Episode 1-2: The Return of Harmony
Synopsis: Twilight and her friends are confused by the bizarre events happening all over Ponyville, such as cotton candy clouds and the rabbits growing long, giraffe-like legs. Princess Celestia traces these events back to Discord, an old foe who has returned to wreak havoc on Equestria after escaping his stone imprisonment.
-Introduction of an excellent returning villain
-Superb voice acting by John De Lancie
-Comedic interactions between the Mane Six
-Resolution too fast
Trivia: Discord’s personality was modeled after Agent Q from “Star Trek”, the character played by John De Lancie. As a result, the staff convinced John De Lancie himself to do the voice of Discord for the show.
Episode 3: Lesson Zero
Synopsis: Twilight Sparkle’s paranoia gets the best of her when she realizes that she has not yet sent a friendship letter to Princess Celestia for this week. Horrified, she is determined to solve a friend’s problem by the end of the day. But with the lack of problems in Ponyville, she slowly descends into insanity over the thought of being tardy.
-Excellent voice acting by Tara Strong
-Great Spike and Twilight interaction
-Twilight’s friends out of character during one scene
-Lesson somewhat forced
-Unfortunate implications of spell used
Trivia: Originally, this episode was going to be the season premiere. But due to “The Return of Harmony” being pushed back to the season two opener when it was meant to be the season one finale, “Lesson Zero” ended up being the third episode of the second season.
Episode 4: Luna Eclipsed
Synopsis: Nightmare Night, a Halloween-esque holiday dedicated to Nightmare Moon, is greeted enthusiastically by the citizens of Ponyville. When Princess Luna herself shows up, she has trouble fitting in with the ponies that are convinced she is still Nightmare Moon.
-Beautiful character design for Princess Luna
-Return of Zecora
-Spooky, but not too spooky, atmosphere
-Season 1 callbacks
-Questionable morality of celebration
-Stupidity of Twilight Sparkle’s friends
-Bits of the story disregarded for lesson to work
-No explanation for Luna’s new design given
-Frustrating Pinkie Pie antics
Trivia: Princess Luna is voiced by the same person who voices Rarity.
Episode 5: Sisterhooves Social
Synopsis: Rarity’s younger sister Sweetie Belle is forced upon her while their parents take a vacation. Sweetie Belle proves to be enthusiastic, but disastrous in her methods of helping her busy older sibling. Furious, they denounce each other as sisters after a disagreement over the Sisterhooves Social. It is only after Sweetie Belle “adopts” Applejack as her older sister that Rarity realizes her mistake.
-Sweetie Belle episode without the CMC
-Rarity’s behavior in the beginning
-Obviously random “sister pairs” at the social
-Missed chance for a song
Trivia: During the race, “Applejack’s” eye color is clearly different from her usual one, hinting that it is actually Rarity.
Episode 6: The Cutie Pox
Synopsis: Apple Bloom is yet again depressed over her lack of a cutie mark. She descends into the forest and runs into Zecora after an accident. Realizing that Zecora has potions for anything, Apple Bloom brews up a concoction to give her a cutie mark. Instead, it gives her a rare disease called “cutie pox” that causes several cutie marks to appear all over her body and forces her to perform every talent that comes with the cutie marks.
-Apple Bloom episode
-Idiocy of Ponyville citizens
-Cutie Pox never fully explained
-Full consequences not received
Trivia: The cutie mark that appears on Apple Bloom when she starts speaking French is a “fleur-de-lis”. The fleur-de-lis is a common French symbol.
Episode 7: May The Best Pet Win!
Synopsis: Rainbow Dash realizes that she is the only pony in her circle of friends without a pet. She holds a competition to choose one, but her friends worry that she doesn’t truly understand what a pet needs and what she should look for in an animal companion.
-Good episode for Rainbow Dash fans
-Comedic antics from the turtle
-”Ride of the Valkyries” used as background music
-Mane Six perfectly in-character
-Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash interaction
-Random unneeded dream sequence
-Rainbow Dash’s behavior during the competition
Trivia: Tank’s flying contraption is powered by the same magical aura seen around the tickets in the season one episode “The Ticketmaster”.
