Season 2, Episode 26: "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 2"
And it's because I've become so heavily invested in the characters over the past 50 episodes that Twilight's joy at being remembered gives me goosebumps, even now, even when I'm watching it in fits and starts for recapping purposes. Indeed, I've watched this episode several times now, and every time, I get chills at all the right moments -- and a lump in my throat at others. I don't know what the experience was like for people who were watching the show for the first time (and judging from Hasbro's press release from April 24, 2012, a whole heck of a lot of new people were watching) but for this faithful viewer, it worked.
As Twilight Sparkle and Real Cadance try to escape the caverns, Evil Cadance prepares for the wedding, both Cadances duet in the episode's showstopping number, "This Day." I don't know the exact term for this kind of song in the musical theater context, the second-act finale where the characters all sing a song together while being in different places, but for me it brings to mind "La Resistance" from South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, and "Walk Through the Fire" from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode. In good ways, obviously.
(As an aside, I can't help but wonder how flower girls Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo would feel if they got their cutie marks for that. It would have to be a bit of a letdown.)
The marriage of Evil Cadance and a hypnotized, green-glass-eyed Shining Armor is about to be completed by the unobservant Princess Celestia ...
The final third of the episode is concerned with the wedding in the title. It goes much better this time around. Notable cameos include the forever-marginalized Princess Luna ...
Season 2 Wrap Up
For example, does every episode necessarily have to be involve the Mane Six, or even include primary protagonist Twilight Sparkle? Would that be like doing an original Star Trek episode without Captain Kirk? That actually did happen once, in the Kirk-free Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Slaver Weapon," and Twilight Sparkle is also absent from "Family Appreciation Day." Similarly, she appears for less than a minute in "Hearts and Hooves Day," and none of the other Mane Six show up at all -- and that was the highest-rated episode of the series until the season finale.
How about the Mane Six acting in play for the bulk of an episode? Sure, "Hearth's Warming Eve." Or how about much of the episode taking place in a character's imagination? "Read It and Weep," you betcha. Throw in an increased use of stylized flashbacks and elaborate, story-driven songs and you've got a remarkably experimental and expressionistic season.
I'm not suggesting this is the first series to ever do such things -- examples can be found in sitcoms dating back to the 1970s -- but for a pony cartoon whose primary raison d'être is to sell merchandise,
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic never stops kicking at its envelope to see what it can get away with, nor does it ever underestimate the intelligence of its audience.
I don't have the foggiest idea what's coming in Season 3, other than Princess Cadance becoming a recurring character (poor marginalized Luna!), and as always, that's part of what makes the show so satisfying. I don't know where it's going, but getting there is always worth the trip.
Season 2 is available in its entirety on iTunes and Netflix, but if you just want to skim the highlights for now, here's my recommended lineup:
Episode 3: "Lesson Zero"
Episode 4: "Luna Eclipsed"
Episode 11: "Hearth's Warming Eve"
Episode 12: "Family Appreciation Day"
Episode 15: "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000"
Episode 16: "Read It and Weep"
Episode 19: "Putting Your Hoof Down"
Episode 20: "It's About Time"
Episode 22: "Hurricane Fluttershy"
Episode 24: "MMMystery on the Friendship Express"
Episodes 25: "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1"
Episodes 26: "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 2"
While recapping Season 2, I watched the first three seasons of Justified. It's a great show and worth checking out, particularly since we're about to be without new episodes of Breaking Bad for another year. And while you're at it, give Cougar Town a shot. The series doesn't really find its voice until halfway through the first season, but if you stick with it, you'll discover that in spite of the horribly off-putting title, it's a remarkably complex, emotionally satisfying, and always entertaining and well-written show -- just like My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.