It’s Not… Strictly Speaking, Legal: “For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils” review

Last season, on My Little Pony, Scootaloo got her first character-development episode… and ended up getting overshadowed by Princess Luna.

At least, in my mind she did. The revelation of Luna’s dream sharing powers, just seemed way more intriguing than Scootaloo’s fear of ghost stories.

Sadly, unlike some films that explored this exact same concept, the episode didn’t really spend much time on it. I mean sure, they didn’t need to. But then, why even include it? Why include Luna’s dream-sharing powers if you’re going to do so little with them?

This was a concept in desperate need of expansion. I’m not saying we needed to see Luna perform extraction, or have anti-gravity fight scenes in a spinning hallway. But something more than a single minute-and-a-half scene would’ve been nice.

Personally, I would’ve liked to see the whole episode take full advantage of this concept. Instead, they had a different episode take full advantage of this concept. This time starring the amazingly adorable, Sweetie Belle!

Awww, so adorable! It’s like they weaponized cuteness.

Now, as we all know, Sweetie Belle’s relationship with her sister is rocky at best. But they both try! Which awards some points. Though sometimes, their attempts at sisterly love aren’t exactly successful. Sweetie Belle has a tendency to ruin Rarity’s work, and Rarity has a tendency to employ Sweetie Belle as slave labour.

That’s not on.

But you can tell they love each other, and they’d do anything for each other. Rarity would even take time out of her already airtight schedule to help her little sister with the costumes she made:

Fooking ‘ell! I mean… that’s gonna take a lot of work. Pro-tip Sweetie Belle: for each element, try to use only one sheet of fabric… without patches.

So what are the costumes for? A play Sweetie Belle wrote, directed, and co-stars in with her friends. She put a lot of work into it, and was hesitant to ask for Rarity’s help, since she wanted to do it all on her own. And I don’t blame her. She wanted to have pride in her work, and not ride on someone else’s coattails. Which, I should mention, is a bit of character development we’ve seen before.

So, it’s the day of the play, and Rarity arrives with the costumes just seconds before they go on stage. She took so long because despite the fact that Sweetie Belle merely wanted her to check the stitches and buttons, she ended up redoing most of the work. And Sweetie Belle’s not too pleased.

Rarity completely messed with the overall designs. So now, Sweetie Belle can’t take any credit for the costumes. Then again, her original costumes were pretty shit. But redoing the entire costume like that? I know she meant well, but Rarity should’ve done nothing more than fix them. Repair the sleeves, maybe replace some of the fabrics, and make the stitching less obvious. Ideally, she would’ve just told Sweetie Belle what to do, so she could do it.

Instead, that didn’t happen. But still, the costumes are great, and the play is a hit! They even get a standing ovation! And after it’s all over, they go out to meet their fans!

Spike congratulates them on a great show, but has to disappoint them, since Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and the others were helping Rarity catch up on all the work she fell behind on.

You know, I have to ask: Does Rarity pay her friends to do this?

But it doesn’t matter, since everyone else loved it!

Did they?

Well actually, yes! They all loved the costumes! The costumes were great! Such fantastic costumes!

Unfortunately no one liked the actual play.

And you know, given the fact that they would know that Sweetie Belle wrote it, and given that Sweetie Belle’s around eight, and given that it’s her first play, couldn’t someone have lied to her!? Normally I’m not one for blowing smoke up one’s backside, but it’s her first play! At the very least I’d expect someone to say, ‘Well, I liked it. It wasn’t great, but it was interesting, and had a lot of potential.” And then, they might couple it with a bit of diplomatically phrased criticism and advice!

I know some are going to say: “Aren’t you the guy who continually criticizes other people’s work in the rudest way possible?” Yeah, I used to do that. But I had a change of heart. I was wrong. I think you should criticise people’s work in the nicest way possible. Especially when you’re talking to a kid! Primarily because people shut down if they think you’re rude.

