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Season 5, Episodes 21-22
Don’t let the two-week gap between this post and the last one fool you. My reviews of these episodes took only two days to write each. I just took sizable breaks in between to work on other projects.
Season 5 Episode 21: Scare Master
In five words: Fluttershy attempts leaving comfort zone.
Premise: Upon encouragement from her friends, Fluttershy participates in Nightmare Night for once instead of secluding herself at home.
In prior reviews, especially in this season, I’ve gone off endlessly about how wonderful of a character Rarity is. I’ve reminisced on how Twilight Sparkle was easy to connect to from the start and is the main pony who got me hooked on the show, and about how incredibly striking Rainbow Dash’s episodes can be if done right. But now, it’s time to give Fluttershy some love and talk about what makes her special. While there have been plenty of good Fluttershy episodes before, this one consists entirely of Fluttershy at her finest, and I’m excited to pick it apart.
First off, I’d like to talk about the title of this episode. It’s almost the same as Stare Master from season 1, but with one letter changed. I like this title because it suggests that Fluttershy is once again going to prove her worth after a bunch of fumbling and do something cool, making the ending a surprising subversion of expectations.
Now let’s get started with the episode itself!
At the start of this episode, Fluttershy commands her animals to close all her windows and alert her if anything scary happens on Nightmare Night. This scene reminds us right up front that there’s more to her than just being shy. She has a lot of inner bravery that comes out when the time is right, and she can do some awesome things by commanding her loyal crew of animals.
Fluttershy seems fully prepared to stay indoors throughout this night, but she’s forced to go outside because Angel ran out of carrots. I think there’s a good chance Angel is purposely forcing Fluttershy to go outside: maybe because he wants her to expand her comfort zone, or maybe he just wants to troll her.
Either way, if you’re as obsessed with this show as I am, there’s a good chance you tend to feel left out when people around you excitedly talk about media featuring horrific wars and people getting brutally murdered or other such depressing things, and generally prefer media that’s more lighthearted and wholesome. That’s part of what makes this episode so special to me. It’s heavily relatable to adult fans of the show, but in a much less direct way than, say, episodes about the Daring Do books.
While Fluttershy is creeped out at all the spooky decorations in every corner of Ponyville, I am similarly getting traumatic flashbacks to Putting Your Hoof Down, an episode that genuinely hurt my head when trying to analyze. That episode was the last time Fluttershy had to fumble her way through the Ponyville shop to get food for Angel. The big difference is that this time, it makes sense for Fluttershy to feel nervous and scared; it doesn’t require an upheaval of the casual, friendly attitude of Ponyville. For the rest of this review, I’m just going to forget that episode ever happened.
I don’t talk about her as much as other Mane 6 members, but I love Fluttershy a lot. I love the morals that her episodes stand for, her gradual but satisfying character development, and that her episodes don’t have her instantly conquer a fear. Her character takes the so-called “moe” archetype common in anime and spins it on its head, giving her surprising amounts of depth without compromising her cuteness.
Many ponies enjoy spooking each other in creative ways through Nightmare Night; Fluttershy is not one of them. When Granny Smith tells her about the Apple Family’s annual haunted corn maze, she is truly freaked out, and this is a situation some fans may find themselves in even among fellow bronies. MLP:FiM has a LOT of ultra-grimdark and edgy fanworks, and I do not like them at all. While some of them genuinely creep me out, most I just find impossible to take seriously. It makes a lot more sense for fanworks to be as lighthearted as the show itself, but clearly tons of people disagree. Then again, many of those people are the kind who only watched season 1 and then moved on to consuming fan content that is barely even related to the show. I really don’t understand why so many fans of the show are like that, but there are a lot of things I don’t understand about the world. Granny Smith similarly doesn’t understand why Fluttershy is so freaked out.
I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t resist this opportunity to rant about what I find so frustrating about bronies.
I should say, I really like the angle on this shot of Twilight Sparkle’s castle. It makes it look a lot more spooky, helped by the full moon. Plus, the rotation makes the resemblance to a middle finger even harder to unsee. (If this is your first time learning about the middle finger meme, I am so sorry.)
