Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 57: The Hooffields and McColts + The Mane Attraction

Introduction

< Part 56 | Part 57 | Part 58 >

Season 5, Episodes 23-24

This is it, guys. I’m at the second last post of season 5, and after I finish this season, I am definitely taking a break. Between this blog post series and a fanfic I am working on, I’ve been grinding out pony-related content left and right. As much as this show means to me, I will need a breather once I reach a stopping point, perhaps to focus on other projects or real-life matters.

Also, you should know in advance my review of The Mane Attraction is one of my longest in season 5. I had way more to say about that episode than I expected!


Season 5 Episode 23: The Hooffields and McColts

In five words: Ancient village rivalry gets resolved.

Premise: The Cutie Map sends Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy to the Smokey Mountains, where they must settle a generations-long conflict between two rivalrous families: the Hooffields and the McColts.

Detailed run-through:

This episode begins with Fluttershy hosting a book club meeting with her animals, which is cut short when her cutie mark starts flashing and she has to leave. Despite this, her animals continue discussing the book on their own. This scene cleverly reminds us of something that will become important later in the episode: animals in this show are highly sentient, but they can’t communicate with most ponies.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 56: Scare Master + What About Discord?

Introduction

< Part 55 | Part 56 | Part 57 >

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.

Detailed run-through:

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.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 46: Make New Friends but Keep Discord + The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone

Introduction

< Part 45 | Part 46 | Part 47 >

Season 5, Episodes 7-8

Make New Friends but Keep Discord is another season 5 review that turned out much longer than I expected! It ended up being my second longest episode review so far, surpassed only by Magical Mystery Cure but surely soon to be beaten by Slice of Life. On the other hand, my review of The Lost Treasure of Grifffonstone is short enough that I felt comfortable having both episodes share a post.


Season 5 Episode 7: Make New Friends but Keep Discord

In five words: Jealousy leads to attempted banishment.

Premise: When Fluttershy invites a new friend of hers named Tree Hugger to the Grand Galloping Gala, Discord gets jealous and brings a dangerous creature of his own.

Ultra-detailed run-through:

This review is going to be another hefty one. Just letting you know.

This episode starts on a very peaceful note, with Fluttershy and Discord in the middle of trading humorous stories while having tea together. While they became friends two seasons ago, this is the first episode since then where their friendship is the primary focus. This opening scene cements that their friendship has settled down, and we get about 20 seconds of cutesy fun times until the episode’s conflict is revealed.

Fluttershy: Oh, I do love our Tuesday teas. And I can’t wait for you to meet my friend Tree Hugger! She’s going to love you too.
Discord: Tree… Hugger? (laughs)

Discord looks shocked for a moment when Fluttershy brings up Tree Hugger, but he laughs it off when his brain chooses to assume it’s a joke. But given what Tree Hugger turns out to be like, Fluttershy has reason to believe she and Discord would get along well. Not everyone enjoys Discord’s wild antics and sense of humor, but Tree Hugger is spectacularly unfazed by freaky shenanigans. Though Fluttershy doesn’t mean any harm to Discord with this new friend, his simplistic understanding of friendship leads to immense jealousy.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 45: Tanks for the Memories + Appleoosa’s Most Wanted

Introduction

< Part 44 | Part 45 | Part 46 >

Season 5, Episodes 5-6


Season 5 Episode 5: Tanks for the Memories

In five words: Rainbow Dash sequentially experiences grief.

Premise: When she learns that her pet turtle Tank will hibernate through the winter, Rainbow Dash tries to stop the season from happening so she won’t have to say goodbye. This matches heavily with the five stages of grief.

Detailed run-through:

Season 5 has tons of fun callbacks to early seasons, showing how far the show has come.

