Sunday, 10 August 2014

Retrospective review: The Best Night Ever

It's the season finale, and oh man is it wonderful.

The Best Night Ever is a contender for the best episode of the first season. I'm far from the only person saying this, as it's one of the most popular episodes of the series, and for good reason. Sure, it partially comes from the great humour that we've come to expect, but as a finale this episode is also immensely satisfying.

That's largely credit to our cast of characters. In the small details, we can see how far they've come as friends. Their interactions come across as much closer than before. The ultimate lesson of the episode in fact reflects on that, saying that good friends can make light of the worst situations. This final status, where the main six are good friends, is a fitting conclusion for a season largely about the six coming to know each other better. It feels like the logical end point for this season, and in a way elevates the season as a whole.

But the episode is also great as a whole. The Gala had been built up to for most of the season, and as such the ponies seem just as excited about it as viewers are. What we get is an episode that is easily one of the season's most memorable. Great moments litter the episode from start to finish, from big things like Fluttershy losing her composure to small things like Soarin's enthusiasm for his pie. In fact, the episode has few moments that aren't memorable, and all for the right reasons.

When it comes down to it, it's the characters that make this work. Rainbow strives for glory, but this causes her to make a scene. Pinkie's familiar with a more energetic sort of event, and gathers negative attention when she tries to become the life of a lifeless party. Fluttershy and Rarity lose their composure when things don't go as expected, and Applejack finds her attempt to sell apples futile. It's credit to the show that we care about these ponies and that we feel their disappointment, as well as their resolve not to let the night go to waste. We are invested in these characters, and we care about their enjoyment of the Gala. That is perhaps the best thing I could say about it.

This episode also boasts one of the show's greatest songs, known among fans as "At the Gala". Each pony's verse matches their personality and clearly spells out their motives, and their singing voices are all lovely as well. The soaring orchestration is beautiful and grandiose, which matches the tone of the episode. This is something big.

It's also the prettiest episode of season 1. The setting is gorgeously designed, from the main hall to the gardens to the night sky. There's a ton of neat visual effects all over, and of course the main six's dresses are beautiful. From a sheer aesthetic standpoint, the episode is already great. Add in the rest of the episode, and it's even better.

Yeah, it's the best episode of the season. There's a lot of people who agree with that. Few episodes in the show are quite this satisfying, and quite this wonderful from start to finish. Watching through season 1 again has been very interesting, as I saw not only how the show improved but also how the characters grew. It all gave me a new appreciation for the season, and especially for this ending that seems to so encapsulate what makes the show so great. But this is just the beginning. Next, I'll be doing retrospective reviews of season 2, so stay tuned.

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