With the first two seasons squarely under their belt, the show was renewed for another season. This was a season that was full of firsts, as this was the first season of the show to have no input from series creator Lauren Faust, who had stepped down as producer after Season One and was a Consulting Producer for Season Two. It also was the only season to have thirteen episodes. However, despite this, the writers tried their best to handle the transition smoothly, and in the end, presented a game changer that was divisive within the fandom. Despite all of this, the show’s third season did present some much needed character development for some characters, and had some trouble in terms of balancing out all of the Mane Six, and the background ponies who are definitely the life force of the fandom.
Season Three’s thirteen episode count probably made fans nervous when it came out, due to the fact that a shorter episode count in a season usually isn’t a good sign, but in this case, I think that this might have been done as it was more of a transition season, due to the fact that Faust was no longer involved in any capacity.
Thankfully, there were some gems and some great moments in the series, and Daniel Ingram’s songs became consistently great all throughout the season. This was also the first season in which I loved each and every song, with my favorite being “True, True, Friend” because of the fact that you can listen and sing along with it over and over again.
I also believe that the animation got better as well, especially with the use of light and shadow.
Due to the shorter episode count, we only had one Cutie Mark Crusaders episode, “One Bad Seed”; and one that finally focused on Scootaloo (Madeleine Peters). This season also put more emphasis on Rainbow Dash (Ashleigh Ball), Applejack (Ball), and Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong). Rarity (Tabitha St. Germain), while Pinkie Pie (Andrea Libman), and Fluttershy (Libman) only had one episode each.
Also, when watching this season, I highly suggest that you watch “Games Ponies Play” before watching “Just For Sidekicks”, as they chronologically happen simultaneously. However, I am not sure why “Just For Sidekicks” came first, and why “Games Ponies Play” came a few episodes afterwards.
This season had the loose arc of Twilight becoming a little bit more of a leader, while allowing her to grow more wiser and smarter, even without her books.
Season Three was bookended by “The Crystal Empire Pts. I & II”, and “Magical Mystery Cure”, which did put a lot of emphasis on Twilight rather than the Mane Six. Also, “The Crystal Empire” somehow foreshadows “Magical Mystery Cure”. Just pay attention to Princess Celestia’s (Nicole Oliver) and Princess Luna’s (St. Germain) in these episodes.
Season Three was definitely a period of transition, and you could see that the writers were struggling to find a good balance with the Mane Six and the background ponies that the fandom loves. However, in the end, they were able to have a direction to what they wanted to achieve by the end of the season, and had some great character moments, and consistently great songs, paired with some great episodes and moments throughout the season.
Now, you know the drill, beyond this point, there will be spoilers!
Due to the shortened episode number, the Cutie Mark Crusaders only got one episode that focused on them, with them being supporting characters for the Spike centric episode “Just For Sidekicks”.
In “One Bad Seed”, Apple Bloom’s (Michelle Creber) cousin, Babs Seed comes from Manehattan, needing a change of scenery as she was being bullied for being a blank flank back home. However, she starts bullying the CMC and the girls discover that pay back and revenge is never the solution, as they became bullies themselves. In the end, Babs becomes a Crusader, and Apple Bloom’s best cousin, something that is reinforced as well in “Apple Family Reunion”. I like that the CMC are finally learning and growing from each lesson they learn now, and it is an episode that I can relate to personally, as I was also bullied in the past.
“Sleepless in Ponyville” finally focuses on Scootaloo, and her budding relationship with Rainbow Dash. Scootaloo has always idolized Rainbow, but it is in this episode that Rainbow Dash starts bonding with her and becoming Scootaloo’s surrogate big sister. This was also the first time in which Rainbow opened up and showed another side to her, as she does tell Scootaloo things some things that she wouldn’t tell the others.
This was also the first time in which we see Princess Luna taking care of the young and doing her duties by ensuring that the citizens of Equestria are safe, even in the dream realm.
This season also saw the return of Trixie in “Magic Duel”. Although this was more of a Twilight episode, this was the beginning of Trixie reforming herself.
While Rarity didn’t really get any episode that focused on her, I did love Rarity’s antics in “Sleepless in Ponyville”. Interestingly enough, at the end of “Magical Mystery Cure”, we see here another name for Rarity’s element- charity.
Fluttershy’s one and only episode here is “Keep Calm and Flutter On”. Here, Fluttershy is given the task of reforming Discord (John de Lancie), and she does so in a way that is very her, yet it also still has continuity from what she learned in the previous seasons. She wasn’t a push over, was amazingly patient, and actually outwitted Discord at his own game, which is pretty surprising as you wouldn’t expect it from a pony like Fluttershy. This episode also was the beginning of Fluttershy’s friendship with Discord and vice versa. At the end of “Magical Mystery Cure”, we see that Fluttershy’s element also comes in a different name- compassion.
Like Rarity and Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie was sidelined a little bit in this season, and her one liners weren’t as clever or as witty as what she was given to work with in the first two seasons. However, “Too Many Pinkie Pies” is definitely a great episode for her. Here, in order to not miss out on any of the fun, Pinkie Pie decides to clone herself thanks to an enchanted pond. This would have been okay, except that her clones decide to clone themselves as well, and soon, a hurricane of Pinkie Pies storms the entire town. Pinkie, who was actually showing growth by being considerate enough to Rainbow Dash by not diving into a lake loudly and wanting to push her around in an inflatable boat so that Rainbow could still be relaxing while having fun, quickly realizes her mistake, and her determination to do anything and to stay with her friends shines here. Here, we see the true Pinkie Pie- someone who cares about her friends a lot, to the point that she would be willing to sacrifice “fun” for them. Also, it shows that Pinkie isn’t as dumb as many would think she is. In “Magical Mystery Cure”, I love the fact that Pinkie’s gifts actually affect others the most, as her being gone causes the entire town to become sad and angry at each other, and Pinkie’s reappearance immediately lifts everypony’s spirits up. Also, at the end of this episode, we see another aspect to her element- optimism.