The start of this episode provides a snappy little recap of how the seasons work in Equestria, something we learned in two close-by season 1 episodes. Rainbow Dash notices that Cloudsdale is coming to Ponyville, meaning that winter is soon to start, and she’s super excited about this because it’ll be her first winter with Tank by her side. Season 5 has several episodes that take place a year (or maybe two) after episodes in the early seasons, and this one occurs a year after Fall Weather Friends. Or maybe if you’re willing to shuffle around the order of episodes in seasons 1 and 2 (like Winter Wrap Up and Hearth’s Warming Eve), you could argue it’s two years after? Whatever, mulling over numbers isn’t the point of these reviews.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 43: Castle Sweet Castle

Introduction

< Part 42 | Part 43 | Part 44 >

Season 5, Episode 3

This post was originally going to cover both Castle Sweet Castle and Bloom & Gloom. However, my reviews of both episodes ended up much longer than I thought, so I’ve chosen to split the post in half! Hopefully this will make my episode reviews seem less like neverending walls of words.


Season 5 Episode 3: Castle Sweet Castle

In five words: Twilight adapts to another change.

Premise: Twilight Sparkle doesn’t feel quite at home in her new castle and has been doing strange activities with her friends instead of getting used to the place, so her friends try to make the castle feel more like home.

Detailed run-through:

As with The Cutie Map, the beginning of this episode (which consists of Twilight Sparkle helping Fluttershy wash her animals) is an appropriate time to reflect on when I watched it for the first time.

During the six years between watching season 4 and season 5 of MLP, there was one question about the show that my brain would now and then divert to: how in the world is Twilight Sparkle going to be OK with having to live in an extravagant new castle instead of her quaint little library?! It’s a question that I found myself scratching my head over quite a lot, because her house’s destruction was easily the scene I remembered the most from the season 4 finale. I think I even told myself that such merch-driven changes like Twilight being a princess and her new fancy castle are proof that the show wasn’t that great. Because I was left hanging on this question for so long, when I saw the title of this episode on a list of season 5’s episodes, I internally squeed a little. I just KNEW the show was going to address this question in a satisfying and earnest way that matches what I’ve always enjoyed about Twilight Sparkle’s character.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 42: The Cutie Map, Part 1 + 2

Introduction

< Part 41 | Part 42 | Part 43 >

Season 5, Episodes 1-2

After a two-week break from writing MLP posts (was going to be a month, but I wrote this post midway through June starting when a power outage happened), I’m ready to dive into season 5! Since I wrote this post earlier than I planned to, I decided to release it a week earlier than I originally planned to, which still allows me plenty of leeway with my weekly queue.

I may as well explain how season 5 will be divided into posts. Some posts will cover two episodes each, while others will get posts all to themselves. As of this post’s publication, six episodes are planned to get their own posts: Castle Sweet Castle, Bloom & Gloom, Slice of Life, Amending Fences, Brotherhooves Social, and Crusaders of the Lost Mark. I’ve already written the first two of these, and it’s possible they won’t be the only season 5 episodes to get their own posts. It all depends on how long my reviews get!

I’m really excited to start analyzing season 5, partly because it’s my favorite season, and partly because it’s the first one that I didn’t watch until after the show ended. And as you may have guessed from my plans stated above, season 5 is going to have some EXTREMELY detailed reviews. Like the one you’re about to read, for example. Now let’s jump right in!


Season 5 Episode 1: The Cutie Map, Part 1

This review contains spoilers for the season 5 finale, plus a bit of season 9.

In five words: Ponies discover freakish equality village.

Premise: The new map in Twilight Sparkle’s castle points the Mane 6 to their first friendship mission of its kind: a journey to an unsettling village where everyone is equal, led by a new character named Starlight Glimmer.

Detailed run-through:

The very beginning of season 5 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic—a zoom-in on Twilight Sparkle’s big fancy new castle with some everyday residents of Equestria in the background—serves as a good excuse to discuss what it was like watching this show for the first time in six years. Best to get the self-indulgent stuff out of the way before I analyze all the insanely cool content this episode has to offer.

In the days leading up to the show’s tenth anniversary—October 10, 2020—I had been considering getting back into this show that I had told myself for years wasn’t that great, but deep down had the fondest memories of. I had worried that maybe now that I was six years older, I wouldn’t like it anymore. I thought that perhaps my sense of humor or tastes had evolved to the point of no longer being able to like MLP. Or that I would find the show a garish eyesore, or a bunch of tepid hyper-girly nonsense. Or maybe I thought I’d realize the show had no real merit beyond some silly little memes or the absurd idea of grown men watching a show about cute cartoon ponies.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 39: Testing, Testing 1, 2, 3 + Trade Ya!

