MLP:FiM Episode Reviews: Character and Story Analysis by Half the Battle

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Episode 52: "A Canterlot Wedding Part 2"

Aired 4/21/2012, written by Meghan McCarthy (her ninth episode)
  • Intro: Recap of Part 1.
  • Act 1: Twilight finds herself in an underground cavern, where she finds the real Cadance and learns the other is an impostor. "This Day Aria" contrasts the enemy's plans with Cadance and Twilight's efforts to escape.
  • Act 2: Cadance and Twilight halt the wedding, and the impostor reveals herself to be queen of the changelings. She defeats Celestia in one-on-one combat, and the Mane Six rush to retrieve the Elements of Harmony but are captured.
  • Act 3: The queen gloats in the throne room, but Cadance is able to undo Shining Armor's brainwashing, and they drive out the changelings with a love spell. Twilight oversees preparations for the real wedding, which is followed by a reception and the couple's joyful departure.

Character: Twilight is a force to be reckoned with, not only for her laser-bolt powers but for her sheer determination. I count four times Cadance is ready to give up and is pulled out of it by Twilight. The sense of purpose that to her friends appeared so misguided in Part 1 drives her victory in Part 2, and yes, she's guided by intuition the whole way.

We don't see much in the way of explicit apologies here after last episode's walk-out, but Applejack delivers one. She's a good choice since the walk-out was her idea. Princess Celestia's commendation is probably what passes for an apology in royal circles. We do see reconciliation, and we can infer that there are some words exchanged off-screen between the two ceremonies.

It speaks well of the Mane Six that they have to be absolutely overcome, not just surrounded, before giving up. (We see 45 changelings flying behind them after the fight sequence, and there are about 50 at the vault.) This is not a Magical Action Girl show; these ponies are not warriors by any means and have rarely had occasion to get physical with their adversaries. It's the only beat-'em-up in the whole series as of this writing. (But I'm eager to see what happens in the upcoming Power Ponies episode.)

Chrysalis, the changeling queen unnamed on screen, is far more openly malevolent than either Nightmare Moon or Discord. If NMM loved power/sole attention and Discord loved chaos, Chrysalis loves evil and suffering. The fact that this is a kids' show is probably the only thing that keeps this invasion from having an extraordinarily high body count. Yet Chrysalis speaks with a sophisticated flair aside from the occasional outburst. Parallels with Maleficent and Cruella de Vil are almost certainly intentional. As much as I enjoy her fan-comic pairings with Fluffle Puff, I'm perfectly happy to have her be a villain and a threat on the show.

Lesson: Celestia's line about following intuition is almost a throwaway, in all likelihood an afterthought for the sake of having a moral. Viewers who were suspicious of Cadance in Part 1 were surmising based on their intuition as well. As I said in the previous episode's review, it's true that Twilight is following her instincts, but also seeking confirming evidence before acting on it. Again, her failing is in how she presented her arguments to the others. More than intuition, though, I believe it's the risk and determination of Twilight and her friends that's the true lesson of this part of the story. I still believe Twilight's suspicions in Part 1 could just as easily have been wrong as right, had the writer decided to go a different direction. But Twi acquits herself well in a crisis situation, and nothing is going to hold her back.

Logic: Since there are only six "good guys" in the battle sequence, what, you may ask, are all the clouds of violence in the background during the Fluttershy/Rainbow, Applejack/Twilight, and Pinkie scenes? Possibly the changelings are fighting one another in confusion. But my personal theory: That's Rarity. It's all Rarity, just goin' to town on the enemy. Connections: The changelings are blown out of Canterlot to...where? They're probably still out there somewhere but have yet to reappear.


Resonance: Cadance's whole situation in this episode is a tearjerker; this is a rough way to make your debut on the show. The worst moment for me is her split second of giving up when trying to move the mine cart. This is the darkest episode so far in terms of fearful imagery, as we see Celestia defeated and then cocooned, and later as ponies are driven through the streets and backed into corners.

But all the seriousness is balanced with lots of fun, action, and general awesomeness. Who knew Twilight could shoot laser bolts? (Perhaps a clue to the nature of the "laser security system" from a couple episodes ago?) Vinyl Scratch's reappearance is cause for celebration. And we get laughs in the form of bouquet gags; Pinkie using Twi as a gatling gun; the return of the party cannon, this time being used as an actual cannon; Cadance dancing with Pinkie; Princess Luna's line; and the photo montage.


Other Impressions and Final Assessment: As always, there are a lot of subtleties in the facial expressions, especially during the songs. It's neat to set the music and actions aside and just focus on the evident feelings of one character (such as Twilight) for a minute or so. You'll unearth depth that wasn't there before.

If this were normally a Magical Girl-style action series, this episode would not have nearly the impact it does. But this series is about three-quarters slice-of-life episodes with most of the adventure shows involving little violence. We're not used to this generation of MLP having action and threat at nearly this level, and this is exactly the place to put it. Fear of a stereotypical "wedding episode" would be a natural hurdle for most adult male viewers. But after all the violence, stress, and heartache, I really needed the payoff of a successful ceremony and both the dignified and energetic portions of the reception. I'm glad the writers took their time rather than rush the ending.

I would like to have rewritten Celestia's words to Twilight to better capture the lessons of both parts of the story and contain a more explicit apology. Together, Parts 1 and 2 aren't as close to flawless as The Last Roundup or Luna Eclipsed. It's also probably not a good "entry" story for someone unfamiliar with the show, since it relies too heavily on established characters and situations, not to mention its uncharacteristic tone. But by the criteria that originally drew me to the MLP:FiM series, this finale is fantastic.


A Canterlot Wedding Parts 1 and 2 armor rating: Crystal Mail
Ranked 3rd and 4th of 26 season-two episodes
Ranked 37th and 38th of 233 stories overall

Click HERE for Character Appearance List and Screentime.

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