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Twilight Sparkle: I can't believe that Princess Celestia chose us to put on the most important play of the season! Do you guys know what an honor this is? For all of us?
Written by Merriwether Williams
The episode begins with the main characters taking the Friendship Express Train to Canterlot, where they are performing in this year's Hearth's Warming Eve pageant. Despite some backstage bickering over an open window, the mane six quickly start the show...
Once Upon a Time, the Pegasi, Unicorns, and Earth Ponies hated each other. The Pegasi, led by Commander Hurricane (played by Rainbow Dash), believed themselves superior because they could control the weather. The Unicorns, ruled by Princess Platinum (played by Rarity), believed themselves superior because they had magic, which they used to move the sun and moon. Both tribes demanded food from the Earth Ponies, led by Chancellor Puddinghead (played by Pinkie Pie).
One year, an inexplicable blizzard came to their land, and the ground was frozen so hard that the Earth Ponies could not cultivate. Neither the Pegasi nor the Unicorns could banish the storm, so the three clans held a summit, trying to figure out a solution. But with the storm raging outside reflecting the ponies' conflict inside, it didn't take long for the leaders to angrily give up and return home. The second-in-commands of each group -- Pegasus Private Pansy (Fluttershy), Unicorn vizier Clover the Clever (Twilight Sparkle), and Earth Pony secretary Smart Cookie (Applejack) -- were disappointed at the news.
Individually, each leader decided to leave their desolate wasteland and find a new realm to live. The parties soon found a beautiful paradise with a diverse landscape, beautifully thick clouds, and fertile soil. Unfortunately, they had all chosen the same land, and soon the fighting between the three leaders resumed with increased fervor. As their bickering increased, the blizzard they had left behind started up once again, forcing the six ponies to seek shelter in a cave.
Even the plight of their situation didn't deter the hostilities; as the blizzard grew worse, the leaders' petty bickering continued, until the ice encroached so far into the cave that the commander, the princess, and the chancellor were frozen over in mid-rant. Unfettered by their bosses, the seconds admitted that they had hoped for peace and friendship. Clover the Clever realized that the blizzard was created by Windigoes, supernatural creatures that thrive on hate and fighting, and that the coldness of their hearts had brought the disaster on themselves. Just as the ice was about to completely imprison the seconds, the spark of their friendship suddenly ignited, saving them and driving back the Windigoes.
Seizing the opportunity, the three nurtured the warmth of their friendship with stories and laughter and singing, eventually thawing out their leaders. With everypony realizing that friendship and cooperation succeeded where arguing and fighting had not, the three tribes agreed to come together in harmony, thus forming Equestria on the principle that all ponies are equal. Cue a closing song, the curtain call, and enthusiastic applause from the audience.
Afterwards, the backstage happiness of the mane six is soured when the still-open window leads them to start bickering over who's at fault. The wind suddenly howls, reminiscent of the Windigoes. Rainbow Dash quickly closes the window as everyone share a laugh, as the Hearth's Warming magic floats over Canterlot.
Note: This is the thirteenth episode of the second season, but was the eleventh aired and is listed as Season 2 Episode 11 by iTunes. As such, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic/Recap/S2 E13 Hearths Warming Eve also links here.
Tropes (YMMV tropes can be found here):
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Part of Spike's narration at the pageant.
- Fluttershy plays the Pegasus Private Pansy.
- Twilight Sparkle plays Clover the Clever.
- Rarity plays Princess Platinum.
- Adorkable: Princess Platinum, flustered over the failed negotiations, plops her crown on upside-down.
- Are We There Yet?: Parodied when Princess Platinum as she and Clover search for a new land. Clover pushes a branch to reveal the castle, pointing out she'd only been walking five minutes.
- Awesome McCoolname: Commander Hurricane.
- An Ice Pony: The Windigoes use ice powers to freeze their victims.
- Backstory: For the country of Equestria.
- Bad Boss: All three rulers abuse, belittle, and ignore the advice of their assistants.
- Beleaguered Assistant: One for each ruler.
- Big Ball of Violence: The pony tribes fighting over the food.
- Blood Knight: Commander Hurricane seems a bit too eager to conquer their new homeland.
- The Caligula: Chancellor Puddinghead is/was a more benign version of this trope.
- Call Back:
- While riding the Friendship Express Train to Canterlot, Fluttershy says she's so excited she feels like shouting and gave a small, barely audible "woo hoo!", similar to "Sonic Rainboom" and "Green Isn't Your Color" when her attempts were equally as meek.