Introduction

< Part 38 | Part 39 | Part 40 >

Season 4, Episodes 21-22

Greetings from Spain, uh, again! Current mood: badly hoping I’ll get a negative COVID-19 test so I can fly home on Sunday. Also, here’s the post about learning Spanish I said I might make last time.


Season 4 Episode 21: Testing, Testing 1, 2, 3

In five words: Rainbow Dash has difficulty studying.

Premise: As her next step to get into the Wonderbolts, Rainbow Dash needs to study for a test about the Wonderbolts’ history, and she’s reluctant to do so. Her friends all try to help her find a way to absorb the information, which proves difficult.

Detailed run-through:

Like several prior episodes, this one starts with Twilight Sparkle trying to concentrate on a magic spell only to get interrupted by one of her friends, and this time the interruption is the quickest yet. This comical scene establishes that this episode is going to focus on Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash’s dynamic. I’ve noticed that some combinations of Mane 6 members find themselves paired up in episodes far more often than others, and that seasons 5 and 6 are when the show plays mix-and-match with character pairs through all those friendship map missions. Applejack and Rarity are commonly paired because their contrasting interests play off each other in amusing ways but also make it more satisfying to see them happily cooperate. Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash are another common pair, and it’s easy to see why: they’re both huge nerds, but while Twilight completely owns up to being one, Rainbow Dash tries to disguise it by constantly playing it cool. This leads the two to have all sorts of interesting interactions, as we’ll see here.

Rainbow Dash gloats about how easy it was to catch Twilight by surprise, bragging about how sharply she pays attention to everything around her while flying. Twilight Sparkle was indeed muttering to herself about how Rainbow Dash hasn’t been taking her studying for the Wonderbolt history test seriously, using the fairly exotic word “lackadaisical” in the process. I can tell that Twilight considers Rainbow Dash to be very smart, which is why she’s frustrated that her friend doesn’t want to apply her skills in the right way. And Rainbow Dash likewise considers Twilight Sparkle far smarter than her, at the cost of being a dorky goober who’s easy to fool. The friction between these two comes about because of how much they see in each other.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 36: Twilight Time + It Ain’t Easy Being Breezies

Introduction

< Part 35 | Part 36 | Part 37 >

Season 4, Episodes 15-16

Looking at the lineup of season 4 episodes left for me to analyze, here are the ones that I’m the most excited to go through:

  • Episode 18, Maud Pie (because I think Maud Pie is awesome)
  • Episode 19, For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils (because I think Sweetie Belle is cool)
  • Episodes 25-26, Twilight’s Kingdom (the absolutely epic season finale)

The rest of the remaining season 4 episodes I’m not nearly as excited to go through; I’ll have fun with them for sure, but the really exciting ones are listed above. And then when I get through season 5, I am looking forward to analyzing pretty much every episode of the season. You can expect my season 5 reviews to be some of the most long-winded ones yet.


Season 4 Episode 15: Twilight Time

As with several other episodes involving the Cutie Mark Crusaders, this one contains spoilers for midway through season 5. Also a few for the season 4 finale. Plus a bit of early season 6.

In five words: Crusaders exploit Twilight’s big name.

Premise: The Cutie Mark Crusaders come to Twilight Sparkle to help them learn skills, but they get carried away in using Twilight’s princess status to their advantage.

Detailed run-through:

We haven’t been to Twilight’s place that often in season 4. It sort of feels nostalgic being in here now.
Also, I like how this scene teases the mystery of the chest with six keys.

This episode starts with the Cutie Mark Crusaders at Twilight Sparkle’s place practicing skills they want to learn: Sweetie Belle with magic, Scootaloo with assembling a unicycle, and Apple Bloom with brewing potions. Each of the Crusaders is at least partly hoping to get their cutie mark through these activities, and they’re all reluctant to read detailed instructions. I think there’s something interesting to analyze from each Cutie Mark Crusader’s choice of activity to learn.

