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Written by Amy Keating Rogers
The night of the Grand Galloping Gala has finally arrived! Everyone's excited about it being "the best night ever", and hopes for each of their dreams to come true. To recap: Fluttershy wants to befriend the creatures in the gardens surrounding the palaces, Applejack wants to sell apple-based treats to raise money for the family farm, Rarity wants to meet her Prince Charming, Rainbow Dash wants to meet (and hopefully join) the Wonderbolts, and Pinkie Pie wants to live it up at the biggest party in Equestria. Also, we find out that Twilight Sparkle wants to simply chat with Princess Celestia, while Spike hopes to hang out with his friends and show them around Canterlot. As soon as the group arrives at the palace, though, all except Spike run off to set their plans into motion, leaving him all alone...
At first, things seem to be going all right, and at least somewhat according to what the girls envisioned. However, things quickly go wrong. The party-goers don't appreciate Pinkie's enthusiastic nature; Twilight can't get a chance to really have a conversation with the Princess as the two of them have to greet every single guest; Rarity's object of affection, Prince Blueblood, acts like a complete Jerkass towards her; all the animals in the garden run away from Fluttershy, who grows more and more impatient as they do so; Rainbow Dash gets to hang out with the VIP crowd thanks to the Wonderbolts recognizing her, but can't get a moment to talk to them and Applejack ends up making only two sales after about an hour at the Gala - one of which was to Rarity. Determined, however, the ponies pledge to make it the "best night ever".
Things quickly get out of hoof, though. When the partygoers reject Pinkie's peppy singing and dancing because it isn't "that kind of party", she assumes that they want her to get even more aggressive and rowdy. Applejack realizes that no one's been buying her wares because fancier hors d'oeuvres are available, so she whips up something more sophisticated. Fluttershy, meanwhile, is physically chasing all the animals around the castle grounds, growing steadily more unhinged as she does so. The whole disaster reaches its boiling point when Applejack carts a huge cake into the ballroom just as Pinkie does a stage dive into the crowd. Pinkie lands onto the cart, knocking the cake into the air. Prince Blueblood uses Rarity as a shield against the cake, whereupon she thoroughly chews him out for his horrible behavior all night. Cornered, the Prince knocks over a statue, which Rainbow Dash quickly catches, only to knock down several columns in the process. As the dust settles, Princess Celestia and Twilight arrive on the scene, and just when Twilight thinks it can't get any worse, a stampede of wild animals being pursued by a furiously insane(!) Fluttershy rushes in, causing everyone to panic. The Princess tells Twilight to run, and she does so, her friends following behind. On the way down the stairs, Rarity drops one of her glass slippers. After Pinkie tells her that her prince would surely use it to find her, the horrified Rarity stomps on the slipper before fleeing in terror.
The girls meet up with Spike, who's been drowning his sorrows in fried pastry and sprinkles at a local doughnut shop. They all relate what went wrong with their night over a plate of doughnuts, and agree that it was the worst night ever. Just then, Celestia arrives in the shop, thanking the ponies for making it the best Gala ever. Turns out the Gala's always a boring, horrible event, and Celestia invited the six in hopes that they would liven things up a bit, although the chaos that followed wasn't exactly what they had in mind. The episode ends with Twilight realizing that friends can make even the worst situations seem that much better.
Tropes (YMMV items can be found here).
- Ambiguous Situation: Prince Blueblood's use of "one" when he expects Rarity to put her cloak over a puddle:
Prince Blueblood: Miss Rarity! Stop!
- And again when he expects her to get the door for him.
- Bad Bad Acting: When Fluttershy sets her first trap.
Fluttershy: I'm sooo sorry to have scared you, my friends, but I'm leaving now, so you can all come out! (disappears behind a bush)
- Ballroom Blitz: Call it what you will, but the Gala is clearly a royal ball of some sort and one of the fanciest events in Canterlot... then it all slowly starts to go to hell.
- Bishie Sparkle
- Bittersweet Ending: The Gala was a complete disaster for the Mane Six, and some of them had their big dreams pretty much dashed, but at least the friends are able to commiserate with each other (along with none other than Princess Celestia) over donuts and cocoa.
- Bow Ties Are Cool: Octavia, Spike, and one apparent incarnation of Doctor Whooves.
- Call Back
- The Wonderbolts recognize Rainbow Dash from the events of "Sonic Rainboom".
- The ponies all wear the dresses Rarity designed for them.
- The ponies finally get to enact their plans from the third episode.