- The stained glass windows depicting the Mane cast defeating Nightmare Moon and Discord, seen in both parts of "The Return of Harmony", are shown in the hall where the pageant is being held.
- Clover the Clever was the student of Star Swirl the Bearded, who was first mentioned in "Luna Eclipsed."
- The Cameo:
- Jet Set and Upper Crust make an appearance, looking as stuck-up as ever.
- And of course, Derpy Hooves, who this time gets scolded for appearing out from nowhere. She appears twice more: once in the top window of the Friendship Express Train's Ice Cream Train Car (like in the second season theme song), and then at the very end after the pageant.
- Casting Gag: In-universe. The roles that the mane cast play seem to be perfectly identical to their real life personalities (if less pleasant, in the case of the leaders):
- Twilight plays a studious and somewhat quiet scholar.
- Fluttershy is quiet and timid.
- Applejack is level-headed and down-to-earth.
- Pinkie Pie plays a completely off-the-wall Cloudcuckoolander.
- Rainbow Dash plays a loud and brash warrior.
- Rarity plays a snobbish princess.
- Spike who is an important part of the main cast but often an outsider and observer of most of the action is the narrator.
- Character Exaggeration: The three leaders are essentially the same as their actresses, but with the negative aspects of their strongest personality traits exaggerated. As a result the three assistants take their actresses' beleaguered qualities up a notch as well, acting even more frustrated and snarky than normal.
- Chekhov's Gun: The Wendigo being beaten by using the bond between ponies to power a spell without the Elements. A similar technique is used by Shining Armor and Princess Cadence to defeat Queen Chrysalis in the finale, only with a different bond used as the power source.
- Christmas Episode: Or Equestria's analogous holiday, anyway. The decor is very Christmas, though the holiday itself is more like a combination of Thanksgiving and a national founding day.
- Compressed Hair: Pinkie Pie somehow manages to keep her tail neatly stuffed inside her costume.
- Creation Myth: A variant; while the story enacted in the play does not detail the creation of the world, real-life scholarship would recognise in it all the elements of a creation myth, much like it does in the ancient Roman myth about the founding of the city of Rome, to which the same observations apply. The play starts with an initial state of chaos and details how what is currently understood as the cosmos was created to replace it, at the same time giving mythological justification to current values and why they must be preserved to maintain the order of things. It's even (re-)enacted ritually, which is an important complement to mythological thinking in Real Life.
Spike (narrating): "It was a strange and dark time, a time when ponies were torn apart... by hatred."
Spike (aside): "I know, can you believe it?"
- Crowd Song: Everypony joins in singing a holiday carol at the end of the play.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Smart Cookie to Chancellor Puddinghead.
Puddinghead: I mean, how would we survive if I just suddenly shut up?
Smart Cookie: Heaven forbid that should happen, your Chancellorship.
- Clover the Clever also has shades of this.
- Deep Immersion Stage Play: To the viewer, the characters appear to be in a large open landscape or high in the air. But occasionally, it is shown they are still on a relatively small stage, with more conventional stage fixtures.
- Dramatic Spotlight: On Spike.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Commander Hurricane behaves this way towards Private Pansy, and is the only pony Pansy actually admits to hating - or rather, really really really really really really really really really disliking.
- Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: The Earth Ponies had a bad case of them (combined with sickly bags under their eyes), as did the Unicorns, but at a lesser grade. Life wasn't easy, oh no.
- Emotion Eater: The Windigoes are able to become stronger the more negative emotion there is around them.
- Empathic Environment: Although this is due to the Windigoes' presence.
- Every Thing Is Better With Princesses: One of the six real characters present in the play is Princess Platinum, daughter of the king, who represents the unicorns as if she as good as is their ruler. There's no explanation for why she's doing it instead of the king himself, who never shows up.
- Evil Is Deathly Cold: The Windigoes are icy beings that feed on hatred and create winter to make all suffer.
- Everypony Laughs Ending: A very short segment of laughter occurs after Rainbow Dash finally agrees to shut the window.
- Extreme Omnivore: A minor example during the montage of how each tribe is suffering under the Windigo blizzard. One pegasus soldier eats the crest on his helmet, though judging from his reaction it didn't taste too good.
- Facehoof: Done by Clover the Clever when the three leaders are fighting over a mere rock.
