And now for the second part of today's double feature. What do you know, it stars Trixie, everyone's favorite blue-furred magician! I wonder what wacky hijinks she'll pull today!
Let's review “All Bottled Up.”
Written By: Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco
First Aired: April 15, 2017
This episode in a nutshell: Trixie is an asshole. But she's also an adorable asshole who does feel sorry for her misdeeds, so she's at least endearing. Discord is still flat-out awful...but he's also not in this episode, so that's another plus.
The episode opens with Starlight and Trixie hanging out in the castle kitchen, as they are wont to do. Starlight helps Trixie complete a transformation spell that turns things into teacups, and Trixie thanks her by promptly turning many of the items in Twilight's home into useless teacups and ruining Starlight's tea cakes with a teacup-poodle abomination. This action, coupled with Trixie's flippant response to having ruined her friend's work, causes Starlight to...channel Jafar through her horn, I guess. The idea is that Starlight's building anger is welling up and about to explode, hence her solution of literally “bottling it up.”
The Mane 6 leave to go to a friendship retreat, leaving the symbolic teenagers alone at home. (Granted, Spike's there as well, but he doesn't do anything of note this episode.) And like many actual teens, Trixie immediately destroys Twilight's most valuable possession...or rather, teleports her Friendship Map to parts unknown. Starlight and Trixie have to find the map before mom Twilight gets home, but Trixie is more obsessed with massaging her ego and downing snacks than actually looking, and Starlight is slowly being drained by having to constantly bottle her anger. Sure enough, the bottle eventually breaks because Trixie's stubborn, and the anger seeps into a jeweler pony, Granny Smith, and Bulk Biceps, causing THEM to echo Starlight's very specific complaints about Trixie's behavior. Thankfully, everything gets resolved, Starlight gets to tell Trixie off, Trixie begs forgiveness, and they find the map at the spa. They get home just in time for Twilight and the others to return...and promptly go to the spa, meaning the two will be inevitably found out.
One thing I will say about this episode: it's one of the funniest the show has had in a while. Starlight and Trixie work off each other wonderfully, and while Trixie going full asshole is a bit much, it's both believable and gives more fuel for Starlight's anger. Trixie has always been defined by her massive ego, and her exploits this episode help feed that black hole. Every truly terrible thing she does is immediately preceding a genuinely amazing use of magical power, so of course she wants everyone to ignore the small issues like, say, an all-powerful magical map disappearing. After all, she just teleported a giant table away! Isn't that impressive? And while it does have to be spelled out to her, Trixie is still shown to be genuinely sorry for her behavior at the end. Some people just need someone nearby to tell them when they're crossing the line, and Starlight does that job fine with Trixie.
The overall lesson about not bottling up emotions is a good one, and I liked the literal metaphor the episode used. Starlight's anger is manifested as a giant red cloud, and as is often the case with media, “red” equals “bad.” And yet, by not telling Trixie that she's being a flakhole, Starlight unwittingly ends up encouraging her behavior until it explodes, i.e. the bottle breaking. And as is often the case is reality, anger can be infectious, as shown when the ponies who seemed to be at least warmly neutral to Trixie became consumed by Starlight's wrath. This is furthered by showing complete repression to be generally unhealthy, as Starlight's energy is drained from resisting the urge to yell at her friend for fear of losing her.
Also, Bulk Biceps has multiple jobs. Even in Equestria, the economy stinks.
You may have noticed I haven't mentioned the Mane 6's subplot with the Friendship Retreat, which turns out to be one of those “Trapped in a Room” puzzle games. That's because it largely isn't important to anything other than filling up air time. While the payoff for the song was good, the song itself was just meh. The only notable thing about the whole thing is how their eternal friendship is juxtaposed with the worsening situation in Ponyville, with the majority of the switches between scenes starting with opposing or ironic dialogue. It's clever, but the episode would have been just fine if they never appeared between boarding the train and coming home at the end.
This is a fun little episode about a friendship on the brink. While the secondary storyline comes off feeling arbitrary, the main plot presents a solid lesson while also building onto both Starlight's and Trixie's characters. At the very least, this is a plot that wouldn't work well with the Mane 6 at this point, so giving it to the relative newbies helps build up the ensemble aspect of the show, and all while providing some much-needed laughs.
This episode also brought us this:
I am unworthy of such happiness.
Next time, another episode. Man, seven seasons...it's been a long road, hasn't it? Started as a surprise hit on a doomed fledgling cable network, and continues to entertain so many years later. No matter what happens with the movie, we can't say this hasn't been a wild ride. Here's hoping for a solid season and a good year.