After some humor where Spike struggles to hold his unfinished two-headed costume together, we get an interesting exchange with Fluttershy.
Spike: Hey… wait a minute. It’s Nightmare Night, and you’re here and not holed up in your cottage. Does this mean what I think it means?
Fluttershy: That I foolishly forgot to stock up on food for Angel and had to go out to get him something, but got spooked in town, so I came in here hoping Twilight had some lettuce I could give him?
Spike: Oh. Well, I thought maybe you decided to come out with us tonight.
I can so completely believe this—the rest of her friends all hoping Fluttershy would eventually conquer her fears and join one of their favorite annual traditions. They can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t find Nightmare Night joyous and fun, and they believe Fluttershy has it in her to get over this aversion. They see high hope in their friend, but they don’t get why she doesn’t like this tradition.
Spike encourages Fluttershy to join all the others, and she does so, much to her friends’ excitement. With her speech about giving something she’s afraid of a chance, this scene almost feels like a happy ending to a Fluttershy episode… except we’re only a quarter of the way through. We’re led to believe she’s going to love spending Nightmare Night with her friends, and we’re about to see how well that plays out.
When Fluttershy agrees to give Nightmare Night a try, her friends loudly cheer, leading her to cower in terror. Then she says she was “just practicing” and awkwardly laughs. This already suggests that she’s not going to get the same kick out of the night that all the others do, and that she’s hesitant to admit her inherent distaste for the event.
One of Rarity’s costumes is a vampire bat, which she quickly decides against using. Keep that in mind.
Rarity’s pride in showing off her creative works is something we should all strive for.
Rarity offers Fluttershy a selection of outfits to try, but Fluttershy keeps getting concerned with safety and settles on solely the black dress part of Rarity’s “Masquerade” costume.
Fluttershy: What about being able to see what’s to the left or right of me?
Rarity: I suppose your vision would be somewhat obscured.
Fluttershy: What if I just wore the dress?
Rarity: Oh. Sure, dear. That’s… fine.
Rarity: It’s so plain, it’s frightening.
Fluttershy is simultaneously demonstrating her foresight and foolishness in this scene. She is taking great care to make sure her outfit won’t get her hurt—certainly more than Rarity did, considering the tail of her outfit hits Fluttershy multiple times—but she also completely misses the fun of wearing costumes. Her entering a changing room to try on her dress is also a bit silly because she normally doesn’t wear clothes, but I can think of a good reason why changing rooms would exist in this show. The main purpose those rooms serve for ponies probably isn’t the privacy, but the mirrors.
These are the rest of the Mane 6’s reactions to Fluttershy’s weirdly plain outfit.
Can I just say how sweet it is that Rarity made four Nightmare Night costumes for her friends? To her, I imagine it didn’t feel like a chore or obligation, but a fun little activity that would save them all some trouble. She probably took some input from her friends, but they happily gave her freedom to put on her own flair.
During a game of pin the horn on the pony, Pinkie Pie has the following to say:
Pinkie Pie: I figured I’d save the really scary games for next year when Fluttershy’s more used to it!
This whole episode is a major case of Fluttershy not seeing eye-to-eye with the rest of her friends. They don’t see why anyone wouldn’t enjoy some good old Halloween parties, and they expect Fluttershy to outgrow her aversion soon enough. But if you’re a fan of this show, chances are that you never outgrew some of your childhood tastes—I know I sure haven’t. While Fluttershy was never the most relatable member of the Mane 6 to me, considering Twilight Sparkle’s encyclopedic knowledge or Rainbow Dash’s angry denial when things don’t go her way, she’s very easy to connect to in this episode.
Fluttershy rejects various other Nightmare Night activities, citing the hazards she could face while doing them. She does go on a lot of adventures with her friends where she faces hazards, and when her mood is this tense, she goes into this exact mindset.