- Failed a Spot Check:
- A three-way one as the three rulers all get through their speeches declaring the future Equestria to be their new home, before each realizes the other two are nearby. Could be due to the events happening in a simplified way in a play.
- They also don't realize that the blizzard is catching up to them as they argue. Chancellor Puddinghead doesn't notice the land is being covered in snow until after she's already made a small pile of snowballs and thrown some at the other leaders.
- Inside the cave, the leaders don't notice are being gradually frozen when they argue.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: The Windigoes are burned to death. Sure, it's not that graphic, but it's still a bit unsettling.
- Fanfare: Princess Platinum and Commander Hurricane have theirs blown on trumpets as they enter; Chancellor Puddinghead's has hers blown on kazoos.
- Fantastic Racism: Prior to the events dramatized in the pageant, the three races had no appreciation for one another.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Pegasi, as usual, have a Greek bent to their architecture and garb. Their leader is also a commander, suggesting a militaristic culture reminiscent of ancient Sparta. Unicorns and earth ponies both borrow from medieval European cultures, although subtle class discrepancies can be seen between them (Earth ponies look like stereotypical Dung Ages peasants, while the unicorns can be described as a more romanticized High Middle Ages sort). The unicorn society may also be based off Athens and Ithaca for the earth ponies.
- Finish Dialogue in Unison
Chancellor, Commander, and Princess: We must find a new land!
- And later...
Chancellor, Commander, and Princess: We found our new home!
- Fisher King: If hatred spreads throughout the land, the Windigoes turn a communal version of this into an Enforced Trope.
- Flat Joy: Fluttershy, as usual. "Woo hoo."
- Flowery Elizabethan English: Spike narrates the pageant with this.
- Foil: Each of the leaders' assistants acts as a foil to the leader themselves:
- Private Pansy backs down from conflict whenever possible compared to the aggressive Commander Hurricane.
- Smart Cookie is down-to-earth and reasonable compared to Chancellor Puddinghead's off-the-wall loopieness.
- Clover the Clever is calm and collected compared to the often-hysterical Princess Platinum.
- Forced Perspective: As Platinum and Clover are seeking new lands, Platinum gasps and points out a raging river that they have to cross, with the camera providing a close-up of these dangerous waters. The next shot pulls back enough to show that this "river" is merely a small, narrow creek.
- Foregone Conclusion: A longer but less detailed version of the story of Equestria's founding had already been told in the iOS app Twilight Sparkle: Teacher for a Day.
- Those monster horses you saw near the beginning? They're Windigoes, creatures who feed on hatred.
- Also foreshadowed by the fact the Pegasi still control the weather and yet a blizzard occurs without warning.
- The open window blowing in the chilly air while the ponies were arguing among themselves alludes to the entire history described in the pageant.
- Remember that power of love used to defeat the Windigoes toward the end of the episode? Turns out that was the big lead up to the season finale they were talking about.
- Framing Device: The play serves as one to the story itself, with the mane six playing the founding ponies of Equestria.
- Funny Background Event:
- Scootaloo ends up with her tongue stuck to a cold candy cane prop.
- Derpy Hooves peeks out from the curtains just before the show starts, and then from backstage is berated for doing that.
- GASP: Everypony's reaction to the fact that the ponies once all hated each other.
- Get On With It Already: Shoeshine ("Linky"), one of the ponies in the audience, shouts this when Spike keeps rambling.
- Glad I Thought of It: Chancellor Puddinghead's response to her secretary suggesting "Earth" instead of "Dirtville".
- Go Out with a Smile: When the three assistants realize there's no escaping their fate, they decide to become friends before their end so they can at least die as friends instead of meaningless enemies. This was a very wise move.
- Go, Ye Heroes, Go and Die: When Rarity tries to encourage Fluttershy out of her stage fright. It almost works.
Rarity: "Fluttershy, darling, there's nothing to be all nervous about."
Rarity: Of course not! All across Equestria, ponies are preparing their own pageants for Hearth's Warming Eve in their own towns. It's tradition.
Fluttershy: So you're saying they'll be too busy to come to our play?
Rarity: Well, no. We're in the Canterlot pageant, the biggest, most important production in all of Equestria. A lot of ponies will be coming to watch us!
Fluttershy: A lot?
Rarity: Maybe even thousands!
Fluttershy: (runs and hides in a box of decorations and props)
- Harmless Freezing: Even though all six ponies are imprisoned in ice by the Windigoes, none of them are damaged after they break free.
