To Where and Back Again
"To Where and Back Again" is the two-part season finale of the sixth season of the Canadian-American animated television series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and the 142nd and 143rd episodes of the series overall. It was directed by Denny Lu and Tim Stuby, written by Josh Haber and Michael Vogel. The episode first aired on October 22nd, 2016, on Discovery Family during their Frightober event for October and Halloween.
In "To Where and Back Again", Starlight Glimmer is invited back to her old village for the Sunset Festival they are celebrating, but is having doubts that Double Diamond, Sugar Belle, Night Glider, Party Favor, and the other villagers have forgiven her completely for her past actions with taking away their cutie marks when she originally led the village before her reformation, and is also worried about assuming a leadership role there again after those previous events. She decides to take Trixie with her, but upon returning to Ponyville, discovers that the Mane Six have been kidnapped and replaced by changelings, all part of a plot by the vengeful Queen Chrysalis to take over Equestria again after her previous defeat in "A Canterlot Wedding" by kidnapping and replacing the Mane Six and Royal Family with changeling fakes to feed off the love the ponies have for them to make her unstoppable. Starlight forms an unlike team of allies with Trixie, Discord, and the changeling defector Thorax, to enter the domain of Queen Chrysalis to rescue her friends and stop the second changeling invasion at its source before it's too late.
This finale was a change of pace from previous season premieres or finales in that, instead of the Mane Six being the ones to stop the villain's threat to Equestria after the villain had nearly won after their plan had just about come to fruition, the duty fell on Starlight Glimmer, who has to rely on the likes of some unlikely allies, including Trixie, Discord, and very nervous and terrified changeling defector, to prevent Queen Chrysalis from taking Equestria over without any objections due to having taken all five Alicorn Princesses, Prince Shining Armor, Spike, and the Elements of Harmony bearers prisoner without drawing too much attention to the kidnappings.
This finale received many positive reviews from fans, but several thought it was the worst season finale they've seen as they were concerned that the treatment of the Mane Six and Royal Family here to allow Starlight and her friends to be the heroes for once was disgraceful, there was no song like in previous finales, and the ending result of what became of the changelings felt rushed and lackluster compared to previous season finales. Some fans suggested making it a three-part finale just to allow more room for events to play out in a more fluid manner instead of rushing everything at the end.
Starlight is helping Twilight and Spike in the Castle of Friendship, when she receives an invitation back to her old village for the Sunset Festival they are holding, but fearful of being in a leadership role there again, Starlight is hesitant to go. After being given advice by Princess Luna in her dream, Starlight explains her fears to the Mane Six, and at Twilight's suggestion, Starlight takes Trixie with her for support as she leaves to visit her old village.
However, once there, Starlight is swarmed by Double Diamond, Party Favor, Sugar Belle, Night Glider, and the other villagers, and overcome with fear, she panics, forcing Trixie to use one of her improved smoke bombs to allow her and Starlight to escape and return to Ponyville. However, once back in Ponyville, Starlight notices the Mane Six acting strangely, from not recognizing her name, to not knowing where she went, and even Twilight suggesting that she not return to her old village, when Twilight had encouraged Starlight to make friends previously. During another dream she has that night, Starlight discovers the truth as Princess Luna warns her that Queen Chrysalis and the changelings have returned before being captured by them herself, having mentioned they've taken her big sister, Princess Celestia, as well. Waking Trixie and making sure she's not a changeling, the two friends sneak back into the castle, and discover that the Mane Six and Spike have been replaced as well, meaning Chrysalis now has control of both Ponyville and Canterlot. Worse, Thorax arrives with more bad news from the Crystal Empire: Princess Cadance, Shining Armor, and Flurry Heart have been taken and replaced as well, meaning Chrysalis now has control of the Crystal Empire, and has the entire Royal Family and Mane Six as her prisoners.
As everyone laments who could help them now, Discord arrives, and after proving he's not a changeling fake as well, quickly joins the team when he learns that Fluttershy was kidnapped with everyone else, infuriating him. With a snap of his fingers, he transports the group of four to the edge of the Changeling Kingdom, where at the center, sits Chrysalis' hive, where she's holding the Royal Family and Mane Six prisoner. As everyone looks to Starlight for guidance and leadership, Starlight finds herself facing a difficult situation: If she can't lead her group into the hive and save the Mane Six and Royal Family, Equestria is doomed...