- Pinkie's straight hair makes an appearance, but poofs up again because she's happy.
- Spike wears the tux he's seen wearing in "Feeling Pinkie Keen", but without the top hat because in that episode Twilight failed to produce one with her magic.
- Carrying a Cake
- Comically Missing the Point: When Pinkie Pie is informed that this is not that kind of party, she takes it in the wrong direction.
"Oh! These ponies don't want a party… they want a PAR-TAY!"
- Crowd Song: The ponies' arrival at the Gala is marked by one of these, which doubles as a Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number.
- Cut Song: The "Piggy Dance" song featured in "Baby Cakes" was originally meant to be in this episode, but was cut due to time constraints.
- Defied Trope: See Genre Savvy below.
- Disaster Dominoes: How the mane cast ends up destroying the Gala.
- Dramatic Thunder: Fluttershy doing her Evil Laugh.
- Drowning My Sorrows/Drunk on Milk: Spike does this with doughnuts. It even comes complete with an I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough! exchange.
- Epic Fail: Engineered by Celestia
- Evil Laugh: Fluttershy. No, really. Really. It's actually kind of loud. It even gets Dramatic Thunder and a proper Rearing Horse pose... which she has trouble landing.
- Face Palm: When Twilight worries about losing the mice-turned-horses for the carriage, Rarity does everything but point out the obvious.
- Finish Dialogue in Unison: See the page quote.
- Foil: Prince Blueblood is prissy and regal like Rarity, and demonstrates what a jerk she isn't. Where Rarity is generous to a fault despite how she appears, Prince Blueblood is a complete Jerkass who cares only about himself.
- To a lesser extent, this happens to the others. Fluttershy encounters animals that are shyer than her, Pinkie's troubles come from ponies that must party the right way, the guests are too proud to eat AJ's food, Rainbow loses the Wonderbolts to people louder and more attention-seeking, and the schedule works against Twilight.
- Foreshadowing: Twilight's attempt to recreate the fairy tale enchanted-carriage-and-horses archetype is a mild foreshadowing of the gala itself -- everything starts off as expected, but falls apart soon afterward...
- Furry Confusion: Twilight's plan to magically create horses to pull everypony's carriage... and Rarity's alternate solution when it goes wrong. Even Spike gets in on the fun when he attempts to direct the carriage.
- Genre Savvy: Pinkie Pie and Rarity, with a twist:
- The Girl Who Fits This Slipper: Defied Trope when Rarity smashes her dropped slipper rather than deal with the prince again.
- Gone Horribly Right: Princess Celestia invited the Mane cast in hopes that they'd liven up the Gala; they prove so lively that the Gala is destroyed by their antics. Played with in that Celestia still considers this an improvement over how the Gala would have gone without them.
- More like she was just expecting something like this to happen; In the third episode, she sent Twlight two tickets, one for her and one for (presumably) Spike. But when she sends them back saying she won't go without all her friends, Celestia sends enough for everyone. In this case, it's more along the lines of "this is going to be amazing" then "this is an amazing plan"
- Groin Attack: Part of Pinkie Pie's "Pony Pokey" performance. Pity the poor piano-playing pony.
- Even better, his piano playing jumps up a few octaves when he gets it.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Lampshaded.
Spike: [Knocking] Aw, c'mon, you guys! Let me in!
- Hero Syndrome: Rainbow Dash flirts with this towards the end of the episode.
- Heroic Vow: The ponies' each resolve to make the evening the best night ever.
- Hype Backlash: The mane cast's failed expectations are an In-Universe example of this.
- "I Want" Song: A variation.
- I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!: Spike and doughnuts.
- It's the Best Whatever Ever!
- Love Hungry: Fluttershy when the animals reject her repeated attempts to get close.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Mane Cast's forays into Trying Too Hard to make the night the Best Night Ever universally just make the night worse for them and those around them.
- Literally with Rainbow Dash, who rushes in to catch a toppled statue. But then the statue proves just a little too much for her to hold and she winds up stumbling into several pillars in the process. So now instead of one broken statue, there's also several broken pillars which are scattered across most of the ballroom. And then, just to add insult to injury, the statue breaks, too.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Given that Fluttershy is ordinarily one of the sweetest characters on the show... if not the sweetest... it's quite surprising when she goes crazy.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: It seems that Ashleigh Ball has some trouble singing in Applejack's voice, instead she uses her own singing voice and puts a slight accent on the lyrics that are more spoken than sung. Rainbow Dash isn't immune to this either as her voice loses some of its usual rasp although it's barely noticeable.