- Heel Realization: The three assistants realize their own hatred and Fantastic Racism for each other is wrong, once they see just what it's caused in the form of the Windigoes.
- Hellish Horse: The Windigoes, malevolent winter spirits that appear as spectral horses.
- Hoof Popping: Pinkie's back right pops when she hugs Rainbow Dash on stage.
- I Can See My Future House From Here: Uttered by Fluttershy when she and Rainbow Dash claim "Pegasopolis".
- Insane Troll Logic: Chancellor Puddinghead is fond of dispensing this to justify her plans, though she prefers to call it "thinking outside the box".
- The Jimmy Hart Version:
- When the leaders of the three tribes and their assistants are making up, there are small snippets that are very reminiscent of "Greensleeves" playing.
- And another one of the jingles (used primarily for Princess Platinum) is extremely reminiscent of the opening tune of nothing less than Exodus.
- Kill It with Fire: Friendship-powered fire to be exact.
- The Lancer: The second-in-commands are more reasonable Foils and trusted companions to their superiors.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: One of Derpy's cameos involves her waving at the 'audience'.
- Literal Minded: Chancellor Puddinghead as played by Pinkie Pie, such as her "thinking inside the chimney" bit. Difficult to tell if that's just Pinkie or part of the role itself.
- Losing Horns: Play after "thinking inside the chimney" line.
- Made of Good: The heart-shaped beacon of the Fire of Friendship, which still burns to the present.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity all play unkind, xenophobic historical figures:
- Rainbow Dash, a loyal friend and reliable source of help, plays Commander Hurricane, a violent, foul-tempered military dictator.
- Pinkie Pie, an eccentric but competent and kind pony who only wishes to spread happiness, plays Chancellor Puddinghead, a delusional, egotistical duly elected tyrant.
- Rarity, a generous, understanding businessmare who always wants her friends to be the best they can be, plays Princess Platinum, a narcissistic, condescending, petty heir to a dynasty.
- Meaningful Name: Most of the names of the characters in the play. Rarity's character is Princess Platinum, which is a very rare metal. A true Rarity, as it were. Rainbow Dash as Commander Hurricane (powerful and dangerous), Chancellor Puddinghead (a dessert like pie, as well as implying a lack of smarts), Fluttershy as Pansy (which is a word used for a weak or shy person), while Twilight as Clover the Clever and Applejack as Smart Cookie (doubling as Theme Naming with Puddinghead) are self-explanatory.
- My God, What Have I Done?: The three assistants have this reaction when they realize the tribes' hatred and Fantastic Racism is what brought the Windigoes' winter on both their original homeland and the new one they sought to replace it.
- Mythology Gag:
- Rarity plays the role of an annoying princess who intends to claim some new lands and found the kingdom of "Unicornia". G3 Rarity was the annoying princess of the kingdom of Unicornia.
- Spike speaks with a British accent, much like his G3 counterpart.
- "Clover" was the name of one of the main ponies in My Little Pony Tales. There was also a male G2 pony named "Clever Clover".
- National Anthem: Looking at the lyrics and its placement within the play, it sounds likely that "A Circle of Friends" is in fact the Equestrian national anthem.
- Nice Hat:
- On the ride to the pageant, Rarity's basically wearing a full-blown Christmas tree on her head. She isn't certain if it's festive enough.
- Almost everypony involved gets one as part of her costume: crown (Rarity), Roman-style military helmet (Rainbow Dash), another one also heavily inspired by both ancient Macedonian and Renaissance-style helmets (Fluttershy), Tyrolean hat (Applejack), pudding bowl (Pinkie Pie). Twilight Sparkle, who has to make do with a ragged hood, is the only one left out.
- No Sense of Direction: The Chancellor thinks she's supposed to wear the map in order to know where to go. She also thinks she can wear the map upside-down since the Earth is round. After she passes off the map, she manages to fall off a cliff, something she narrowly avoided while still wearing it.
- Oh Crap: The assistants have this reaction to the Windigoes. Clover the Clever gets a double dose when she realizes what they are.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Spike uses an accent while narrating the play, but drops it when offering commentary on the story.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Princess Platinum's regal outfit includes one. Although it looks like a Pimped-Out Cape, she refers to it as her gown.
- Pluralses: Pinkie as Chancellor Puddinghead is confused about the plural for "Pegasus": "Pegasusususes".
