Episode Analysed: Ticket Master (ep 3)
Episode Summary: Twilight Sparkle gets two tickets to the Grand Galloping Gala but has five friends… and ALL of them want the extra ticket.
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” -James 4:1-3
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” -Ephesians 4:1-3
This episode starts out with Twilight, the teacher/leader of the main six, out helping Applejack get some work done on the farm. Ordinary day, nothing special, until Spike gets a message from Princess Celestia saying that Twilight, plus one guest, is invited to the Grand Galloping Gala. A moment after he’s finished reading the invitation–Bam!–out come two tickets (bright, shiny, GOLD tickets).
This is obviously very important, because both fillies freak (happily). Of course, Twilight’s never been to the Gala, so she asks Applejack if SHE knows what it’s like. Applejack then tells Twilight how it’s the best thing ever and that if she could ever go there and sell some of her farm products she would be able to make enough money to fix just about everything on her farm that’s broken.
Let me slow that down and take it apart. Basically, what Applejack tells Twilight here is that going to this Gala would make everything right in her life. Note the HER life part. Also the EVERYTHING part. Those are important items for understanding this situation as they point to two things: one, self centered motives (even if the money would benefit her family, it’s still HER family) and two, idolatrous expectations (meaning she is thinking of this Gala like it’s her god). The her part is okay at this point (Applejack IS supposed to look after her family) but the expectations are not. I’ll get into THAT later though. Back to the show.
Twilight sees immediately how much Applejack wants to go and so, being a friend and having no reason not to (Spike exempts himself from attending the Gala), Twilight starts to offer her friend the spare ticket. This is when Rainbow Dash crashes down between them and insists that she has to have the ticket for herself. She has her own reason for needing the ticket, something about how going to the Gala will allow her to fulfill her lifelong dream of flying with the Wonderbolts. It sounds more selfish than Applejack’s dream (okay, it IS more selfish than Applejack’s dream) but when its taken apart it comes down to the same thing: going to the Gala will make everything right in her life.
Faced with two beloved friends who both have a passionate desire for the spare ticket, Twilight no longer has an easy decision in front of her. She tells both of her friends that she will need to think on who to give the ticket to over lunch and leaves them so she can ponder in peace.
As soon as she is gone Applejack and Rainbow Dash end up like this:
This moment falls pretty clearly into the “quarrels and fights” of James 4. Both Rainbow Dash and Applejack are filled with warring passions. Each wants the ticket, neither can have the ticket, and so they fight!
That’s pretty much how the rest of the episode goes. As each of Twilight’s friends finds out about the ticket they give her their own explanation about how going to the Gala will fulfill their own self-centered desires and then ask for the spare ticket for themselves. When all of Twilight’s friends have given their reasons the situation degenerates to this:
As you can see in the photo, the atmosphere between the ponies as they argue over the ticket is pretty hostile. Going to James 4 again, they “desire and do not have” so they murder. While murder might seem pretty excessive for describing this situation, according to Jesus that is exactly what people are doing in their HEARTS when they get angry like this. That means that, while this behavior may be something we tend to overlook because nobody actually ends up dead, it is in fact an indication of something deeply wrong in our character.
The something wrong becomes more clear in a moment. Moving the story forward, shortly after trying to disappear in a ball of despair Twilight screams at her friends that NOPONY is getting the ticket until she has had time to think things through. She then goes off by herself to look for some lunch and some peace.
Cue the really bad behavior from her friends.
After Twilight tells them that she won’t give anyone the ticket until she has had time to think, her friends start trying to butter her up by pretending to do really kind things ‘just because I love you’. As an example, the above picture shows a rain storm that Twilight Sparkle would have been caught in, except that Rainbow Dash has ‘kindly’ punched a hole in the clouds so that no rain falls on Twilight. Please note the drenched ponies running by in the foreground. Rainbow Dash insists that this is something she would do for any pony, even when it obviously isn’t.
