Analyzing “The Best Night Ever”

Text version + youtube description:

More stuff by me:

My OC is designed/drawn by MizuTakishima:

(Mis)Fortune’s post:

Watch the At the Gala karaoke here:
Genderbent version here:

And the Rainfall’s Gala Mix (ending song):

Bronycurious’ video on the SDCC preview:

The Best Night Ever is the first season finale in MLP, as well as the end of the first recognizable plot thread running through the series, making it kind of a big deal. The first time I watched it, I’d forgotten about The Ticket Master, and I didn’t really get what was going on. Once I’d checked myself and rewatched the important episodes, I realized how big a payoff The Best Night Ever really was for those episodes.

The relationship between The Ticket Master and The Best Night Ever is kind of brilliant, because it retroactively shows us just how wrong all the ponies were in thinking that they had good reasons for going. Applejack, did you even think about your marketability in Canterlot? Rainbow, did you think it was gonna be all about you? Pinkie, did you know there’s more than one kind of party? etc.

I’ve been a fan of Misfortune’s theory that the ponies who really had the best reasons to go to the gala were Pinkie and Fluttershy, since they seemed to have the goals that could most reasonably be expected to happen; but this episode proves that the whole idea that any pony had the best reason to go is a complete farce.

This episode is relatable on two levels. If you’ve ever had really high expectations going into something, only for them to be utterly shot down, you’ll know what this is like. I developed the motto “high hopes, low expectations” out of situations like this one. It’s also relatable in the way of painting the mane six as outsiders, and betraying their expectation that other places are just like Ponyville.

This theme was brought to the forefront in Sweet and Elite, wherein Rarity’s friends are painted strictly as country folk, but it’s perhaps even more effective in this episode, wherein nopony really sees it coming. Canterlot is stuck-up and haughty, but more importantly, it’s different. It’s so different that even the animals are *too good* for common folk.

One of the complaints I’ve seen raised about this episode, is that it doesn’t make sense for Fluttershy to fail at communicating with animals, since this is supposed to be her special talent. But that’s the point! Pinkie Pie’s special talent is that she makes ponies happy, but she can’t do that here. Applejack’s talent is making and selling apple products, but nopony wants what she’s selling up in Canterlot. These ponies don’t belong here.

One of the more entertaining parts of this episode for me is watching Rainbow Dash follow the Wonderbolts around. It’s interesting to note that the Wonderbolts aren’t really different from the mane six in terms of attitude; but they’re famous athletes. They have the presence of sports stars that everyone else in this party has probably staked money on here and there.

A team like the Wonderbolts comes to a place like this to pick up sponsorships and make deals, not to hang out. It’s awesome that they recognize Rainbow Dash from the Sonic Rainboom episode, but this really wasn’t the time and place to try and talk. I’ve often thought that if Rainbow actually found a chance to meet with the Wonderbolts while they weren’t busy, they’d probably give her more time of day.

Coming at this episode more from a meta-contextual perspective, it seems to be a parody of the fairy tale idea of one night that can change the main character’s life forever. It shows deliberation in this regard by making slights at the classic Cinderalla fairy tale at every turn.
It’s evident that this isn’t gonna be like the fairy tales right from the start with Twilight’s friends reacting to her mouse-horse abominations. Later in the episode, we also get an epic throwback to Cinderella’s glass slipper when Rarity smashes hers to pieces to ensure a certain asshole prince will never find her.

Looking at it from the perspective of Lauren Faust’s ambition with My Little Pony–to BUCK the trend of lame girls cartoons being full of empty romance and characters who expect to be swept off their feet and carried away instead of earning victory by their own hooves–the episode delivers a very bold message. Fairy tales are bullshit, and the real world can be harsh, but you make the most of it and enjoy what you get by having good friends.

The theme of subversion and pulling back the curtain on fairy tale tradition runs heavily throughout the episode. At the start, Rarity locks Spike out of the dressing room, because guys shouldn’t watch girls getting dressed… only for Applejack to remind her that they don’t usually wear clothes to begin with.

As a result of being in the dressing room, we get a behind the scenes look at how the feminine mask comes on, so to speak. Instead of the girls disappearing for a while to return all prettied up, we see Rarity puting on fake eyelashes, Applejack spit-shining Fluttershy’s hooves, and Pinkie’s hair refusing to cooperate. Twilight reassures Spike that everyone will get to spend time together and he’ll be able to have fun, only for the entire group to leave him in the dust the moment the song is over. Even Spike whipping the ponies pulling the cart, only to get a curt reaction, serves as a subversion.

Of course, we know how the rest goes. It’s not enough that none of the ponies succeed–they all have the rugs utterly pulled from under them. Twilight gets to stand next to Celestia, Rainbow gets to talk to the Wonderbolts, Fluttershy sees the cool animals, Rarity actually courts the Prince, and Applejack even makes at least one good sale! The only pony who doesn’t even begin to succeed is Pinkie, which is even more hilarious considering my earlier statement that she had the most reasonable ambition of all.

Around the twelve minute mark, there’s this great moment in which the ponies all realize that they aren’t in a fairy tale. Nothing is gonna happen on its own, so they decied to MAKE IT happen. If this was an anime series, all that HARD WORK AND GUTS might’ve led to a happy ending, but MLP doesn’t even bother.

This isn’t an episode about living your dreams, it’s about realizing that your dreams are shitty and unrealistic, will put you on the path to insanity and alcoholism, and sometimes it’s better to just enjoy life as it is. Or, at least, it’s a lesson about having down to earth expectations and not thinking that reality can live up to what’s in your head. Either way it’s brutal, and I love it!

(Celestia mouth joke)

3 thoughts on “Analyzing “The Best Night Ever”


    Good to have you back. After my post all that time ago, I wondered how the three big eps for this arc are related (of course there’d be Sonic Rainboom, too). I think you’ve linked them: if Ticket Master and Suited for Success have similar story frames, trying to please with gifts and all, Best Night ever is tied to them both because it gives us the brutal truth, the times when miracles *don’t* happen or save the day, where dreams and fantasies *don’t* join seamlessly with reality, where they slam into harsh reality. These characters fight to stay on the bucking horse and GET THROWN OFF. It’s kind of a ballsy finale concept. I’m telling you, I love it when MLP gets too real.

    I also love the fact that I have significantly less to say here. It’s nuts. You hit the ground running; this approaches ninja levels of text-reading.

    • I had a moment where I was like… “this is the most legit analysis I’ve done in a really long time” while making this lol. And yeah, if I can find more places where MLP has that “too real” feeling I’ll be very happy.

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