The cast and crew must have known that there would be a halftime break, so why not go all crazy with the 13th episode? Princess Luna has a dream about turning into Nightmare Moon again and the Mane Six go Rainbow Power to bring her back. However, that’s not the dream is supposed to go according to Luna. There’s a blue smoke monster called Tantabus that converts dreams into nightmares, and it has now infected the dreams of the Mane Six.
Luna brings them together to sleep at Twilight’s castle in an effort to chase down the Tantabus before it gets too powerful and invades the real world, but is unsuccessful. The Mane Six offer to help and Luna eventually agrees, especially because Pinkie Pie has other ponies in her dream about a giant ice cream sundae, it’s going to get bigger and more powerful.
So, Luna conducts a group dream with all of Ponyville and this is where the Holy S**t Quotient explodes. I could list the number of amazing things that are seen in the third act, but I can save time by imploring you to see all of it again or for the first time if you have not done so already. Basically, everypony gets a part to play in this one and it’s another continuity cavalcade with a dash of fan service which is done in a way that only this show can get away with.
We eventually get the reveal that Luna created the Tantabus herself as a means of self-punishment for harming so many ponies as Nightmare Moon. Now, the Tantabus is feeding off her guilt and growing stronger every time Luna feels bad about turning into Nightmare Moon. But Twilight finally convinces Luna to forgive herself, especially since everypony else has already forgiven her and Luna is a much different pony now. That ultimately destroys the Tantabus, saves Equestria, and the episode and the first half ends with Luna in a peaceful slumber for probably the first time in ages.
There is a lot to absorb here in the incredibly fast-paced episode. The cold open and the first two acts seemed to fly by and the third act was high energy by itself. First, people are going to point out that Nightmare Moon hardly did anything either in the Season Four premier or in the pilot episodes. They also need to remember that Celestia deep down was remorseful because she had to banish her sister to the Moon and it caused her great pain. Luna admitted in “For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils” that she failed to control her worst instincts and that episode was her telling Sweetie Belle, “don’t be like me.”
There’s also this and it’s I feel it’s extremely important. Self-punishment is actually a way that some people deal with traumatic experiences. Of course, it’s extremely unhealthy and strongly discouraged in real life, but absent more positive alternatives, some people just find it easier to inflict immediate pain on themselves to help forget about the traumatic memories of before. But really, you shouldn’t harm yourself physically in any manner.
It’s a bit heartbreaking that Luna has the power to keep ponies safe in their dreams, but until now hasn’t been able to save herself from her own nightmare. I was going to compare Luna to McGucket from Gravity Falls where he had a laser to erase traumatic memories from his mind, but the side effect was that he would end up a crazy, old guy. Here, it’s a bit more relatable because what Luna is doing is ultimately harming others and she realizes she need to stop it.
Again, words will not be able to do justice to the third and final act. You have to see it yourself. The animation was simply top notch and it was an outstanding way to go into the midseason break. With half the season gone, there’s half the season to go!
PLUSES AND MINUSES:
- + Luna with a relatable problem regarding traumatic experiences
- + Animation
- + Humor with Mane Six dreams
- + Every pony involved
- + Stunning Third Act
So yes, I’ve given 10/10 for three of the last five episodes. With “Slice of Life,” it was almost by default since that was essentially a love letter to the fans of the show. And for what it was, it was done remarkably well. But with “Amending Fences” and “Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?”, both dealt with problems that are very relatable to real life and would likely hit home to some fans of the show. The way the show handled the conflicts that Twilight and Luna were going through, respectively, were quite amazing and deserving of such a high score.