Good Heavens! Two Rarity-centric episodes in a row? A rarity, indeed! Yes, this week, we’ve got our lenses focused on “Rarity Investigates!”. The title is probably one of the most direct we’ve had in the show, given the series’ penchant of spoofing classic titles of movies, books, and famous phrases, but it sells the idea immediately. However, given the subject matter at hand here, I won’t be going too heavy into the plot this time around, and I’ll instead talk about some of the things about the episode which I found good, or at least interesting.
Right of the bat, one thing that immediately had me smiling was the fact that, for once, this episode directly follows the previous one. This may not sound like much, but episode-to-episode continuity and timing is kind of rare for the series, typically reserved for the two-parters that open and close the season. It picks up right where “Canterlot Boutique” ends, with Rarity displaying a new line of outfits inspired by a character named Shadow Spade who, judging by the outfits, must be like Nancy Drew with Carmen Sandiego’s wardrobe. It’s a nice choice, thematically speaking.
Speaking of theming, this episode is rife with the classic cues and tropes present in film noir: The use of internal narration, the use of monochrome palettes and stark contrast between light and dark, the muted trumpets and longue music, and even the ways that the clues are presented to the audience. Heck, the title’s even a reference to the Poirot Investigates novels of Agatha Christie! They even use the Good Cop, Bad Cop routine and at one point, even take a page from Sin City with the use of color against monochrome to indicate significance. They even have Sherlock and Watson cameo in one scene, which is a nice touch.
The set-up is decent enough. Rarity and Rainbow Dash are to attend a Wonderbolts aerial show (The Wonderbolts being this universe’s equivalent to the Blue Angels), with Rainbow acting as a reserve flier in case one of the team members can’t perform. At the dinner before practice, the two meet a record-holding Wonderbolt named Wind Rider, who’ll be flying in the spot of honor in one of their signature formation flights. Rainbow Dash being Rainbow Dash, she’s exceptionally excited about the opportunity, even if she’s only a reserve. However, when Spitfire’s mother allegedly letters in sick, Spitfire is forced to leave, and Rainbow Dash gets to fly in her place. All’s well, right? Well, it would have been if Spitfire’s mom hadn’t shown up practice, which leads people to suspect that someone might have set Spitfire up to try to take her place, which leaves Rainbow in hot water.
The weakest point is arguably the conclusion. It seems way too obvious and easy, given the story. While the clues do come together nicely, I think it was spoiled by the short run-time. Usually, stories in the Noir genre tend to slow things down, and when you only have 22 minutes to work with, that’s not really an option. It doesn’t hurt the episode too grievously, though, as it maintains some great comedy and the chemistry between Rarity and Rainbow Dash is surprisingly good. I’ll admit upfront that Rainbow Dash is probably my least favorite character of the series, primarily due to how Season 4 made her into a bit of an ass. (Donkey pun not intended).
All in all, as a mystery, you’re better off watching MMMMystery on the Friendship Express (A play on the classic Murder on the Oriental Express) in Season 2. Taken as its own thing, it’s a nice pastiche of Film Noir, and the team behind it (Megan McCarthy, M.A. Larson, Joanna Lewis, and Kristine Songco, the latter two of which wrote this episode) really had fun with the premise. It’s far from the best episode of the season, but it’s far from terrible.
Rumor has it, the next episode is also meant to be a Rarity episode. If that’s true, then we’re primed for a hattrick. See you next week!