My Little Countdown: Top 10 "Friendship Is Magic" Episodes (2)

Well, too soon after we were here last, we’re here again. “Friendship Is Magic”’s third season just ended and—for me—that means a reconfiguration of my top ten episode list, which I posted here last year.

Though season 3 was too short (only half the length as the first two in fact), for reasons I still don’t understand—but think have something to do with some shows needing a minimum of 65 episodes for syndication—I thought that, pound by pound, it’s been the best pony season thus far. With only one truly underwhelming episode (“Apple Family Reunion”, which to be fair was still pretty okay) and a bunch of legit incredible moments, this third season sure as hell delivered.

So here is my top ten list of episodes, revised to accommodate season three.

10. Sonic Rainboom (Season 1 Episode 16)

For a while, before season 2 started, I was convinced this was my favorite episode. Centered on Rainbow Dash, “Sonic Rainboom” was one of the most exciting episodes to watch, and one that sparked a lot of continuity lines for the future (we see the Wonderbolts for the first time, as well as the actual ass-kicking, chills-inducing sonic rainboom and the asshole kids from flight school). For the first time the show takes us to Cloudsdale, which has an awesome design and creative mechanics (love the factory). We also get to see a new side of Rainbow Dash that really explores her personality and crippling fears of inadequacy. I did think this was still when the writers hadn’t gotten Rarity’s character totally right, which is why she comes off as unlikable.

9. The Last Roundup (Season 2 Episode 14)

Oh man if you were a brony in January 2012, you shat brix with “The Last Roundup”. There’s just no way you didn't during a certain scene early on (“I just don’t know what went wrong!”). Not only was the scene in question the show’s greatest surprise and biggest nod from the creators to the fanbase, the controversy afterwards was shocking. Putting that aside, "The Last Roundup" was well paced, clever, and one of the most consistently funny episodes in the entire show. I love how, much like “Over a Barrel” and "Hearth's Warming Eve", we get a whole new dynamic as the show deviates from formula after a fundamentally intriguing premise involving Apple Jack’s disappearance. Add to this a shitload of references, action scenes, Pinkie being at her funniest and [sic] quotabliest, and you get one hell of an episode.

8. It’s About Time (Season 2 Episode 20)

The episode that had bronies everywhere discussing theoretical physics. M.A. Larson (apparently my favorite writer) does a great job with the story even if the concept behind the causality time loop becomes apparent almost immediately, and is therefore predictable. There are a bunch of references to Greek mythology (can we have an epic season finale/premiere in Tartarus?), more exploration of the world including the Canterlot archives, a great montage as ponies try to ‘disaster-proof’ Equestria, and what I’m completely convinced is a reference to “Metal Gear Solid”. I really enjoyed that we get to see Pinkie and Twilight interact, as their contrasting personalities are always a blast to watch. I was particularly excited by the feeling of impending doom throughout and its climax in Canterlot Castle. Sure, there are a lot of parallelisms to “Lesson Zero”, but it didn’t bother me too much, and this stood on its own remarkably well.

7. The Cutie Mark Chronicles (Season 1 Episode 23)

Though it’s not a two-part episode like the series premiere, “The Cutie Mark Chronicles” was the first epic episode of “Friendship is Magic”. I was worried at first when I thought it would focus on the Cutie Mark Crusaders, as they were still annoying little turds back then, but the instant the ‘anthology’ nature of the episode kicked in, I was glued to the screen. The back-story of every character not only added depth to them, but also to the world itself. For the first time we get to see another city, life in Cloudsdale, and the details of Twilight's Magic school, as well as how her relationship with Celestia started. The twist in the end was, though predictable, brilliant and heartwarming. By far the best episode of season 1.

6. Magical Mystery Cure (Season 3 Episode 13)

If an episode of “Friendship Is Magic” had ever been controversial, it would be the season 3 finale. Everything leading up to it—spots, news, clips—had the entire fanbase squirming in embarrassing drama and being torn between those who supported the incredibly ballsy twist it ended with, and those who assured they would leave the fandom because of it. In the end, the episode spoke for itself. Yes, it definitely should’ve been a two-parter, which is why it felt rushed and kinda wasted one of the best premises an episode has had (Cutie Mark messup), but I firmly believe that it’s not fair to blame the writers because of a choice by Hasbro and The Hub. I don’t think M.A. Larson could’ve possibly written a more solid episode considering the restrictions. Oh, and it was also a musical, breaking all academy records with seven beautiful songs that took almost half the length of the entire episode. The twist it finishes with only promises great new challenges and liberties for the writers, as the character in question had grown too comfortable with herself during season 3. I cannot wait to see where they take the plot from this point forward. Oh and everyone welcome Derpy back.