Pinkie Pie reveals she made bags of candy for each of her friends, and Fluttershy even rejects that because she worries candy could glue her mouth shut and prevent her from screaming for help. Some might think she’s making up excuses not to have fun, but I think this is a genuine effect of what her brain processes as a tense adventure. She knows that in such situations, her mind accounts for every risk no matter how miniscule, helping her stand up for her friends but preventing her from having a good time.
I love how blunt Rainbow Dash is about Fluttershy sucking out all the fun.
It makes sense for her to be direct with her childhood friend, even if the others keep shushing her.
Twilight Sparkle then has an idea: for Fluttershy to be the one to scare her friends so she can take part in Nightmare Night without being scared. Fluttershy feels confident in this idea… a little too confident.
In her first attempt at scaring her friends, Fluttershy speaks in a ghostly voice from outside as they attend a tea party with such horrific inconveniences as a lack of sugar and the “best friend” to Pinkie Pie’s left not caring to show up. She’s imparting what she finds scary onto all the others, leaving them all very confused. It’s a nice first try, you can say that much.
Who would have guessed Fluttershy liked to draw in a manga style? This art style fits in the show pretty naturally, considering its character designs are already reminiscent of anime. Maybe she draws art like this all the time when no one else is around, and only now did she show it off to others.
As usual, Fluttershy knows when a compliment isn’t sincere, setting her apart from so many other characters—especially egotistical ones like Rainbow Dash or Spike. Her friends have a common habit of thinking she wouldn’t take honest criticism well, but she has an even more glum reaction to insincere compliments.
When the rest of the Mane 6 have left, Angel taps his foot, and at first it seems like he didn’t want Fluttershy to forget about the carrots. But instead, he encourages Fluttershy to try harder at scaring her friends, and that seals the deal that Angel was never hungry for carrots at all. He just wanted Fluttershy to go outside, and he knew she wouldn’t do it unless forced.
Looks like even after Luna worked her way back into Equestrian society, Nightmare Moon is still used as the logo for Nightmare Night.
Fake eyeballs with multicolored pupils look a lot more convincing to these ponies than to real-life humans.
Or to anime characters with similarly unrealistic eye colors.
The Apple family corn maze begins, and at the start, the main cast besides Fluttershy are briefly freaked out at scary-looking things, then laugh them off.
I’ll discuss Derpy’s cameo in the miscellaneous notes.
But then things are cranked up a notch when they see what looks to be actual ghosts and run in fear. Rarity trips on her own dress and remarks that Fluttershy had a point about these outfits, showing that Fluttershy wasn’t just being a wet blanket. She thought ahead about what could happen when she’s genuinely frightened, and now she’s doing too good of a job at scaring her friends.
In typical season 5 fashion, things go off the wall fast. The main cast minus Fluttershy fall into a whole that’s quickly closed, and encounter freaky things like a corpse version of Granny Smith whose skull falls off and a very real-looking monster. Then they get trapped in a spider web which Twilight has to teleport them out of. Applejack downplays her fear at first, but then she admits she didn’t plan any of this. Now this is how you do a good Halloween episode: take the fear factor a step beyond what the show normally does, and let the viewer genuinely believe for a moment these ponies’ lives are in peril.
Wait a second. If these ponies and Spike fell into a hole in the maze, then how did they get all the way up here? Did they walk up a very long slope that seemed almost flat? They really didn’t seem to be in the cave that long, but maybe it had invisible stairs or something? Sure, let’s pretend that makes sense.
Next up is something that fans must have gotten REALLY excited about: the return of Flutterbat, who laughs manically and tears the head off of Spike’s costume. Attentive viewers might remember that Rarity had made a vampire fruit bat costume, which hints that Flutterbat was just a costume. It’s a little odd that Flutterbat is paid homage to in dreams and as costumes but never makes a proper return, but maybe that would just be treading the same ground. Still, unless you paid close attention to the foreshadowing, this disguise is very convincing!
Fluttershy got a proper costume after all!
And one that still meets her safety constraints.