For Sweetie Belle, I’m not sure what the common fan consensus is on how long it usually takes unicorns to learn magic, but my view is as follows. Unicorns typically learn magic through tons of practice, and Sweetie Belle never had much reason to use magic while growing up. But now that she’s getting older, she feels that it’s her duty as a unicorn to properly learn magic, and through enough determination, she admirably figures it out by the end of this episode.

But while Sweetie Belle’s motive is to rectify her lack of a fundamental unicorn skill, the other two Crusaders are pursuing activities that relate more to their usual interests. Scootaloo wants to branch out her interest in athletic stunts by assembling vehicles on her own, while Apple Bloom, the one who perpetually flits between various interests, wants to hone in her potion-making interest a little more.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 35: Simple Ways + Filli Vanilli

Introduction

< Part 34 | Part 35 | Part 36 >

Season 4, Episodes 13-14

I had said in an announcement post that I would probably go on a decently long hiatus after finishing my review of Simple Ways. And I did go on a hiatus for nine days (several of which I spent extremely sick), but it was short enough that it didn’t interrupt my post series’ weekly queue.


Season 4 Episode 13: Simple Ways

In five words: Rarity bends herself for love.

Premise: A travel writer named Trenderhoof who Rarity has a crush on visits Ponyville, but when he ends up obsessing over Applejack, Rarity tries to overhaul her personality in response.

Detailed run-through:

This episode starts with a Ponyville town meeting where it is announced who will get to be the master of ceremonies for a festival celebrating the town’s founding, and Rarity wins. This sets up the premise for the episode and gives Rarity a reason to meet her celebrity crush face-to-face.

You know what? I’m going to skip to the part where Rarity reveals her crush on Trenderhoof, a travel writer who she hopes to impress during the Ponyville Days Festival.

I’ve heard that some people criticize this episode for focusing on romance, supposedly because Lauren Faust didn’t want the show to have any, which is total nonsense because Rarity has had crushes since the start of the show. I think the real reason this episode’s focus on romance gets flack is one of two things: (1) Twilight Sparkle’s romance arc with Flash Sentry in Equestria Girls left a sour taste in fans’ mouths, and they doubted the show’s potential to have good romance arcs in the future, or (2) fans don’t want canon material to intervene with their favorite ships. After Prince Blueblood turned out to be a disappointment, it makes sense that Rarity would set her eyes on a new love interest, who she’s revealing at long last. I really don’t see the issue with Rarity having a crush in this episode. It’s not like Trenderhoof was an already existing character; he’s introduced as Rarity’s love interest, and he’s, well… not much more than that. Rarity gives some exciting descriptions of the guy, saying that he’s good at predicting trends and wrote an article about Las Pegasus before the place got popular, but once we see him in person, he doesn’t get much of a personality. But I’ll get to that.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 34: Three’s a Crowd + Pinkie Pride

Introduction

< Part 33 | Part 34 | Part 35 >

Season 4, Episodes 11-12


Season 4 Episode 11: Three’s a Crowd

In five words: Discord’s trickery leads to irony.

Premise: Twilight Sparkle and Cadance plan on spending an ordinary day together without Equestria’s fate in the balance, but Discord gets in the way of their times by purporting to be ill.

Detailed run-through:

This episode starts with Twilight Sparkle getting exciting news: a letter from Cadance confirming that the two will get to spend some quality time together as sisters-in-law this weekend. Then Fluttershy barges in sharing some exciting news: she’s been given a chance to observe these tiny creatures called Breezies, which serves both as leadup to It Ain’t Easy Being Breezies a few episodes later and as a reason for her to be absent from most of this episode, since Fluttershy is normally the one who keeps Discord’s eccentric ways in check. It’s interesting that the Breezies are being teased ahead of time, but it also makes sense since those creatures originated from one of the older MLP cartoons, and some fans would no doubt be excited to see them return. And finally, Pinkie Pie barges in sharing some exciting news: she got a flyer for a sale for used, broken patio furniture. This is nothing more than her being comically zany, breaking up the pace a little before this episode’s plot begins.

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