Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Picking Apart "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", Season 2 Episode 19

Putting Your Hoof Down
Now that I've winded down from the last episode, what with Pinkie Pie being a walking archive and the harbinger of smiles, it's time to take a different approach.  Back with Fluttershy, we learn in this episode just how nasty her pet bunny Angel can be.
The thing is, not only is he a very picky eater, but he takes full advantage of Fluttershy being a pushover, practically all but forcing her to do his bidding.
Turns out Rarity and Pinkie Pie aren't too thrilled that practically everyone in Ponyville is taking advantage of her and they start teaching her how to be what they call assertive.
Rarity demonstrates with her feminine charm and Pinkie demonstrates by haggling and trickery.
Fluttershy still doesn't get it though and because she fails to make Angel's meal exactly the way he wants, she gets thrown out of the house.  Now here's a question.  Why couldn't Fluttershy just use her patented stare technique on Angel?  We've seen her use it to make every animal she looks after bend to her will.  That's assertive enough for her, so why couldn't she just do that?  Once again, the continuity of this series fails to triumph because the stare doesn't come till the end of the episode, after things resolve.  This is barbaric.  This is crap.
Fluttershy then gets a hold of a brochure that advertises an assertiveness seminar run by a minotaur named Iron Will.  And here comes after modified phrase from Gone with the Wind.

Fluttershy: As Celestia is my witness, I'm never gonna be a pushover again!

She attends the seminar and Iron Will makes a snazzy introduction complete with a remix of the opening instrumental of the song "Eye of the Tiger", originally performed by Survivor.
You know, it strikes me that several of these denizens are attending when they don't even act like pushovers.  I mean, the audience chucked Fluttershy to the back row.  So the real reason I just can't warm up to this series, despite liking some characters and songs, is because a lot of things just don't make any sense, despite intentions for building up plot and drama.  There's always more than one way to do things and personally, I think this series really only comes up with one solution to any situation with the creators not even trying to branch out.  Now then, back to the episode.

Iron Will: Welcome, friends! My name is Iron Will, and today is the first day of your new life!

Who the hell does this guy's voice?  Apparently it's Trevor Devall who had previously voiced Hoity Toity, Prince Blueblood, and Fancy Pants.  Gotta hand it to voice actors, I tell ya.

Iron Will: But I pity the fool who doubts Iron Will's methods.

Wait, what?  Now he's Mr. T?  Remind me again why this show was intended for kids, particularly young girls.  I swear, Hasbro made this episode for bronies.  Why does the original demographic seem to keep slipping through the crew's fingers?  Oh, and here's one more thing about Iron Will.  Every one of his tips is spoken in rhyme, or almost all of them.

Iron Will: “Don't be shy, look 'em in the eye.” 

Iron Will: “When somepony tries to block, show them that you rock!”

Iron Will: “Never apologize, when you can criticize.”

So Fluttershy tries out her new behavior using the techniques from Iron Will's training.

Fluttershy: “Treat me like a pushover, and you'll get the once over.”

Fluttershy: “When somepony tries to block, show them that you rock!”
By the time she gets to the Sugarcube Corner, we start to see signs that perhaps Iron Will's tactics are working a little too well.  Observe.
Fluttershy: What do you think you're doing?! Didn't you see me?
Shoeshine: Uh, I guess maybe.
Fluttershy: 'Maybe'? “Maybes are for babies!” Now go to the back of the line where you belong!
This proves to be so effective that the rest of the line is intimidated as well and backs behind her.

Fluttershy: And new Fluttershy feels pretty stoked about new Fluttershy.

Third person.  I smell trouble.

Fluttershy: “You laugh at me, I wrath at you!”

She just used her technique on Pinkie.  And now look.  Some of the denizens fear her now.

Fluttershy: Oh no you don't. “Cut in line, I'll take what's mine!”
Royal Riff: Aieeeeee! Ow...
Fluttershy: Nopony pushes new Fluttershy around! Nopony!
Uh-oh...  Add on that she's not even being controlled by Discord.  That's saying something.

So Rarity and Pinkie Pie come around to see how things are going, only to witness her mistreating a tourist who wasn't treating her like a pushover at all.  They conclude that her so-called assertiveness training has been kicked up a notch, turning her into a downright bully.  But Fluttershy seems to have been enveloped in her dark side so much, that she turns on them for trying to reason with her.  Here is what she ultimately says.

Fluttershy: I can't believe that the two most frivolous ponies in Ponyville are trying to tell new Fluttershy how to live her life when they are throwing their own lives away on pointless pursuits that nopony else gives a flying feather about! 

Nasty, isn't it?

This turns out to be the final breaking straw, as Fluttershy succeeds in sending both Pinkie and Rarity running off in tears.  Only then does she realize the beast she's become.

By the time Rarity and Pinkie come around again, we see that Fluttershy has locked herself in her own home, all the woodland creatures having deserted the now desolate area, and has had Angel tie her up to a chair so she won't be a threat anymore.
To make matters worse, Iron Will arrives to collect his payment.  Pinkie and Rarity try to stall him, but to no avail.  So when Fluttershy shows up, she refuses to pay because his training did not satisfy her.  This being a first for Iron Will, he tries to reason with her, but she simply says this.

Fluttershy: I'm sorry, but no means no.

And just like that, he leaves.  Nothing else had to be said.  So Fluttershy makes up with Rarity and Pinkie Pie and writes her first letter to Princess Celestia, stating that there's a fine line between just standing up for one's self and changing completely.  And then she uses the stare on Angel when he still doesn't fully comply.

All in all, it is because of the series being devoid of much of its continuity that this episode even exists.  If Fluttershy had remembered the stare, none of this would have had to happen and none of her inner darkness would have had to break out.  Well since last episode was miles better, I'm gonna end this critique on something a little more positive...
[Pinkie Pie]
'Cause I love to make you smile, smile, smile
Yes I do
It fills my heart with sunshine all the while
Yes it does
'Cause all I really need's a smile, smile, smile
From these happy friends of mine

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