We saw at the start of this episode that Fuzzy Legs makes tough spider webs.
It shouldn’t be a huge surprise that the web was him all along.
When Fluttershy reveals that she was behind this whole show, she feels awful about scaring her friends, but they all praise her and want her to do it every year. She reveals that her animals were behind all the scary events, including the ghosts, the spider web, and the monster that chased them. This is the major moment of awesome that you’d have expected from the episode’s title—Fluttershy putting her skills with animals to the coolest possible use. But she doesn’t feel so great about it.
Fluttershy: We could celebrate Nightmare Night every year, but…
Fluttershy: The truth is, I really don’t want to.
Pinkie Pie: You don’t?
Rarity: But you’ve done it. You found a way that we can all have a fabulous time together.
Fluttershy: Yes, but… I’ve also realized something.
Fluttershy: You all may love Nightmare Night, and I may be good at being a part of it, but it’s no fun to see my friends feel like they’re in danger, even if I know they’re not.
The beauty of this episode is that it never forgets how incredibly wholesome Fluttershy is. This girl would never hurt a fly, and it makes perfect sense that she wouldn’t enjoy Nightmare Night even after giving it an honest shot. It wouldn’t have been anywhere near as interesting if Fluttershy ended up enjoying Nightmare Night after all. If she did, I imagine many fans would be bummed out that she now has one less trait to relate to.
Fluttershy: We do lots of fun things together, but I’m afraid this just isn’t gonna be one of them. Actually, I’m not afraid. I’m perfectly fine with it.
Twilight Sparkle: Then we are, too.
Hopefully, this scene makes viewers who regularly feel left out of activities feel a little better. It certainly does for me. Fluttershy has some excellent character development throughout the show, done in small steps where she gradually gets better at standing up for herself while remaining a total sweetheart.
And so, this episode ends with Fluttershy experiencing Nightmare Night the way she likes it: by reading stories to her animals under her bed. Some might think this is a return to status quo, but she and her friends both learned something valuable from all this: that it’s OK to abstain from activities your friends enjoy.
I have deep respect for this episode and the message it gives. One of my favorite things about this show is that there are so many obvious, predictable plots that it could have easily played straight but instead throws a twist in. And here, the twist is that after giving Nightmare Night an honest try, Fluttershy concludes the event simply isn’t to her taste. I know way too well what it’s like to feel left out of things that everyone else around me seems to enjoy, and this episode did exactly the right thing. It tells viewers that there’s nothing wrong with sitting out something that the rest of your friends like, which is valuable for fans of this show, because let’s face it: most bronies are huge nerds. Every Mane 6 member has a secret trick for how to make an episode of theirs good, and with Fluttershy, it’s to have her do something awesome without forgetting her kind-hearted nature.
This is probably my favorite Fluttershy episode of the entire show.
- I’m obligated to mention a clever thing this episode does about the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Since this episode comes after Crusaders of the Lost Mark in broadcast order, but before it in production order, it’s ambiguous whether they had already earned their cutie marks in this episode. To solve this problem, the only times we see the Crusaders are when they wear costumes that cover their flanks.
- I think there’s some thematic symbolism in Derpy Hooves’ humorously clumsy cosplay as Twilight Sparkle. Twilight and Derpy are the lead characters in the two main sides of the show’s cast: the main characters who go on wild adventures, and the background ponies whose characterization has been shaped by fans.
- How exactly did Fluttershy make the monster costume for Harry the bear? The most innocent explanation I can think of is using her freaky knowledge of sewing; I really can’t imagine she killed a real-life monster and had the bear wear its skin. She simply isn’t that kind of pony.
Next up is one of the weirdest episodes in season 5, involving the guy who Fluttershy keeps on a metaphorical leash.
Season 5 Episode 22: What About Discord?
This review contains spoilers for the season 5 finale, which is only three episodes from now… but they’re spoilers regardless.
In five words: Discord’s jokes drive Twilight crazy.