- Pony Popsicle: All the leaders become victim of this, and the followers to the leaders almost become this as well.
- Proud Warrior Race Guys: The Pegasi seem to be like this, Commander Hurricane especially.
- Punny Name: "Hearth's Warming Eve" is the story of the conflicting pony factions joining together in friendship; when the Windigoes' ice melts, the three leaders have warmed hearts. In addition, the fact that the ponies lit a fire that first night, was a literal hearth warming -- or the closest thing to one that could be managed in the middle of a cave in a blizzard.
- Purple Is Powerful: Rarity's princess dress.
- Red Pony Blue Pony: See Casting Gag and Foil entries above: By Rule of Funny, each leader is a red oni to their underlings' blue, but in terms of the Mane cast participating these roles, this highlights the normal characters' red-blue pairings: Pinkie to Applejack, Rarity to Twilight, and Rainbow to Fluttershy.
- Royal Brat: Princess Platinum, until her Character Development.
- Rule of Symbolism: Due to the Windigoes, the blizzard turns the land as cold as one's heart.
- The Fire of Friendship manifests as a magical flame in the shape of a heart, which continues to shine atop of the castle.
- Spike also mentions that as the leaders thaw, their hearts are also warmed, making them more friendly to each other.
- Running Gag: Fluttershy gets stage fright and Rarity makes it worse by pointing out how thousands of people will be watching, much like in "Sonic Rainboom" and "Green Isn't Your Color."
- Scene Transition: The episode regularly transitions between the prop-heavy setting of the play and the actual settings they represent.
- Servile Snarker: Clover the Clever and Smart Cookie both display this towards their respective leaders.
- Snowball Fight: The three leaders briefly get into one until they realize that there's a snowstorm coming.
- Space Whale Aesop: Love thy neighbor, or else a trio of malevolent ice spirits will cover the world in an apocalyptic ice age.
- Split-Screen Reaction: Used both times in association with Finish Dialogue in Unison above to show the three leaders coming to the same conclusion. Played With on its second use when the three, announcing the new land as their own, discover they are all claiming the same piece of land less than ten feet from one another.
- Straight Mares: The three second-in-commands to their leaders.
- Stealth Pun / Visual Pun: Chancellor Puddinghead wears a hat that looks like pudding. A literal pudding head.
- Sugar Apocalypse: Hatred, fights and disharmony brought an ice age that destroyed the old world and forced the three Pony races to work together and accept each other to survive. The final scenes of the episode strongly hinted that this could happen again if ponies start fighting again.
- Surprise Creepy: Considering this was an episode centering around a normal play, it's kind of a shock when the Windigoes show up. Made creepier by the fact the first few times we see them there's no explanation at all and we don't get one until the climax.
- The Power of Friendship: The moral of the play, as always. And once more, the go-to method of taking out Eldritch Abominations.
- There Was a Door: When the leaders return home to report the results of the failed summit, Chancellor Puddinghead chooses to enter through the chimney rather than the front door. Apparently she never even noticed that the door was snowed in anyway.
- This Is My Side: The ponies fight for territory within the cave. Princess Platinum even asserts that an invisible line already exists to mark off their territory. Then they even fight over a small rock that sits on one of the lines.
- Tongue on the Flagpole: Scootaloo and another filly (Fan Nickname, Ruby Pinch) get their tongues stuck to a giant candy cane.
- What Could Go Wrong?: Chancellor Puddinghead says this of her brilliant plan to find a new land.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: Everypony reacts in shock to the fact that the ponies once all hated each other.
- Wendigo: Averted in a way that might bear mention; the creatures that freeze over everything by the Fantastic Racism and hatred found by the three pony races are called Windigoes (a spelling variant), but they actually have nothing to do with the original cannibalistic spirit.
- In a way, the cannibalistic trait is still present, as the Windigoes are horse like spirits who "feed" of the negative emotions of ponies.
- The Windigoes have more in common with Ithaqua, also known as the Wind-Walker and the Wendigo, who is associated with snow and ice.
- You Mean "Xmas": Hearth's Warming Eve instead of Christmas Eve, obviously, but the background instead celebrates the founding of Equestria rather than the birth of a savior like our Christmas. The "peace on earth" and "goodwill" parts are definitely part of the story and lesson.
- Just in Time: When Twilight, Fluttershy and Applejack get their whole body frozen, Twilight finally casts her spell that frees them and destroys the Windigoes.