Suffice it to say that, for various reasons not relevant to a critical notice, I don’t get to watch American cartoons except when they get shipped to me for review. So, my only background to My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic‘s “A Canterlot Wedding” (my goodness, that’s a lot of words to use when identifying this two-part season ender) is the DVD set I got to watch previously. I don’t know what else the show has done since then, or how well it’s done it.
I suppose I can say that “A Canterlot Wedding” isn’t bad, but I wouldn’t have been so impressed by MLP:FIM if this episode were my first exposure to it. Oh sure, the designs are nice, and there are some songs and a few jokes. But it is very plot heavy, and not in a way that charms.
The story has Twilight Sparkle’s older brother, whom she adores, getting married to her old babysitter, Princess Cadance. Twilight has some problems with the union, however: Aside from the fact that she had to learn of the wedding from a second-hand source, she is increasingly suspicious of Princess Cadance, who is acting quite out of character. No one else notices or cares, however, even though Twilight’s brother, who is the captain of the guard, is suffering migraines and a general weakness even as he has to use his powers to protect Canterlot from some kind of threat.
That’s an awful lot of plot, even for a two-part episode. It’s professionally constructed–and feels it; you can practically hear the whir of the well-oiled mechanisms within–but it is entirely predictable as well. The big secret is obvious almost from the instant Princess Cadence appears, and there are no surprises of any kind. The plot creaks forward, and there aren’t any moments–as in those early episodes of the series–where things canter off in unexpected directions. There are few character notes to speak of, and if you don’t already know the show’s cast, you won’t see them do much that will tell you about them.
Put it this way: It comes from a script so generic that, with a little cutting-and-pasting of character and place names, it could be used in any action cartoon. Thus, there is nothing specially Pony-ish about it. It’s not even clear that there’s a moral in it, except maybe that paranoiacs sometimes have enemies.
I guess it works as a season ender, but I suspect it probably would have been better as a regular episode. Instead of trying to cram in all the tropes consistent with its plot, it might have been forced into being ingenious–and novel.