Premise: After spending a weekend at home organizing her books, Twilight Sparkle returns to the outside world to find her friends sharing laughs with Discord over inside jokes she doesn’t understand. This leads her to have a mental breakdown.
The start of this episode features Twilight Sparkle being classic Twilight Sparkle, with some dialogue that’s worth picking apart.
Spike: (sigh) Didn’t we just finish shelving all the books in the library a few months ago?
Twilight Sparkle: Yes, but that was because we needed to. This is just because I want to. I call it my Booksorcation. Three uninterrupted days of reorganizing books. Can you think of anything more relaxing?
Spike: Well, claw massages, back rubs, bubble baths…
Spike: You weren’t really looking for an answer, were you.
Twilight Sparkle’s excitement about spending three days at home organizing her books may be a remnant of her old antisocial self from back when she lived in Canterlot. Spike’s misunderstanding of her rhetorical question shows that she still has a lot of social obliviousness inside her and expects others’ mind to function exactly like hers. Such unknowingly self-important mindsets tend to be common with protagonists of media, and this episode is going to remind us this aspect of Twilight’s personality never stopped being a thing.
When Twilight Sparkle returns to the outside world, she’s greeted with Discord and Rainbow Dash doing a rehearsed greeting in sync, then sharing a laugh over a “hiss-terical” inside joke. Right away, the problem with this episode is apparent: it doesn’t know what it wants to be about. A dive into Twilight Sparkle’s psyche when cut off from society for three days? A moral on what to do if you don’t understand an inside joke? A prank on Discord’s part where the Mane 6 warm up to him but he also gets some comeuppance? It’s kind of all those things and none of them at the same time.
Discord’s in-jokes consist entirely of cheesy puns, the second of which is “orange you glad you did it”, and I feel like this episode doesn’t understand what in-jokes are. While the idea that Discord’s jokes are all bad puns has precedence from the last episode where we saw him, it’s strange for the rest of the Mane 6 to laugh about them with him. I don’t think I can blame Twilight for being so disconcerted here, since her friends normally have a far better sense of humor than this.
I am not that enthusiastic to review this episode, but I must stick to my promise of going through each one.
One thing this episode has in common with Make New Friends but Keep Discord is a variety of surprising media references, like the Bob Ross painting reference shown above. Even the title is a reference to a 90’s movie called “What About Bob?” which, against all odds, I’ve actually seen. It’s a movie where a guy named Bob drives his psychologist so crazy that he eventually tries to kill Bob, and there are some loose similarities between that movie’s plot and this episode. Unlike the last episode where we saw Discord, the media references aren’t worked into the plot quite as well, though this one as a whole is the less unhinged of season 5’s Discord episodes.
Fluttershy: We would have invited you to come along too, but we didn’t want to interrupt your organizing. We know how important it is to you.
Discord: And I’m sure it was much more important than the fun that we had. (laughs)
Twilight Sparkle and Discord have an interesting dynamic, where she remains the most suspicious of Discord’s antics and is thus his favorite target for mind games. All these scenes with Discord make it seem like for once, this will be an episode where he successfully teaches someone else a friendship lesson—perhaps a lesson where Twilight has to accept that her friends genuinely had fun with Discord—but the twist at the end undermines that. This ties into the recurring problem with this episode: it has a lot of cool ideas but is way too unfocused to fully explore them.
I will admit, Twilight Sparkle’s horn flopping and then bouncing back up like rubber as Discord strokes her mane is hilarious. It feels like a throwback to the early seasons, when cartoon humor was more prominent. As I said before, there are a lot of good individual things about this episode, but when everything is put together it feels like a mess.
Twilight Sparkle: I can’t believe I missed out on all that bonding.
Spike: I knew it. You are jealous!
Twilight Sparkle: Spike, I’m the Princess of Friendship. I don’t get jealous. I’m sorry I missed out because sharing that experience would have helped me with my Princess of Friendship duties.
Spike: Come again?
Twilight Sparkle: If our friends could enjoy three full days with Discord that much, it must have something to do with the specific things they did together!