Episode 8: The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well
Synopsis: Rainbow Dash’s ego inflates dangerously as the town begins to praise her as a hero after several valiant rescues. Her superiority complex is challenged by the appearance of a new hero called “The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well”. She struggles to remain on top, but this masked hero seems to have powers that she herself does not.
-Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo interaction
-Plethora of superhero references
-A few good jokes involving Rainbow Dash
-Good design for the Mysterious Mare-Do-Well
-Character development ignored
-The Mane Six out-of-character
-Lesson falls flat due to events surrounding it
-The questionable behavior of the Mane Six
Trivia: Rainbow Dash’s catchphrase (“Never fear! Your friendly neighborhood Rainbow Dash is here!”) is a reference to “Spiderman”.
Episode 9: Sweet and Elite
Synopsis: While staying in Canterlot, Rarity has to choose between impressing the rich, influential elite or completing a favor she promised to a friend. She chooses the former, leading her into a tangled web of lies.
-Good Rarity episode
-Well-performed and well-written song
-Improved clothing designs
-Rarity’s behavior in the beginning and middle
-Missed opportunity for interaction between Rarity and Prince Blueblood
Trivia: Counting the “Becoming Popular” montage, this episode features the most outfit changes in a single episode.
Episode 10: Secret of my Excess
Synopsis: Spike’s birthday rolls around, prompting all of his friends and other acquaintances to give him presents. The excessive amount of presents causes his greedy dragon nature to kick in. He begins hoarding everything he can get his claws on, growing rapidly all the while. Zecora explains that Spike is maturing at a faster rate than he should due to his hoarding. If he does not curb his instincts, he will become a huge ferocious monster.
-Very sweet Spike and Rarity interaction
-Information about dragons
-Good designs for each stage of Spike’s maturity
-Birthday episode, but date or age never mentioned
Trivia: Surprise is among the Wonderbolts who show up to fight a rampaging full-grown Spike.
Episode 11: Hearth’s Warming Eve
Synopsis: To celebrate Hearth’s Warming Eve, a Christmas-like holiday, the Mane Six participate in a play about the founding of Equestria.
-History of their world expanded
-Mane Six in-character during the play
-Incorrect definition of “wendigos”
Trivia: Private Pansy refers to Commander Hurricane as “sir”, leading many to believe that Commander Hurricane is a male. However, “sir” is often used to refer to a high-ranking officer regardless of gender. Private Pansy confirms by her use of the word “her” in reference to Commander Hurricane that she is indeed a female.
Episode 12: Family Appreciation Day
Synopsis: The Zap apples, a special magical type of apple, appear on the farm. Due to the harvest, Applejack and Big Macintosh can not attend Applebloom’s school for Family Appreciation Day. Applebloom is forced to bring in Granny Smith, but worries that her eccentric grandmother might embarrass her.
-Granny Smith episode
-Origin of Ponyville revealed
-Very good “method to their madness” resolution
-Diamond Tiara punished for her actions
-Excellent designs for the Timberwolves
-Diamond Tiara’s cruelty
Trivia: The coloring and the effects used in the flashback are made to resemble an old-fashioned movie.
Episode 13: Baby Cakes
Synopsis: Mr. and Mrs. Cake welcome a pair of twins into their family. Pinkie Pie is excited at having two new foals to play with. But when she volunteers to babysit the newborns, she is oblivious to how different responsibility is from playtime.
-Pinkie Pie antics
-Realistic lesson and storyline
-Unfortunate implications of Mr. Cake’s explanation
Trivia: Rarity does not give an excuse for why she cannot babysit the twins. In “Stare Masters” and “Sisterhooves Social”, it is implied that Rarity dislikes caring for young children.
Episode 14: The Last Roundup
Synopsis: Applejack departs Ponyville to compete in a rodeo in order to earn money to fix up town hall. Her friends and family are startled to receive a message telling them that she will not be returning to Ponyville. Worried and confused, her friends go looking for Applejack. Their search leads them to a town called Dodge Junction where Applejack has been employed on a cherry farm.