But it’s not that ponies just didn’t like the play, it’s that they didn’t remember anything about the play besides the costumes. To them it’s just a blur with white noise, and costumes pasted onto it!

So Sweetie Belle’s pissed, and goes to yell at Rarity.

How dare you put effort into your work!

Of course, Sweetie Belle is legitimately angry, but I think she’s pointing it in the wrong direction. It’s not really Rarity’s fault. It’s the moronic audience that can’t focus on anything other than wardrobe!

But Rarity doesn’t handle this well either. All that would’ve been needed was a pot of tea, and a little time to talk things out. Rarity could apologize and then she’ll know to tone down the fabulous on those costumes. Besides, you should never go to bed angry.

Then again, letting Sweetie Belle cool off is a good idea, so I can’t really blame her.

That night, Sweetie Belle is trying, and failing, to go to sleep. So she gets up, and decides to get her revenge on Rarity by removing a single stitch from a massive headdress that is supposed to be delivered the next morning.

This may not seem like a big deal, but trust me, it is. That’s actually a load-bearing stitch.

That night, Sweetie Belle dreams of an award ceremony, where she wins Best Play!

All for it to be destroyed by an evil sister-cloud!

Wow, and I thought Inception was weird. We even see Sweetie Belle’s statuette melt in the rain.

There’s a lot of symbolism here.

So, as Sweetie Belle curses out her sister-cloud, she’s saved by a winged Mr. Charles.

She specializes in a very specific type of security.

By the way, if you haven’t seen Inception, you should, it’s a great film.

Now, if you remember, the last episode to explore Luna’s dream powers never really explained why she invaded Scootaloo’s dream. The most we get is that ‘it’s her duty.’ But that doesn’t explain why it’s needed, or why she decides to visit Scootaloo’s dream.

This time, it’s made very clear. Luna sees Sweetie Belle as a kindred spirit, since they both find themselves overshadowed by their elder sisters on a regular basis.

Yeah, Luna needs more love.

So, she begins leading Sweetie Belle through a flashback of her fifth birthday party, which Sweetie Belle narrates without any prompting. And it does feel a bit awkward, as she describes what Past-Belle’s doing, as they both watch her do it.

All she wanted was to be pretty for all her friends. But by the time she got downstairs, all her friends were too busy being impressed with Rarity’s party favours to notice.

And hearing her friends state that they like Rarity more than they like her, breaks her heart. So she runs back to her room to cry her eyes out. Just another case where Rarity overshadows her… right?

Well, Luna disagrees. And to make her case, she shows Sweetie Belle what Rarity saw that same night.

As all her friends are waiting for her to finish gussying herself up, their impatience reaches its peak, and they decide to leave (with a bit more eloquence than I’d expect from a five-year-old). Rarity’s attempts to bribe them with party favours and cake weren’t part of an effort to overshadow Sweetie Belle, but an effort to stop them from leaving. And she even explained that everything was Sweetie Belle’s idea, she just helped out.

In case you didn’t notice at this point; yes, this is Luna’s attempt at inception. But much like the Fisher inception in the movie, one must wonder if any of it is actually true. Did they really want to leave? Did Rarity really stop them with party favours? Well, it seems possible, even likely; but it’s also possible that Luna created the dream with a scenario that seemed plausible, but was completely made up! Besides, how exactly would Luna know what really happened? Unless Rarity told her somehow, for some reason.

The dream shifts once again, and we are in Rarity’s room, watching her panic over the next day, worried everything won’t turn out perfectly. Talking about how high-strung her client is. And Sweetie Belle empathizes, since she felt the same way in the lead-up to the play. So she wishes her sister well.

Then Luna reminds her of that stitch she removed, and gives her a glimpse of the future.

Rarity’s reputation is ruined, she spirals into insanity, and becomes a laughing-stock.

But Luna, is this the future that ‘will be,’ or ‘might be’?