Twilight Sparkle: If we could find out what those things were, it could be a real breakthrough in the science of friendship!
Even more hilarious are Twilight Sparkle’s mental breakdowns, which I had missed quite a lot. Ever since I was in high school, I have found her freakouts side-splitting, and that hasn’t changed. Once she mentions the science of friendship, that’s how you know she’s denying to everyone why she’s so nervous. The real reason is because she still doesn’t trust Discord, but that wouldn’t make her a good Princess of Friendship, would it?
Twilight Sparkle gathers all the others so she can interrogate them about how the in-jokes came to be. While they don’t agree on all the details, they all agree that it’s hilarious and Twilight “had to be there”. Then something interesting happens:
Look closely on the right, behind the bush.
Twilight Sparkle: I do need to be there.
Rarity: But you weren’t. And it’s already happened. Ooh. Are you suggesting…
Pinkie Pie: Time travel???
Twilight Sparkle: Absolutely not. Time travel is not something to be messed with. We simply need to recreate everything that led to these jokes.
Pinkie Pie provides us a silly little Back to the Future shout-out, complete with a short reference to the movie series’ theme song. The reference gives viewers a distraction to prevent them from noticing something far more plot-relevant: a cameo from Starlight Glimmer that’s even subtler than last time. I can imagine Starlight Glimmer internally going “ooh, juicy” when goody-two-shoes Twilight says time travel should never be messed with. She’s soon to hatch a master plan involving time travel, which will come to full light in the season 5 finale. These cameos show us that Starlight has been doing an almost perfect job covering her tracks while stalking the Mane 6.
Twilight Sparkle: Are you sure it was this table?
Rainbow Dash: Does it really matter?
Twilight Sparkle: When it comes to science, everything matters. One change to the equation could ruin the experiment.
I shouldn’t get sidetracked talking about the season 5 finale when we’re so close to it, but this is yet another line that brings these events to mind. Before you know it, Starlight Glimmer will create tons of dystopian alternate timelines with one change to the equation.
Discord’s outfit is much like the one Bob wears in the movie this episode is named after.
Anyway, let’s be real here. The twist that Twilight Sparkle’s presence is the “change to the equation” is obvious from a mile away, even as Discord helps the others set up circumstances that are otherwise exactly like the day where those in-jokes spawned. I enjoy Discord’s reality-bending shenanigans here, but my mind keeps going back to the obvious twist that’s revealed at the end of this scene.
Back home, Twilight Sparkle comes to the conclusion that Discord has put all her friends under a spell, making for more of her classic flavor of mental breakdowns. I think it makes sense that she’s still hesitant to trust Discord. She’s set off by things that don’t make sense to her, and logical sense is the antithesis to everything Discord stands for. It’s a more extreme and rivalrous counterpart to Twilight Sparkle’s clashing with Pinkie Pie’s free-spirited beliefs and powers.
Zecora admits here that her cauldron is really just a showpiece.
Twilight Sparkle’s behavior is in some ways reminiscent of the psychologist from “What About Bob?” Both are driven up the wall by the title character having fun with everyone around them—the psychologist with his family, Twilight Sparkle with her friends—and insist that everyone else has gone crazy. Though Twilight Sparkle doesn’t try to kill Discord, she does go to Zecora’s place and get a potion that supposedly can free the others from Discord’s spell—assuming the spell is real.
Twilight Sparkle gathers her friends the next morning, and in her typical mental breakdown tone of voice, she gives each of them a cup with Zecora’s potion in it so they can be freed from Discord’s “brainwashing”. There are a lot of little details that show how unstable Twilight has become, like saying she wants “one tiny, miniscule, microscopic thing” before they start, and pouring some of the potion over Spike after the last cup is filled. Some fans may find it insufferable when she’s being this self-absorbed, but I think her selfish side makes her a much more interesting character than if she was perpetually kind and humble.
