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

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Episode 46: "It's About Time"

Aired 3/10/2012, written by M.A. Larson (his ninth episode)
    Storyline:
  • Intro: Spike's dream of showing Rarity an ice cream house is interrupted by Twilight's late-night pacing.
  • Act 1: Twilight is visited by herself from a week in the future, but the message is cut short. Fearing the worst, she musters the whole town to prepare for a disaster. The town is visited by Cerberus, guardian of Tartarus, who is returned to his post without incident. But Twilight receives a scar she saw on her future self, suggesting the timeline is unchanged.
  • Act 2: Twilight tries standing still, fortune telling, and observing everything but still fails to change the course of events.
  • Act 3: Twilight, Pinkie, and Spike travel to Canterlot and sneak into the castle's archives in search of a spell to stop time. Morning arrives without incident, just as Pinkie finds a spell to travel into the past. Twilight uses the spell to assure her past self not to worry but is returned to the present with the message cut short just as it was the first time.

Character: In case any viewers missed it, Twilight plans so obsessively in order to avoid worry, but ends up creating more occasions for worry by doing so. Here we see all the plans thrown out the window, and worry takes over and propels Twilight through a series of self-created misadventures. The result is a natural character-driven story that teaches its lesson well.

Kudos to the creators for not having Twilight spend half the story trying to get somepony to believe her. We're past that by now. Granted, after the first act her friends don't share her concerns, but Pinkie and Spike are happy to be along for the ride. I really like Spike here too, and it's a good match to the Spike we saw in the pilot. He's level-headed enough to give sage advice but still childish enough to eat ice cream for the entire episode. Pinkie is at her Pinkiest here and is the perfect friend for Twilight to have with her when she realizes the whole mess was her own fault. And somehow I'm not surprised that Pinkie seems to enjoy panicking. Reminds me of the third-season fandom in a way.


Lesson: Worry is one of the biggest hang-ups for some of the most well-intentioned and honorable people I know. When you want so badly for things to go well or people to be happy, but live in a world where that often doesn't happen, that insecurity can be crippling. Worry also has a profound effect on friendships: it keeps us from confiding in our friends when we should, makes us less dependable ourselves and more hesitant to help, and generally brings down the morale of any group.

I would have liked to see this episode deal more with the friendship angle here, but what we have is a necessary companion to all the episodes about being there and helping out. Note that Twilight's not concerned about what will happen to her, but what will happen to Equestria. Incapacitating worry is one of those things that has to be dealt with before we can act rightly on friendly or altruistic concerns.

But as with all things, there's a balance to be had. We can't just live with no thought for the consequences of our actions. That's the purpose of Spike's week-long ice cream binge.


Logic: This "stable time loop" presentation of time travel has some interesting metaphysical implications, one of them being that the future is already written in some sense. Otherwise we'd need something already in the past to "get the ball rolling" the first time around. The fact that history is not changed here prevents time travel from being an obvious solution to future problems the Mane Six will face. Of course, nothing here requires that history cannot be changed; the series freely blends together the concepts of destiny and choice. But we'll leave that avenue of exploration to the fanfic.

 

Resonance: Twilight shows considerable awesomeness at handling Cerberus, and her line delivery is the source of much of the comedy in the episode. The entire Canterlot stealth sequence is one of the most expertly handled comic scenes in the entire series. Pinkie's emergency stashes and Celestia's cameo are fun, too.

 

Other Impressions and Final Assessment: Tara Strong can do comedy like nopony's business, and the animators' work with facial expressions, ears, and stances sells every moment. Lots of little background gags in this one as well, like Big Mac dropping Pinkie during the montage and Rarity picking leaves out of Applejack's mane. Literally every camera shot of the stealth mission has something to laugh at. The sense of adventure puts this above Sisterhooves Social, but the lack of serious drama puts it below other episdoes of similar overall quality. But it's definitely a highly excellent episode.

 

It's About Time armor rating: Diamond Vest
Ranked 10th of 26 season-two episodes
Ranked 54th of 147 stories overall

Click HERE for Character Appearance List and Screentime.

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