There are very few television events that are more exciting for me than a “Friendship is Magic” Season Finale. Despite the show’s steady decline (In my opinion) and regardless of how the rest of the Season plays out, the finales are always exciting because, for the most part, they feel like events. Whether that be from the promotional material, the story buildup, or the amount of hype the writers love to tease us with. Now that Season 6 has come and gone, there’s no better time to take a look back and see which Finales still hold up and which seem to be lacking. Let’s get started!! (WARNING: Here be spoilers.)
Number 6: To Where and Back Again (Written by Josh Haber and Mike Vogel)
It was both easy and hard to decide which Season Finale I was least fond of. For a long time, This episode had the Number 5 spot. But after letting TWABA Sit with me for a few weeks, I’m confident in placing this one last. It’s no secret that I thought Season 6 was below average, and while I thought this episode was one of the better entries in the Season, it still featured many of the issues that plagued previous S6 episodes. The dialogue and character interactions mostly fell flat and felt Unnatural, Starlight Glimmer and her squad isn’t nearly as strong or interesting as the Main 6, the slow pacing in Part 1 was questionable and the ending, which reveals an atrocious Changeling re-design, just left me feeling underwhelmed.
With that said, is there anything the episode did well? Of course. The Changeling Kingdom itself is oozing with atmosphere and creativity, Queen Chrysalis is an effective villain and is particularly brutal during the episode’s Climax, and Discord (voiced by the always charming John De Lance) is always a fun character to have around. Beyond that however, this Finale really didn’t have the same “Grand finale” feeling that many of the others did (Did I mention there’s no song!?) But that’s somewhat understandable, since the show staff knew there was a feature film and a whole other Season on the horizon. Is it a terrible episode? Mmm….Not sure, but it’s without a doubt my least favourite of the usually stellar Season Finales. A mediocre Finale for a mediocre Season.
Number 5: The Cutie Re-Mark (Written by Josh Haber)
The Cutie Re-Mark is a frustrating episode. I’m not really a big fan of time travel stories, simply because they often leave me feeling like nothing of consequence actually happened, since they’re often about preventing some disaster from happening in the first place. The Cutie Re-Mark is not much different, but it does have a few bright spots. The first alternate Future, where King Sombra declares war on the rest of Equestria, is downright AWESOME. I was loving every second of that timeline, but the problem is that’s where the episode peeks. After that, it becomes rather repetitive and by-the-numbers for a time travel story. Sure, it was cool to see all the major villains make a return, but that’s about all this episode has going for it (at least for me.) Starlight’s redemption is poorly handled and far too rushed, the ending song is terribly unmemorable compared to others, and the rest of the main cast don’t really get anything to do aside from spout exposition about the alternate timelines. Overall, The Cutie Re-mark can be fun at times, but it doesn’t offer much beyond some flashy eye-candy and the thrill of seeing familiar foes return for brief cameos.
Number 4: Twilight’s Kingdom (Written by Meghan McCarthy)
What’s this!? The critical darling “Twilight’s Kingdom” is only at fourth place? The truth is, I think Twilight’s Kingdom is simply decent. That’s not to say I don’t understand why most people love it. It actually has quite a bit going for it in terms of spectacle and entertainment value. Make no mistake, Twilight’s Kingdom is by no means a bad episode. I don’t even really dislike it. It just has elements that unfortunately bog it down a few notches for me. Celestia’s plan involving transferring the Magic in part 2 feels half-baked and makes no sense. (And I mean NO sense when you see how it plays out.) Lord Tirek is an interesting character in Part 1, but by the time he grows into a giant he loses a lot of his personality and becomes a mere brute, rather than the cunning and spooky baddie we were introduced to.
I also have a lot of issues with various aspects of the ending; from the ugly Rainbow Power designs, to the way the sky changes from hellish red to bright and sunny with hardly any transition, to that horrible new Castle that replaces the Golden Oak Library, all the way to the weak final song. That being said, Twilight’s Kingdom is still good popcorn fun if you view it as such. The final showdown between Tirek and Twilight is engrossing and surprisingly intense, The opening song “You’ll Play Your part” is a gorgeous Lion King-esc Show stopper, Discord gets some good laughs, and the overall presentation of the two episodes is admittedly quite epic, but for me, the episode ends up being just barely below average. Not one of the best, not one of the worst, just somewhere in between.
Number 3: Magical Mystery Cure (Kinda Written By M.A. Larson, though it’s complicated.)
Oh Boy howdy, here’s where things get good. Remember when FIM finales were, y’know, Full-on EVENTS? Remember when it seemed like they were going to try something new with every Finale instead of repeating the same “threat to Equestria” storyline over and over? While it’s not as brilliant nor as funny as the the episodes I’ve placed in slots 1 and 2, this is still one of the better Season Finales the show has produced.
