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Credits & Solicit Info:
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - S2E25 and S2E26: A Canterlot Wedding
Directors: James Wootton, Jayson Thiessen
Writer: Meghan McCarthy
Producer: Sarah Wall
Music: Daniel Ingram
Feautred Voice Talent:
Twilight Sparkle: Tara Strong
Rarity: Tabitha St. Germain
Applejack and Rainbow Dash: Ashleigh Ball
Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy: Andrea Libman
Spike: Cathy Wesluck
Princess Celestia: Nicole Oliver
Apple Bloom: Michelle Creber
Scootaloo: Madeleine Peters
Sweetie Belle: Claire Corlett
Pinkie Pie: Shannon Chan-Kent
Twilight Sparkle: Rebecca Shoichet
Rarity: Kazumi Evans
Guest Voice Talent:
Shining Armor: Andrew Francis
Princess Cadance: Tori Spelling
Queen Chrysalis: Kathleen Barr
Even though the year is barely 4 months old, I can safely say that 2012 has been a turbulent year for the Brony/Pegisister community. Besides the natural growing pains of an expanding fandom, the controversy known as "Derpygate" bought out heated reactions that served to divide people among many different angles. Beyond the initial reaction, the biggest concern that many members of the fandom had was the possibility of the show moving away from the aspects that made it such a cross demographical hit in the first place. It is due to those concerns that the first leaks of the material connected to this event (which were toy reveals) created a sense of apprehension that the quality of the season finale would bring that worst case scenario to light. Could Studio B possibly deliver a 2-Part saga that would prove the skeptics wrong? Personally, I think the episodes delivered on levels that I didn't think were possible.
What worked in this Episode?
For the readers that are curious about why this show has become such a phenomenon, the foundation of this rests greatly on the shoulders of the well-structured plotting that not only allows for engaging stories, but for obvious toy advertisement episodes to become some of the best stuff on the show, something that these two episodes displayed in grand fashion. What could've been little more than a 60 minute toy advertisement became one of the best things on Television in a very long timme, as the wedding itself was a staging ground for an adventure that is a White Knuckle, edge on your seat thrill ride with the substance that would make the Pixar Studio hand out props for the entire package.
Speaking of substance, another one of the biggest draws of "Friendship is Magic" is the strong 3-dimensional characterization that the Mane 6 (Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie) has been blessed with since the beginning of the show, and this season finale was no exception in the slightest. As the story is being told through Twilight Sparkle's eyes, we get a very multi-faceted portrayal that highlights every virtue and flaw (which inadvertently helps to make things worse) that has made the character so great. By centering the story around her, the superb writing gives the audience the capacity to care about the character's getting married (despite the continuity questions that come into play by introducing them), while showing us how important Twilight Sparkle is to the story at large. Of course, any praise for the characterization of Twilight Sparkle must rest on the feet of her voice actress, Tara Strong who raises her already incredible game to a new level. Having played a huge factor in increasing the depth of Twilight's character, Strong ties it all together with an emotional gravitas that'll be talked about for years to come.
Along with the plot and characterization, there we're many other elements that helped to make the Royal Wedding an amazing spectacle and the first of these was the musical score. Despite this season lacking the amount of amazing songs that helped to define the previous season, these two episodes went to town in this aspect, introducing 3 new songs that range from good (Big Brother Best Friend Forever has such an addictive charm) to godlike (This Day Aria which pits Cadance and Chrysalis (the Chameleon Queen who impersonated Cadance) in a song duel for the ages). Each of these songs is a worthy addition to the ever growing soundtrack of this show, and will provide many worthy hours of listening for fans. Daniel Ingram, Rebecca Shoichet and the rest of the singers have a lot of be proud of with this performance.
The second aspect that I couldn't get enough of was the fight scene in the 2nd part of the tale. When Lauren Faust originally pitched the show, there was supposed to be more of an emphasis on the Adventure aspect of the show, that got left on the cutting room floor due to the restraints of an accelerated production schedule and the intended target market. Taking that into consideration, Studio B using such an intensive fight scene as a storytelling tool was an extremely appreciated touch. Beyond that, I was also impressed with the action, psychology and the way it bridged the reveal of Chrysalis' true form to the climax of the story, making it an extremely impressive first effort that Studio B should be extremely proud of.
Last, but not least, I was extremely impressed with the way previous episodes were interlocked into this proceedings of the story being told here. During the part of the story where Twilight tried to warn the rest of the Mane 6 about the Cadance that turned out to be Chameleon Queen (Chrysalis), we saw them actively try to address the concerns that their friend had, which was something that they learned from the "Lesson Zero" episode. Combining that element with the numerous Easter Eggs scattered throughout the saga (which included a Rarity/Fancy Pants Picture and a Derpy Hooves sighting), longtime fans were well rewarded for paying attention to everything that led up to the season finale, which is always a win in my book.
What didn't work as well as what did?
With a season finale as amazing as this one, finding actual fault with the work would understandably seem more like an exercise in nitpicking, instead of proper analysis. That being said, every gripe that I had with "The Royal Wedding" saga is connected to the understandable time restraints that come with every 22 minute per episode long show. With only 44 minutes to tell the story, extra time could've been given to give both the rest of the Mane 6 a bigger role (especially when you consider that the previous season finale ("The Best Night Ever") gave everyone time to shine) in the story and to flesh out the ending itself. That being said, the pacing of what we had still gets high marks making the flaws even more forgivable. Still, there will always be a part of me that'll occasionally lament on how much more awesome it would've been if we had gotten another 5 – 10 minutes to let things play out.
The Final 22 Cents:
As I sit here and finish this review, I can't help but think about the impact this episode not only had on me, but the fandom at large. I can also say that I would be a liar if I didn't admit that both Derpygate and the original material released for this episode made me steel myself for a disaster that could become remembered this generations' "Jump the Shark." Little did I know, I would be treated to such an amazing and fantastic adventure that had me cheering as I was watching the closing credits. It was almost as if everyone involved in the show took the frustration of the older fandom to heart and used it as fuel to create something that reminded us why we all loved the show in the first place, and by doing so it did more to heal the rifts suffered with Derpy's altering than anyone's words could have. Bottom Line, "A Canterlot Wedding" will not only go down as one of the best Season Finales In television history, but as a reminder of what a little love and effort can do for something that shouldn't be as good as it is. Bravo to everyone who had anything to do with this, you deserve to be showered with the rewards of producing such an amazing show.
Final Judgment: ***** (Transcendent)
Review by: Linwood Earl Knight