The other ponies’ approaches are similarly hypocritical (except for Pinky Pie, who comes right out and sings that all she is hoping is that Twilight will give her the ticket) and similarly murderous.
Yes, murderous (in the heart sense). What Twilight’s friends are doing with their behavior is reducing Twilight from a friend and an equal to be loved and respected to an OBJECT to be manipulated, lied to and USED.
And it MURDERS her (in the heart sense). As soon as she discovers that ALL of her friends are willing to manipulate her in order to get the ticket from her (okay, she also finds out that everyone in Ponyville is willing to do the same), it reduces her to cowering on the floor.
It says a lot about Twilight that her greatest concern is still pleasing her friends and her deepest anguish is the fact that she can’t please any of them because she can’t possibly pick between them. At one point she even considers giving up her own ticket so that she can send TWO of her friends to the Gala, but she dismisses that option because it still leaves THREE unhappy friends. Thus in this episode she stands (or cowers) as a positive example of Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
It’s also says a lot that when the others see Twilight’s open, selfless care for them they all back down and give up their request for the ticket (except for Rainbow Dash, who continues in selfish-jerk mode until she gets a death glare from everyone but Twilight). Twilight’s friends apologize for their abuses and their fellowship is restored.
As soon as she is back on her hooves Twilight goes Ephesians 4 with an extra helping of “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Seeing that the ticket has only caused pain and jealousy among her friends, she chooses to give up not only the spare ticket, but her own ticket as well, so that there will be no more cause for fighting. She has Spike write a letter to Princess Celestia explaining that if all her friends can’t go, then she doesn’t want to go either. Then she has him roll up the tickets in the letter and send the whole package back where it came from.
Princess Celestia’s immediate response is to send SIX tickets right back and say, “My faithful student Twilight, why didn’t you just say so in the first place?” Basically, she comes back with James’ “You do not have, because you do not ask” and then gives Twilight exactly what she wanted.
Context is key in applying this, though. Many Christians forget that right after James says “You do not have, because you do not ask”, he adds, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” Asking in order to spend on one’s passions is basically what all of Twilight’s friends were doing throughout the episode. All they wanted was what they passionately thought was best for themselves.
Twilight, however, wanted what was best for all, even if it cost her what was good for herself. In the end, her only reason for desiring more tickets was so she could bless others with them…
…and Princess Celestia knew that about her.
The end result of the episode is that ALL the ponies got tickets (even Spike, although he’s no pony). However, far more important than that is the fact that they only got the tickets AFTER they had learned and accepted that their friendship, their unity, was FAR more valuable than the tickets. That’s the lesson of both James 4:1-3 and Ephesians 4:1-3. Ephesians shows the positive side, the call to put the unity of the Body of Christ ahead of personal desires (remember that to love is to lay down one’s life), while James points out one of the biggest causes of disunity, that people, in service to their own selfish passions, are willing to hurt those they are called to love.
It’s important to remember that in real life the ticket can be anything from money to a car to success at work… basically anything other than Jesus that we are convinced will make everything right in our life. It may be something that looks good, it may even be something that IS good, but as soon as we believe it has a power to fulfill our hearts that is in fact ONLY possessed by God Himself, we will be tempted to harm anyone we think is standing in our way to getting that thing, just like Twilight’s friends.
The solution? Giving up the ticket is an obvious one, but it often isn’t a practical one. A lot of things can becomes tickets to us that are not only good but necessary, things which can’t be given up completely.
A better solution is the one Twilight chose: stay focused on loving people. Even through the worst behavior of her friends Twilight never lost track of her mission, the whole reason Princess Celestia had put her in Ponyville: Love people. Keeping her focus on that mission, Twilight managed to bring her friends back together even when they weren’t behaving at all like her friends. And she did it just by being honest with them.
So take a risk on loving people, Christian, and know that, far far FAR more than Princess Celestia was there to provide for Twilight, JESUS, the Creator of the Universe, is there to provide for you.