5. Sleepless In Ponyville (Season 3 Episode 6)

The biggest surprise the show has ever given me. Scootaloo could be my least favorite character in the show, so the promise of an episode that’s Scoot-centric wasn’t particularly exciting—boy was I wrong. Not only was Scoots incredibly likable, the episode was hilarious (Rarity was hysterical), had some great development to relationships established in season 2 and finally acknowledged a real relationship between Rainbow Dash and Scoots. Seeing Dash finally take Scootaloo under her wing as a surrogate big sister was heartwarming, and the ending of the two ‘flying’ together has to be the single sweetest moment the show has ever had. Oh and let’s not forget Luna showing up unexpectedly to make everyone shit themselves—what a way to develop and endear a character that spends too much time in the shadows. And all came from a new writer. Corey Powell, please stick around.

4. A Canterlot Wedding (Season 2 Episode 25 & 26)

The season 2 finale was promised to be big, and we were given hints to what it would entail from very early in the season when pictures of the “Shining Armor” and “Cadence” dolls leaked online. No one, however, expected just how big and epic it would turn out to be. With three amazing songs (including “This Day Aria”, which I consider the series’ best) and two reprises, beautiful music, two fantastic new characters I can’t wait to see again, a lot of drama, many surprises and a great ending, “A Canterlot Wedding” was a fantastic cap to the season. I really enjoyed the turn where, for once, it’s not Friendship what wins in the end—or even the Mane Six—but Love. The only reason why this isn’t number 1 is because there are a few things with the writing that bothered me, but they would be nitpicks.

3. The Return Of Harmony (Season 2 Episodes 1 & 2)

The two-parter with which season 2 premiered turned out to be a very unexpected and pleasant surprise. After Lauren Faust, creator of the show, stepped down from writing duties, most fans started worrying that the series would take a plunge—no one expected it would actually become much better. “The Return of Harmony” introduced Discord, a character who might be the series’ coolest and most fun to watch (and it would have never been thus without John DeLancie behind him). The first half ends on a killer cliffhanger, and the second turned into a constant climb in drama and humor. Also, seeing the ‘gray’ versions of the Mane Six without their respective Element was both freaking hilarious and sad to watch. Flutterbitch was by far the best. I remember being mortally hung over for Part 2 (Saturdays, man) and the chaos hit me like a bag of pointy rocks.

Oh, and exploding chocolate milk. Holy shit. 

2. Lesson Zero (Season 2 Episode 3)

“Lesson Zero” was a great way to tell the fans that, though the show might be going in a slightly (emphasize slightly) different direction, it was one everyone would enjoy. This is by far the funniest episode in the series, and one that had the biggest collection of memorable moments (“Clock is ticking!”, Flutterbear, Sonic Rainbomb and Twilight's spiral into insanity to name a few). I also very much appreciated Celestia’s appearance in the end, and the twist involving how every one of the Mane Six (and apparently Spike) would have to write letters to her. This gave a lot of freedom to the writers, and they appropriately used it throughout the season. This is the episode I always use when I want to show people what the show really is about. It hasn’t failed me once, because it stands on its own, and as part of the show's continuity.

1. The Crystal Empire (Season 3 Episodes 1 & 2)

My anticipation for the premiere of Season 3 was crazy, so it’s incredible that it didn’t disappoint me one bit. I never expected the show to outdo itself in terms of epicness after “A Canterlot Wedding”, but holy crap—the stakes had never been higher. This epic two-parter took us to a new place in Equestria, introduced a new race of ponies, saw the return of the royal couple and had a new villain whom I still think is underrated as hell. Sure, Sombra isn’t developed like Chrysallis or Discord were, but he was a great evil presence (I look at him as I would Sauron). The Zelda-like puzzle solving, new magic, gorgeous visuals and Spike’s heroism were what sold this for me. It also had three excellent songs, and the start of a seasonal arc in the shape of a mysterious book and some cryptic dialogue between Luna and Celestia—an arc that didn’t resolve itself until the finale 11 episodes later.

Runner Ups:

Magic Duel (Season 3 Episode 5),  Luna Eclipsed (Season 2 Episode 4), Ponyville Confidential (Season 2 Episode 23), Over A Barrel (Season 1 Episode 21), Wonderbolts Academy (Season 3, Episode 7), Hearth's Warming Eve (Season 2, Episode 11), Bridle Gossip (Season 1, Episode 9), Swarm of the Century (Season 1, Episode 8).

Again, if you’re interested in watching any of these or other episodes, try this great source.
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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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