I’m guessing ‘might be.’ Since I highly doubt any major celebrity would devote any time and energy to telling the world about how their former costume designer messed up on a single headdress. No one is that petty.


So, I guess it’s safe to assume that Luna made it all up. Which is fine! She was trying to convince Sweetie Belle that what she did was wrong, and the truth isn’t really important in this case. Besides, it worked! Because after all that, Sweetie Belle wakes up, and quickly decides to undo what she did.

Sadly, her sister already left… for Canterlot.

So she gets her friends, and they board a train going through the desert. The desert? Really? Okay, either Canterlot moved… again, or they took a massive detour… again. I think all of Equestria rearranges itself on a regular basis.

Anyway, they arrive in Canterlot, and having failed to argue their way past security, decide to get in through the second story window. Which you’d think would be locked, since one-third of the population can fly.

They break in, and Sweetie Belle manages to abscond with the headdress just as Rarity is about to show it off.

Thus begins a merry chase, which eventually ends with Sweetie Belle losing Rarity, and hiding in a room, with the headdress.

And in this room, Luna was apparently waiting, somehow, with thread. She helps Sweetie Belle fix the headdress, and tells her to add a dolphin, because the client secretly loves dolphins. And Luna knew this because of dreams.

Okay, that’s not on, Luna. There should be a concept of dream invader/dream invadee confidentiality.

So, after fixing the headdress, Sweetie Belle returns it, and confesses to everything. I don’t know why she didn’t do that sooner, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was because Rarity would probably insist that she makes the repairs, and Sweetie Belle wanted to do it as a matter of pride.

And so, that’s the end of the show. Now time for my final verdict: Fantastic.

This episode wasn’t just good because of the dream-sharing. It was good because it made a lot of sense.

We see Luna’s dream-sharing being used in a way that requires dreams. Last time, she just talked to Scootaloo, which was something that could’ve easily been done while they were awake. In fact, they didn’t even need Luna to fill that role. Applejack could’ve easily been the one to tell Scootaloo how to face her fears. So Luna’s appearance was completely superfluous, and unnecessary. This time however, she actually had a purpose, since I doubt the message would’ve gotten through if they just talked.

And again, we also have a reason for Luna to go through all this trouble, since she sees a bit of herself in the young filly. Especially since they both let their anger and jealousy go a bit too far. However, Sweetie Belle just removed a stitch from a headdress. Luna tried to end all life in Equestria. Bit of a false equivalency there, Princess.

But if this is how Luna performs inception, she’s not really good at it. And I’m not just saying that because she didn’t try to stay hidden.

The thing is, Rarity’s perspective during Sweetie Belle’s birthday, and the flashforward to Rarity’s future of failure, just makes me wonder how Luna could know these things. And the only reason Sweetie Belle didn’t think to ask was because she was a filly. I’d expect an older pony to know better. I would also assume that it only worked since Sweetie Belle was already receptive to the idea. Part of her knew that Rarity wasn’t trying to overshadow her, she just couldn’t think of a scenario to explain it. But once Luna presented a scenario, she immediately accepted it.

But if Luna wants to try something similar in the future, she’s going to have to learn subtlety.

I’d also like to point out that, much like Sweetie Belle, I also don’t give two shits about the flash-in-the-pan pop star of the week. But I am surprised that Apple Bloom would. She seems too smart for that. I mean, Scootaloo, sure, but not Apple Bloom.

So I really liked this episode. Because it made sense, everything fit together, and nothing’s really unexplained. In fact, I’ll say this is one of the best episodes of the season! Along with: invasion of the mutant kudzu, fun in a haunted castle, The Avengers: Age of Pony, and Rarity falls in love with a tool.

And I say this in support of the episode overall, despite the few weird moments that popped up: Like Sweetie Belle’s redundant narration, the fact that Canterlot moved, and the frankly bizarre dream transitions that popped up.

You see, the water represents the fact that she’s on acid.


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