like has not been covered is the fact that Cadance is not a born alicorn but like Twilight an awakened alicorn.

 

In the book Twilight Sparkle the Crystal Heart Spell what the pegasus orphan raised by earth ponies.

Edited by EquestrianScholar

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