Feeling more like a Series Finale than anything else, this episode miraculously ties up nearly all loose ends in under a half-hour. This does make the episode feel a little rushed, but it also makes the entire ride fuelled by pure emotion and heart thanks to a sweeping score by William Anderson and some ridiculously catchy and touching songs by Daniel Ingram. (I don’t care if you say you didn’t cry during “Celestia’s Balled”. You totally did and you know it.) The whole Princess Coronation was surprise to no one, thanks to a massive and hype-enducing marketing campaign, and while I was left cold with how they handled Twilight’s new Princess role in later Seasons, I enjoy how it’s established here. I said this back in February of 2013 when the episode first aired, and I’m saying it again now; If the Series ended right here, I would’ve been very satisfied. (Maybe throw in that full circle “Elements of Harmony book closing” original shot that Larson had in mind though) Pacing issues aside, this is one kickass Season Finale.
Number 2: The Best Night Ever (Written By Amy Keating Rogers)
I didn’t even watch this episode until a few weeks after it aired, because I was afraid that there would be no more episodes of my new favourite show at the time. Eventually my sister convinced me to watch it, and I’m very glad that she did, because this is by far The funniest Finale on this list, and definitely the one with the tightest script. “The Best Night Ever” was a big deal upon its release. Back then, many of us were unsure if the show was going to get another Season. While the show was critically well received, it wasn’t doing super well with TV ratings because the time-slot it had was junk. (New episodes in S1 aired during the day while kids where still in school!) And on top of that, many fans were anticipating the Grand Galloping Gala itself. We were right there with the Mane 6, looking forward to the big night, and what we got was nothing short of excellent.
While some have complained that the episode feels “Less eventful” than other two parters, I couldn’t disagree more. Sure, there’s no big monster to fight, nor is there any “end of the world” conflict to be found, but you know what IS in this episode? Character. Loads and loads of character. Each of the mane cast get their moment to shine here, presenting us with some very funny and insightful facts about their personalities. (Who knew Fluttershy was a little insane?) The Songs…what can I say? They’re some of the show’s best. “At the Gala” is my personal favourite, the epic choir, fun choreography and clever lyrics provide a real showstopper of a musical number, and Pinkie’s songs while attempting to “Liven things up” are all very funny and memorable, if a little short. It’s both hilarious and heartbreaking to see the “Best Night Ever”unfold into a total disaster for each of them, but the way the episode wraps itself up, with a message of simply enjoying life as it is and not feeling distraught when things don’t go as perfectly as planned, is a good and even sobering moral with a message that many children and adults alike could take away from the episode. All in all, The Best Night Ever is one of the most charming and satisfying episodes of the series, and is one of the most personal Finales for me.
Number 1: A Canterlot Wedding (Written By Meghan McCarthy)
This is it. The Big One. A Canterlot Wedding isn’t just my favourite Season Finale. It’s not just my favourite episode of FIM. It’s one of my favourite episodes of ANY show ever. What a joyfully grand and epic episode. Does anyone remember how amazingly marketed this episode was? There were banners, commercials, wedding invitations and more surrounding the episode’s airing. It aired around the same time as the real UK Royal Wedding back in 2012, and the Hub Network took full advantage of that and advertised the heck out of this thing. Much like magical Mystery Cure (Only died up to eleven) This really did feel like a major event. And how was the episode itself? Even better. What we were given was essentially FIM meets a film straight out of the Disney Renaissance. The epic scale brings to mind the likes of animated classics like The Little Mermaid and The Lion King. The musical numbers are the best the show has ever conceived. “This Day Aria” continues to be in my top ten favourite villain songs, and “B.B.B.F.F. is a very sweet and touching opening number. What makes this episode better than something like “Twilight’s Kingdom” for me is the story. This Two-parter doesn’t hold back when it comes to the real emotional punches, ( the ending of Part 1, anyone?) and the story is unpredictable enough to where the emotional scenes don’t feel contrived.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about villains. Spoiler alert: Queen Chrysalis is diabolical, creepy, and gorgeously designed, and is to this day one of the best villains FIM has ever had. (Second only to Discord) The Changelings are a brilliant addition to the world of Equestria (despite the fact that I think they butchered them in S6) and the fight scene between the Mane 6 and the Changeling Army is one of the best action sequences…nah, scratch that, it IS the best action scene in the show, thanks to how strikingly well it balances the humour and intensity. I friggin love this episode so much, I could gush about it forever, but I thin kI’ll save that for another time. Bottom line; This is where the show peaked. (At least for me.) It was the episode I alway wanted, A Disney-style FIM adventure, presented to me in a way that was better than I could’ve ever imagined. It’s my favourite episode of the series, and one of my favourite pieces of Media in general, and I hope one day I can truly do it justice with a proper write-up.
And there you have it! my own personal ranking of the Season Finales. If you’re a FIM fan, how would you rank the Finales? Let me know in the comments!