- Somewhat ironic, in that (with the exception of Fluttershy), Applejack and Rainbow Dash are the only members of the "Mane 6" who are voiced and sung by the same actress.
- Pony Shield: Prince Blueblood makes Rarity into one when a flying cake comes their way. She is definitely not amused.
- Picky Eater: Prince Blueblood and many other stuck-up ponies.
Prince Blueblood: My royal lips have touched common carnival fare!
- "Previously On...": "At the Gala" is a stealth version of this, since it reminds the audience of all the characters' expectations about the Gala that had been established in "The Ticket Master" (except for Twilight wanting to be with the Princess, which was introduced in this episode.)
- Prince Charmless: Blueblood. So very, very much. Rarity actually describes him in nearly those words.
- Punctuated for Emphasis: When Psychoshy shows up.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Rarity finally giving Prince Blueblood what for.
You, sir, are the most uncharming prince I have ever met! In fact, the only thing royal about you is that you are a royal pain!
- Rock Bottom/Tempting Fate: Twilight saying that things can't get any worse.
- Rule of Funny: The only reason anypony would wear hoofwear that could be destroyed by stepping too hard.
- Sanity Slippage: Fluttershy. Who'd have guessed?
Fluttershy: You're... going... to LOVE ME!!!!!
- Shout-Out: "At the Gala" has quite a few similarities to "Ever After" from Into the Woods.
- The song between Fluttershy and the meadowlark is straight-up the same melody as Snow White's during her "I'm Wishing" song.
- And then when she finds the gardener pony, he explains that he enjoys whistling while he works.
- When Rainbow Dash saves Soarin's pie from falling, the background sound is the famous "bionic sound" used in The Six Million Dollar Man during similar Bullet Time/Overcrank heroic moments.
- Fluttershy's attempt to trap a critter and its resulting backfire would land her among the ranks of Elmer Fudd and Wile E. Coyote.
- The˙fruit-based carriage and mice turned into horses is reminiscent of Cinderella.
- See Genre Savvy above.
- The song between Fluttershy and the meadowlark is straight-up the same melody as Snow White's during her "I'm Wishing" song.
- Spontaneous Choreography: On part of everyone during "At the Gala".
- Squee: Quite literally Rainbow Dash's reaction to finally getting to hang out with the Wonderbolts.
- Suspiciously Apropos Music: Pinkie's "Pony Pokey" song is played over scenes of the other ponies trying to have a good time at the Gala, with the lyrics matching up to their situations and actions very well.
- Suspiciously Similar Song: The Hokey Pokey is not in the public domain in America, so the tune of Pinkie Pie's "Pony Pokey" is slightly altered.
- "At The Gala" is based on "Ever After" from Into the Woods.
- They Clean Up Nicely: Spike is amazed by how the girls look in their outfits.
- Title Drop: Several times over the course of the episode.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Pony Pokey", before each of the second through fifth verses.
- Uncanny Valley: In-Universe. This is everypony's reaction when Twilight transforms Fluttershy's mouse friends into slightly mouse-faced horses to pull their carriage.
- Waistcoat of Style: Pinkie and Rainbow's dresses have these.
- Wanting Is Better Than Having: The aesop of the episode.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: A quite literal example in that we never find out what happened to the mice/horses that were originally going to pull the carriage after Opal scared them off.
- Twilight made a passing mention just before Opal's entrance that the spell only lasts until midnight, as appropriate of her genre stealing… so, they most likely returned to Fluttershy's entourage the next morning…
- Twilight turns four mice into horses, but we only see three run away after Opalescense pounces.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: A lot of the cast's problems come from assuming that they're in a Fairy Tale rather than an Aesop comedy.
- Xanatos Gambit: Princess Celestia had one going on. Either she got to spend the evening with her student (making the boring party at least slightly more bearable), the mane cast would make the party more interesting, or (as actually happened) the mane cast would make things so "interesting" that the boring party would be over faster.
- Let's see… Celestia's party got cut short by a spectacular case of Disaster Dominoes courtesy of Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie knocked her guests out of their starched shirt complacency, her Prince Charmless of a nephew got a well deserved "The Reason You Suck" Speech and she got to spend some quality time in a relaxed late-night restaurant with the mane cast. Yup, a winner is Celestia.
- Yandere: Oh, Fluttershy. This is the source for her infamous meme, "You are going to LOVE ME"