Monday, 6 July 2015

Episode review: S5E12: "Amending Fences"

Twilight and her new old friends say hello to Moondancer
Well, she does have "wink" in her name...
Three weeks ago, M. A. Larson gave us the truly extraordinary "Slice of Life". He returned this week to offer up "Amending Fences", which from the previews looked as though it was also going to feature some background ponies. Not in quite the same way as before, though; in fact, this looked as though it was going to be something of a return to MLP:FiM as we used to know it. The big question was whether this episode would work. The answer to that is...

...yes! Oh, my sweet Celestia, yes yes yes yes yes. This week's instalment overcomes its slightly pointless title (the simpler "Mending Fences" would actually have worked better) to be, if we put "Slice of Life" off to one side as the riotous oddity that it is, the best ep that this season has so far come up with. Actually, it's in the very top tier of episodes the series as a whole has produced, and almost everything Larson touches here turns to gold.

This is a properly Twilight-centric episode, something we haven't had for a little while. (She's been an important supporting pony, of course, as in last week's "Party Pooped".) We finally get to see how her Canterlot friends and acquaintances were affected by the pony Twi was way back before S1 began – before the magic of friendship began to turn her into the mare she is today. And it's done superbly, with just about everything feeling spot on.

Lemon Hearts gets her head stuck in a beaker
She may not be toothpaste any more, but Minuette looks after her teeth
That includes the callbacks and flashbacks. ("Twilight Twinkle" is brilliant.) A lesser writer might have gone overboard with these, but Larson takes just as much time as he needs to, no more. There's only one filly-era flashback, but the little "science lab" sequence speaks volumes about how similar Twilight and Moondancer once were; note their respective manestyles! Similarly, the little clip from the S1 premiere is kept short and sweet, rather than wallowing in nostalgia for too long.

But my goodness, what a hit in the feels it is to see Twilight's Canterlot home again after all this time, dusty and apparently abandoned. We even see the book about the Elements of Harmony, complete with the strange writing that the show hasn't used in more recent seasons. It does seem a bit strange that the place has been allowed to decay like that, though – maybe Twilight should consider asking a local librarian to look after it?

Minuette (whose name is finally unarguable) proves to be the most fun of the Canterlot background ponies. Given her bouncy, bubbly and slightly manic personality, it doesn't feel off at all that she turns out to be a long-standing friend of Pinkie Pie's. (More on Pinkie in a minute.) Twinkleshine seems to be a little more grounded, while Lemon Hearts will now forever be remembered for that beaker scene! Not to mention finally seeing Joe's place from the outside.

Twilight appears in Moondancer's book
"And you wouldn't believe what I found in Lyra's old diaries!"
Spike plays quite an important supporting part in this episode, showing once again that he works better in this role than as a lead character. The only member of the Mane Six (other than Twilight) to appear at all is Pinkie Pie: she's only on screen for a few minutes, but she's entirely suited for the part she plays. Her helicopter tail is borderline-excessive Pinkie Physics, but I can overlook that and I really love her entry flight aboard Twilight.

Most of all, though, this episode shows us – in Moondancer – what Twilight might have become had she not moved to Ponyville. (Echoes of Rainbow Dash and Lightning Dust there.) It's something that affects Twi quite deeply, partly because of her own memories and also because of her guilt as she realises that, by not going to Moondancer's party, she was the catalyst for her one-time friend retreating back into the shell she'd tried briefly to leave.

We're also treated to a practical demonstration of how much Twilight has grown in the years since she left Canterlot: old Twi would never have seemed so assured in her quest to befriend Moondancer. The Princess of Friendship, though, takes setbacks almost in her stride and presses on, obviously drawing on what she's learned (even to the extent of quoting Celestia's S1-premiere comment about dusty old books) and wins through by sheer force of friendship.

Moondancer and Twilight share an emotional hug
More alike even than they know...
This being a Larson episode, even a serious-minded one, we have to have a bit of weirdness. Apart from Pinkie's semi-cameo, this most manifests itself in the library scene, with Twilight making use of Haycart's spell to allow oneself to appear in a book. (This isn't that far from what we saw in the Bookworm comic arc, actually.) I'm not surprised that Moondancer jumped a bit at seeing that; I think most of us would! Okay, Minuette would probably just giggle. What is she on?

Naturally, everything works out in the end, because this is My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and we need our sunshine and rainbows. But it does so in a deeply satisfying and life-affirming way, in an episode that is an utter triumph for Twilight, and indeed for Mr Larson. If I had one minor complaint, it would be that there's no song – it's seven episodes now since the last one – but I struggle to think of what might be dropped for it. I loved this ep on first watching; on second watching, I think it's a classic. Bravo.

(Also: nobody seems to know whether she's "Moondancer" or "Moon Dancer", so for now I'm going with the one-word form used in the end credits.)

Best quote: Spike: "Let's hope they're not as traumatised as Minuette."

  • Wonderful, emotionally affecting episode
  • Feels more like traditional FiM than much of S5
  • Excellent use of backstory and flashbacks
  • Minuette and her friends are great fun
  • Moondancer as Twilight's Lightning Dust
  • Pinkie Pie's weird but fitting short appearance
  • Spike working well as a support for Twi
  • The "Twilight in the library book" scene
  • Starlight Glimmer cameo! But why is she there?
  • Still no song since episode 5
  • The episode title is just slightly awkward


  1. Once again season 5 has delivered a classic. It's great to M.A larson back. There is one thing that is bugging me about this season, is that we are 12 episodes into the season and Fluttershy has been missing in a third of them already.Here's hoping she won't become this season's background pony.

    1. I'm not too upset about 'Shy so far -- she's had some excellent supporting roles, and was heavily involved in the Discord episode. More to the point, when she has appeared she's been interesting, and I'd rather that than have her in every ep but just overcoming shyness again and again!

  2. Interestingly, Moondancer/Moon Dancer looks just like a G1 pony of the same name, except that her fur is tan instead of white.

    1. Yeah, I'm sure that's deliberate. It's too big a coincidence to be otherwise. =:)

    2. Moondancer probably is the second G1 pony to come back, and I heard Hasbro actually did release the original G1 ponies again once, so they kinda do have them back I think...if that's true, we can expect to see more G1 ponies appearing.

    3. Who was the first G1 pony to come back? I'm assuming you don't mean Applejack here. :P

    4. (I'm the anon)

      I think I was talking about Applejack, but Moondancer actually may be the first...

      And this is just a minor unrelated thing, but I see the Starlight cameo as a neigh, not a yay (I REALLY hate her).