-Hilarious Pinkie Pie antics
-Good Applejack episode
-Rarity and Pinkie Pie interaction
-Wild West references
-”I Love Lucy” reference
-Funny chase scene
-A little predictable
-A bit dull
-The determination of the Mane Six to meddle
-Fluttershy slightly out-of-character
Trivia: To date, this episode spawned the most controversy of any episode of the series. The trouble began when the writers became aware of one of the fan-named background characters. Due to her crossed eyes and “wonky” expression, a blonde-maned mare normally seen in the background was given the name “Derpy Hooves” by fans. The writers decided to include the name and give Derpy a speaking role in this episode. Unfortunately, soon after the episode’s initial airing, iTunes demanded that the episode be censored by changing Derpy’s name and correcting her eyes for fear of offending anyone. The episode was edited and a “censored” version, in which Derpy’s eyes are fixed, her voice is less deep, and her name is not used was aired. But these changes sparked an even bigger controversy from the fandom itself. Hasbro was flooded with complaints from fans who thought Derpy’s censorship was unfair and was sending a bad message to the little children that watched the show. Many fans saw the censorship as Hasbro trying to appease a few concerned mothers who didn’t want their children exposed to something as harmless as a possibly disabled pony who, in reality, was never even confirmed to be disabled in the first place. Hasbro made amends by releasing a limited edition Derpy Hooves figurine, complete with her crossed eyes. However, Derpy was once again confined to the background and it was not until Season 4 that she received a significant role in an episode.
Episode 15: The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000
Synopsis: Apple cider season rolls around, but the Apple family cannot keep up with the huge demand. Two businessponies known as “Flim” and “Flam” arrive in Ponyville with a contraption that can make enough cider for all the citizens. They end up challenging the Apple family to a competition to see which of them can make the most cider in an hour.
-Hilarious Rainbow Dash antics
-Apple family interaction
-Good minor villains
-Applejack’s bad business sense
-No actual letter to Celestia
Trivia: The Flim Flam Brothers’ Song parodies “The Music Man”.
Episode 16: Read it and Weep
Synopsis: Rainbow Dash ends up in the hospital after a failed trick. Twilight Sparkle gives her a book to read, but she shuns the idea. Struck by boredom, she finally decides to give reading a try. To her amazement, Rainbow Dash discovers that she actually likes reading. Unfortunately, wary of being mocked due to her own former mockery of reading, she cannot tell her friends.
-Realistic hospital scenario
-Indiana Jones references
-Slow first act
-A few cliché scenes
Trivia: Daring Do, the title character in the book Rainbow Dash enjoys, is a recolored version of Rainbow Dash herself.
Episode 17: Hearts and Hooves Day
Synopsis: The Cutie Mark Crusaders are saddened when they discover that Cheerilee does not have a “special somepony” for Hearts and Hooves Day. They take it upon themselves to find her a coltfriend and eventually settle on Big Macintosh. But when simply putting them in romantic situations doesn’t spark a relationship, the CMC resort to using a love potion.
-Valentine’s Day episode
-More sceentime/lines for Big Macintosh and Cheerilee
-Extremely good lesson
-Funny interactions between Big Macintosh and Cheerilee
-Some annoying interactions
-Twilight Sparkle out-of-character
-Convenient plot device employed
-Rather forced-sounding lines from Twilight
Trivia: Applebloom distracts Big Macintosh by helping him pick out a wedding ring for Cheerilee, even though ponies do not normally wear wedding rings. Mr. and Mrs. Cake, the only married couple in the show, have never been seen with rings.
Episode 18: A Friend in Deed
Synopsis: Pinkie Pie desires to become friends with a cranky donkey, but he resists all of her attempts.
-Pinkie Pie in-character
-Hilarious interactions between two contrasting character types
-Extremely good song
-New character introduced
-Missed opportunity for a better lesson
-Moral could easily be taken the wrong way in context
Trivia: A version of the song “Yankee Doodle Dandee”, which is referenced many times in the episode, is played over the ending credits.