Throughout Season One and Two, we have seen how proud and stubborn Applejack can get. However, in “Apple Family Reunion”, we see how tunnel visioned and inflexible she can be, even though her intentions are good. Here, we see that she was so caught up in planning the best reunion for her family that she forgot that it isn’t the activities that count, but the people you spend it with, a lesson which is quite timely for me, given that I’m watching this episode on the cusp of the holiday season starting. And I’ve experience this and have had to learn this lesson several times myself. In “Spike At Your Service”, we see Applejack being uncomfortable with someone assisting her in things she can do for herself, but wants to avoid hurting Spike’s feelings, especially as his dragon code is important to him. Also, Applejack cannot act to save her life. Applejack was also more prominent this season as compared to last season. The end of “Magical Mystery Cure” also gives us another name for Applejack’s element- integrity. (Also, baby Applejack is just too adorable for me to handle).
Spike’s episodes were just alright in this season. “Spike At Your Service” put more emphasis on Spike still holding on to his dragon identity, and “Just For Sidekicks” showcases his greed again, but shows maturity with the fact that he is willing to face the consequences of his actions.
Rainbow Dash got so much more growth here than in the previous seasons. Aside from taking Scootaloo under her wing, Rainbow was given the opportunity to take the first step to realizing her dream to become a Wonderbolt in “Wonderbolts Academy”, where she was allowed to go there for a week long boot camp. There, she is partnered with Lightning Dust, another great flyer who ends up becoming lead pony with Rainbow as wing pony. These two do have a lot in common, except for the fact that Lightning Dust is also reckless and inconsiderate, and has no qualms in hurting others in order to become the best. Rainbow does know that this is wrong, but keeps it in as it seems that the Wonderbolts have no problem with it, but it comes to a head after her friends almost get killed due to a tornado they caused. Because of this, Rainbow makes the decision that she’s willing to give up on her dream, if it means sacrificing what she believes in, which, honestly, takes a lot of guts to do. In the end, Rainbow is rewarded for this, and due to this, earned a lot of respect in the eyes of the viewers. This season also had great and cute moments from her. We have her snoring in the tent with Scootaloo, and all the little bits of affection that she shows for her pet tortoise.In the end of “Magical Mystery Cure”, Rainbow’s element is also called devotion.
Finally, let’s talk about Twilight Sparkle, and along the way, we’ll talk about “The Crystal Empire Pts. I & II” and “Magical Mystery Cure” as well, as they are all integral parts of her journey this season. As stories, “The Crystal Empire Pts. I & II” was more epic in scope with another one note villain, but with the introduction of a great new location. “Magical Mystery Cure” mostly served to allow Twilight to finally ascend into becoming an Alicorn, although it being a mostly musical episode was just awesome. Plus, “True, True Friend” will get stuck in your head as much as “Winter Wrap Up” did.
In Seasons One and Two, Twilight learned the importance of friendship, how to be a good friend, and how to better manage her own worries, stresses and fears.In this season, we see her learning to think out of the box, and not by the book in “Magic Duel”; her being given tasks that required her to be more of a leader, such as in “The Crystal Empire Pts. I & II” and “Games That Ponies Play”; and organizing and welcoming important guests such as in “Magic Duel” and in “Games That Ponies Play”. “The Crystal Empire” not only showed that Twilight was ready to sacrifice her own future for the sake the many; but it was a signal as well to Princess Celestia that she was ready to receive Star Swirl the Bearded’s notebook in order to finish his unfinished spell.
Here, we can see that Celestia probably knew that Twilight was destined to become a princess due to her Cutie Mark resembling one of the Elements of Harmony, and that she was gently guiding Twilight down this path, but allowing her the freedom to make her own mistakes and earn the position for herself.
In the end, Twilight did bring about a new kind of magic, magic that was mostly centered around friendship. However, as of the moment, Princess Twilight will have to get used to this new status quo before discovering what she is a princess of what exactly.
Now, this decision to make Twilight an Alicorn princess was pretty divisive in the fandom, but I think that this was a natural progression to Twilight’s character. Among all of the Mane Six, she currently now practices charity, compassion, integrity, optimism, and leadership, all qualities that make for a good ruler. Also, even if Twilight is royalty, all that changed really was that she had more royal duties to attend to, and that as of the moment, she can be a good mentor to others as well. It would also allow for new stories to be told with this new dynamic.
If there is one thing that I did notice, however, it is the fact that the background ponies weren’t as prominent as they were in previous seasons, which is a shame because the fandom does love the background ponies.
Season Three was definitely a transition period in the life of this show, and it introduced a gamechanger that threw most fans in a loop.It had better animation and songs, and had some great moments for Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle. It also featured more Applejack that Season 2. However, sometimes, the others and the background ponies weren’t given much attention. Despite all of this, Season Three did have plenty of memorable moments, and character development and is a season that is still largely enjoyable to watch.
What did you think of Season Three? What did you like or not like about it? What is your opinion on Alicorn Princess Twilight Sparkle? let me know what you think in the comments below!