OK, fine. Since I have so little to say about this episode, I might as well go on another Homestuck tangent that no one asked for. This tension between humility and self-absorption is the very same thing I find interesting about John Egbert, who ordinarily downplays his skills and powers but gets very self-absorbed and even a little solipsistic when he’s throwing a tantrum. He and Twilight Sparkle both tend to have hilarious mental breakdowns, and while I could talk further about parallels between them, I can tell you’re probably rolling your eyes right now, so I’ll move on.
Classic Rarity, quietly pouring out something she doesn’t want to drink.
When she’s having a mental breakdown, Twilight Sparkle sees everyone around her as loyal minions who will do exactly what she says. She could have done something like purport the potion as a strawberry smoothie she and Spike made, but instead she outright tells them to drink it and expects them to go “derp OK I will do what you say”. Pinkie Pie is the only one who drinks the potion, and it does nothing to her, showing Zecora’s knack for trickery like what she did in Magic Duel. Though her role in the story is usually to provide magical artifacts, she’s now twice provided something bogus to help solve a friendship problem. We saw earlier that she doubted Twilight’s friends were under a spell, so I’m guessing she deliberately gave Twilight a dummy potion.
When Discord comes in, Twilight Sparkle lets out all her frustration and finally admits she feels left out from the others’ fun times, leading to a perfectly sound friendship lesson where she realizes it’s OK to feel jealous and not get everyone else’s inside jokes. Sounds like a good ending, right?
Did Discord spawn a chair with his face on it out of thin air?
But then, the friendship lesson is trampled upon when Discord reveals what he did.
Discord: Of course, none of this would have happened if I hadn’t encouraged everypony not to invite you this weekend.
Twilight Sparkle: They wanted me to be there… and you convinced them to not invite me?
Discord: Well, I didn’t think that they should interrupt you. But now I see that I should have.
Discord: Oh, I feel just terrible. (smugly smiles)
This episode was shaping up to be a step forward in Discord’s character development, with him having some genuine fun with the Mane 6 without any trickery, but then THIS had to happen. I get that post-reformation Discord still loves to play japes and teaches friendship lessons through skeevy means. But the trick to making an episode with him is that he should start by being obstinate and difficult and learn a friendship lesson at the end. Why does this episode do it backwards?
Discord’s comeuppance at the end is strange too. He recites all the old in-jokes but no one finds them funny anymore, and then the Mane 6 joke about Twilight’s insane plan to feed them memory-erasing potions, which Discord doesn’t understand. I will say, this scene does a good job showing where inside jokes tend to originate: from bizarre experiences between friends that they won’t soon forget. After Discord shrinks in size to express his disappointment through a pun, the episode ends with everyone laughing together.
I want to like this episode a lot more than I do. Twilight Sparkle’s freakouts crack me up, Discord’s rivalrous antics with her are intriguing, and he almost gets some positive character development in this episode. But when all these pieces are put together, the result feels more like a smattering of ideas than a cohesive episode. Twilight Sparkle and Discord both seem to have forgotten prior lessons and development, and while most of the episode is decent enough, the ending ruins it for me. It’s a last-minute reversal of who’s portrayed as in the right, and Discord getting a taste of his own medicine feels wrong when the medicine was only revealed a minute prior. And putting these criticisms aside, this episode simply doesn’t live up to the wacky, surrealist nature I’ve come to expect from Discord’s episodes.
Even my favorite season of the show will inevitably have a few underwhelming episodes.
- When Twilight Sparkle said that the Princess of Friendship doesn’t get jealous, I had to stop my brain from diverting into thoughts about her blatant caliginous crush, wait I mean hate crush, on Trixie. I’ll save those thoughts for my inevitably monstrous review of No Second Prances.
- Can you guess what character from another work of media has a hilarious hate crush on a character whose name starts with T? If you can, then you know the pain I have felt for the past eight years.
The focal characters of this and the last episode team up in the next one to tackle an ages-old family feud.
See you next time (probably not next week) as I march closer to the end of season 5 with a hefty amount of new characters.
>> Part 57: The Hooffields and McColts + The Mane Attraction