Episode 1-2: The Crystal Empire
Synopsis: Princess Celestia gives Twilight Sparkle a test: She must figure out how to protect the Crystal Empire from the wrath of King Sombra, the cruel unicorn king who used to rule it.
-New pony race introduced
-Funny Pinkie Pie antics
-Good villain design
-Somewhat slow start
Trivia: King Sombra is the first, and so far the only, villain to die.
Episode 3: Too Many Pinkie Pies
Synopsis: When Pinkie Pie can’t have fun with all of her friends at once, she uses the Mirror Pond to make duplicates of herself. But these brainless clones wreak havoc in Ponyville, prompting Pinkie’s friends to search for the real one among the fakes.
-Pinkie Pie episode
-Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie interaction
-Excellent Pinkie Pie antics
-Obvious plot device
-Stupidity of Twilight Sparkle
Trivia: The real Pinkie Pie is a shade darker than the clones from the Mirror Pond.
Episode 4: One Bad Apple
Synopsis: Applebloom’s cousin Babs comes to visit, but the CMC are discouraged when she chooses to befriend Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon.
-Good Pinkie Pie antics
-New character introduced
-No real consequences for the antagonists
Trivia: Babs’s strong Brooklyn accent and her line in a later episode (“Forgetta about it!”) is most likely a reference to The Sopranos.
Episode 5: Magic Duel
Synopsis: Trixie returns, this time sporting an amulet that enhances her powers and has caused her to become even more corrupted. She challenges Twilight to a magic duel and, with the power of the Alicorn Amulet, triumphs.
-Return of Trixie
-Demonstration of how Twilight’s magic has advanced
-Return of Zecora
-Rule 63 Applejack
-New land revealed
-Origins of Alicorn Amulet never explained
Trivia: Trixie trapping the entire town in a dome could be a reference to The Simpsons Movie, as well as the classic novel “Under The Dome” by Stephen King.
Episode 6: Sleepless In Ponyville
Synopsis: Scootaloo is thrilled to attend a camping trip with Rainbow Dash and hopes to adopt her as a sister figure. However, she becomes the victim of her own fears after a scary story. She is more scared of revealing her fears to Rainbow Dash than the fears themselves.
-Heart-warming Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo interaction
-New relationship formed
-Unexpected Princess Luna
Trivia: Rainbow Dash’s scary story about the “Olden Pony” resembles a well-known type of horror story in which someone steals from a dead person and the person comes back as a ghost to recover what was pilfered from them.
Episode 7: Wonderbolts Academy
Synopsis: Rainbow Dash is accepted into the Wonderbolts Academy, but finds herself paired up with a reckless pegasus named Lightning Dust.
-Rainbow Dash episode
-Pinkie Pie antics
-Return of Spitfire
-Return of many background ponies
-Rather forced happy ending
-Somewhat forced moral
-Twilight neglecting to rescue everyone with her magic
Trivia: Many fans were surprised at Spitfire’s behavior, compared to her friendly behavior at the Grand Galloping Gala. The simple explanation is that she was being her usual amiable self at the Gala. At the academy she was acting the part of the strict drill sergeant for the benefit of the students.
Episode 8: Apple Family Reunion
Synopsis: Applejack is put in charge of the annual Apple Family reunion. Her determination to make this their best reunion ever ends up inadvertently ruining the fun of everyone.
-Apple family expanded
-Return of Babs
-Excellent Apple family interaction
-Many southern stereotypes
-No Braeburn lines
Trivia: Aunt and Uncle Orange, last seen in “Cutie Mark Chronicles”, are among the family members gathered in the photograph taken in front of the barn.
Episode 9: Spike At Your Service
Synopsis: After Applejack saves Spike from a pack of Timberwolves, the latter decides he owes her a life debt.
-Applejack and Spike interaction
-Return of the Timberwolves
-Enemy overcome too easily
Trivia: The Timberwolves have the same magical aura as Queen Chrysalis, but there does not seem to be a connection between the two.
Episode 10: Keep Calm and Flutter On
Synopsis: Discord is released from his stone imprisonment on Princess Celestia’s orders. She believes that the Mane Six, especially Fluttershy, will be able to reform the former villain and convince him to use his magic for good.
-Return of Discord
-Discord and Fluttershy interaction
-Excellent Discord antics
-Passive aggressive Fluttershy
-Somewhat bad moral in context
Trivia: This episode marks the beginning of Discord’s ascension into a recurring character, although this is his last appearance of the season.
Episode 11: Just for Sidekicks
Synopsis: When the Mane Six travel to the Crystal Empire to meet the head of the Equestria Games, Spike is left to tend to all of their pets in exchange for gems. He finds out quickly that the animals are more trouble than he could have anticipated, particularly mischievous Angel Bunny.
-Equestria Games arc established
-Spike and CMC interaction
-Season 2 callbacks
-Angel Bunny’s cruelty
Trivia: There are many Season 2 callbacks in this episode. Big Macintosh and Cheerilee are seen walking side by side, a reference to “Hearts and Hooves Day”. The nerdy pony that Rarity manipulated in “Putting Your Hoof Down” is glimpsed. Screw Loose, the fan-made name for the mental patient pony, from “Read It And Weep” is seen as well.
Episode 12: Games Ponies Play
Synopsis: The Mane Six are meant to impress the Equestria Games inspector, but they accidentally pick up the wrong pony at the train station. Meanwhile, Rarity fills in for the hairdresser that canceled on Princess Cadence.
-Filly Rainbow Dash
-Excellent Rarity scenes
-New character introduced
-The stupidity of the Mane Six
-Forced happy ending
-Somewhat lackluster writing
Trivia: Supposedly there was a different, more plausible ending planned for this episode, but it was lost during production.
Episode 13: Magical Mystery Cure
Synopsis: After performing a spell, Twilight Sparkle finds that all of her friends’ Cutie Marks have been switched and so have their true selves. This causes havoc in Ponyville as the Mane Six try to adjust to destinies that do not belong to them.
-Excellent voice-acting by Tara Strong
-Vinyl Scratch cameo
-Princess Celestia sings
-Problem solved too quickly
-Feels like a two-parter
-Arguably too many songs
-Obvious marketing ploy
-Princess Luna’s bad dress design
Trivia: Originally, according to Lauren Faust’s original vision, Princess Luna and Princess Celestia were going to be the only alicorns in the series. This is one of the reasons Twilight Sparkle becoming an alicorn was looked down upon by a great deal of the fandom. However, Twilight Sparkle becoming a princess, was planned from the very beginning.