With knowing their only option to stop Chrysalis' second attempt to conquer Equestria is to enter Queen Chrysalis' hive and save their friends, Starlight's team faces one final obstacle: Thorax explains that Chrysalis had anticipated that someone would come to save the Mane Six and Royal Family, as her throne is made from a dark stone that renders all non-changeling magic useless, including Discord's chaos magic alongside Starlight and Trixie's unicorn magic.
Left with only their wits and the equipment that they are carrying, Starlight's team enters the hive, using Thorax to lead them through the labyrinth of passageways to find Chrysalis' throne room, knowing that destroying the throne would give the Mane Six and Royal Family the chance to escape on their own once their magic was restored. However, when Thorax gets them lost, Discord alerts the hive to their presence, leading to where Discord draws off several of the guards, but is captured when several changelings impersonate Fluttershy, trying to convince him that one of them could be the real one, and another changeling that takes Discord's place forces Trixie to sacrifice herself to fall into an ambush while Starlight and Thorax split up to reach the throne room. Starlight gets there first, finding the throne, and hanging over it on the ceiling above, the cocoons containing the Mane Six, Spike, the Royal Family, and now Discord and Trixie as well, all trophies of Chrysalis and her Swarm. However, Chrysalis had been hiding among the cocoons, and ambushes Starlight with the rest of the hive, capturing her. However, it is soon revealed that the Starlight that Chrysalis had captured was actually Thorax, having disguised himself perfectly as her to try and draw Chrysalis off so Starlight could destroy the throne, which fails. Desperate, Starlight tries to reason with Chrysalis, using her own past to try and convince Chrysalis from doing the same thing, and then bringing up Thorax and how he was not as hungry as he originally was due to the friendships he made in the Crystal Empire. While Starlight's words draw interest from the changelings, Chrysalis refuses to listen to advice from a "mewling grub", and prepares to drain Thorax of the love energy inside him before punishing him for his treason. However, at Starlight's urging, Thorax does not let Chrysalis take the love energy from him by force, and instead gives it to her willingly, which results in Thorax undergoing a metamorphosis that transforms him into a more vibrant, colorful form.
At Starlight's encouragement, the rest of the changelings follow suit, and the resulting release of love energy destroys Chrysalis' throne and throne room, freeing the Mane Six, Royal Family, Discord, and Trixie from their cocoon prisons, and causes the changelings to assume similar forms to Thorax, ending their never-ending hunger. Chrysalis survives her throne's destruction, but outnumbered by her former followers and her former hostages, all seething mad at her for what she's put them through, she refuses Starlight's offer of redemption, swears revenge on Starlight for taking everything away from her, and escapes into the desert to parts unknown. With Chrysalis gone, Thorax is made the new Changeling King to begin rebuilding relationships between the changelings and ponies with Princess Celestia, and at Starlight's suggestion, the Mane Six, Royal Family, Discord, and Trixie, go with Starlight back to her old village to take part in the Sunset Festival, with Starlight happily accepting a leadership role there thanks to her experience with her recent adventure that helped her fit back into it.
Broadcast and reception
Both parts of "To Where and Back Again" aired back-to-back on the Discovery Family channel as an hour-long event on October 22, 2016. Part 1 of the finale was viewed by 260,000 viewers in the United States while Part 2 was seen by 240,000 viewers in the United States.
Many fans spoke out on the My Little Pony Forums at how impressed they were with the change of pace regarding having Starlight and other former villains like Discord and Trixie team up to save the Mane Cast from the Changelings, but some felt that, without explanation to how Chrysalis managed to pull off kidnapping 11 ponies and a baby dragon in a matter of the short time Starlight was away from Ponyville, it really made the Mane Cast look pathetic with not even fighting back before being kidnapped and imprisoned in cocoons at Chrysalis' hive.
Home media release
The two-part season finale is part of the released Twilight and Starlight DVD, including No Second Prances (Season 6, Episode 6), and the Season 7 premiere episodes Celestial Advice and All Bottled Up. It was released on May 30, 2017.
- Metcalf, Mitch (2016-10-25). "ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Saturday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 10.22.2016". ShowBuzzDaily. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
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