Episode 19: Putting Your Hoof Down
Synopsis: Tired of being a doormat, Fluttershy takes assertiveness lessons from a minotaur named Iron Will. The training backfires and turns her into an insufferable bully.
-Great Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy interaction
-Hilarious one-shot character
-Angel Bunny’s behavior
-Somewhat forced happy ending
Trivia: Iron Will’s general attitude and many of his poses parody Hulk Hogan and Mr. T.
Episode 20: It’s About Time
Synopsis: Twilight Sparkle is visited by herself from the future. Future!Twilight informs Twilight that a disaster is coming on Tuesday, but is unable to give anything specific. Twilight’s desperation to prevent the disaster escalates to the point of near-madness.
-Time travel episode
-Great Pinkie Pie humor
-Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle interaction
-Minimal Spike abuse
-Unexplained Princess Celestia cameo
-Naive Twilight Sparkle
-Completely pointless “disaster-proofing”
Trivia: The title of this episode has two meanings. “It’s About Time” refers to the fact that this episode is mainly about time travel. It also refers to the fact that there was such a long gap between this episode and the previous one, so it was “about time” it was aired.
Episode 21: Dragon Quest
Synopsis: To find out who he is, Spike tries to connect with other dragons.
-Information about dragons
-New dragon designs
-Annoying teenage dragons
-Overprotective Mane Six
-Missed opportunity for a fight
-Rainbow Dash out-of-character
Trivia: The phoenixes in this episode have slightly different designs compared to Philomena from “A Bird in the Hoof”.
Episode 22: Hurricane Fluttershy
Synopsis: Past instances of bullying leave Fluttershy unable to help the pegasi create a tornado to lift water up to Cloudsdale.
-Good Fluttershy episode
-Realistic portrayal of bullying
-Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy interaction
-Bon-Bon (and others) temporarily pegasi
-Unrealistically weak Fluttershy
Trivia: One of the animals helping Fluttershy overcome her fear of performing wears a Derpy Hooves mask.
Episode 23: Ponyville Confidential
Synopsis: The CMC try to join the school newspaper, but Diamond Tiara rejects their first attempts at compelling articles. It is only when the three ponies turn to exposing ponies and their secrets that they receive spots on the paper. Unfortunately, their stories about the private lives of ponies soon escalate to hurtful rumors and fabricated “scoops”.
-The Cutie Mark Crusaders in-character
-Mane Six not shoe-horned in
-Comedic Mane Six interaction
-Rarity and Sweetie Belle interaction
-Big Macintosh speaks
-Overreaction of townsponies
-Few consequences for Diamond Tiara
Trivia: Gabby Gums writes an article claiming that the mayor dyes her mane. Later in the episode, Mayor Mare is glimpsed clearly in the middle of doing just that.
Episode 24: MMMystery on the Friendship Express
Synopsis: Pinkie Pie and her friends are tasked with transporting a cake to a baking contest. In the middle of the night, a mysterious pony ruins the cake by taking several bites out of it. Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle investigate to uncover the culprit.
-Hilarious Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie interaction
-Somewhat surprising conclusion
-Return of Donut/Pony Joe
-Predictable in many parts
-Brief Pinkie Pie cruelty
Trivia: The episode title and the solution to the mystery is a parody of “Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie. The episode also contains references to Sherlock Holmes, “Kill Bill”, and the James Bond movies.
Episode 25-26: A Canterlot Wedding
Synopsis: Twilight Sparkle’s older brother Shining Armor is getting married, but Twilight does not trust his bride-to-be. When she attempts to prove that this mare is not as innocent as she seems, she ends up earning the scorn of everypony.
-An actual battle
-Breathtaking and well-performed song
-Old Disney vibes
-Good villain design
-Princess Celestia being useful
-Excellent changeling designs
-Two new characters abruptly introduced
-The stupidity of the villain
-Obvious plot holes
-Arguably non-evil villain
-Villain and minions not really defeated
Trivia: During “This Day Aria”, a note known as a “deceptive cadence” is used when the fake Cadence is singing. Daniel Ingram, the series composer, has confirmed that this was deliberate and it has been pointed out by many fans who are knowledgeable about music.