Sunday, January 20, 2013

Picking Apart "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", Season 3 Episode 10


This is it, guys.  We're down to the last four episodes of Season 3.  It's been real, but it's time to wrap this up.  And to kick off this final four, we start with a long-awaited episode featuring the return of the most popular villain of the series.

Discord.

Now we knew this was coming for a long time, but I'll bet no one was expecting exactly how he would return.  Well, let's find out.

Keep Calm and Flutter On
Apparently, Princess Celestia has charged the Mane 6 with the duty of reforming Discord, believing that his genie-like magic could come in handy if it is used for good, despite knowing what had happened the last time Discord wreaked havoc on Ponyville.
However, Princess Celestia raises the stakes by asking dear Fluttershy to be the one capable of befriending him.
Now we all know there's a good reason for that and as a start, it's because we all know she's not as tight-lipped as the others.

So the Mane 6 use the Elements of Harmony, now protected by Celestia, to unfreeze Discord, who claims to have overheard the entire conversation and pretends to give being good a try, but unbeknownst to the ponies, he mind-controls a group of beavers to block a group of rivers and flood Sweet Apple Acres, which would have happened earlier if a stubborn beaver from before didn't remove a dam.
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That one scene really had Fluttershy acting like a pain in the ass to be honest because she let the beaver take advantage of Applejack.

So anyways, Fluttershy invites Discord to her house as her guest of honor and he starts giving Angel his just desserts.
I'm honestly not gonna lose sleep over that, mainly because we all know Angel just acts like a jerk and takes full advantage of Fluttershy never once having a stiff upper lip with him.  Bad to the bunny.
While Fluttershy keeps Discord company, Twilight decides to look up a reforming spell as a Plan B on the off chance that Fluttershy will fail.
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But it turns out, Discord's one step ahead of the Mane 6 as he was last time, having eaten all the pages that mentioned the spells from the books as his favorite arugula dish.  The only thing he can't really stomach are the Elements of Harmony due to Celestia's protective spell.

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Well, Fluttershy continues to showcase her personality as the Element of Kindness and decides to invite her friends over to dinner with Discord still hanging around.
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Pardon me for the unintended pun because he turns Fluttershy's cottage topsy-turvy at one point.  Geez, haven't the animators gone bonkers from keeping up with the work of making Discord mischievous all the time?
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The rest of the Mane 6 are of course reluctant to Fluttershy's dinner offertory and thinking twice about this would-be trap.

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During dinner, Discord not only tempts Fluttershy due to her friends thinking ill of him but also expectantly sets off a string of pranks by bringing inanimate objects to life and making puns on the ponies' choices of words.
So Twilight and the others try to convince Fluttershy that their mission isn't going to work, but Fluttershy surprisingly faces them defiantly, hell even scolding them for not giving Discord a second chance, and says the one line that changes everything.
Fluttershy: Because that's what friends do.
Discord: We're friends?
Fluttershy: Why, of course! I can't remember my house being this lively before you came along.
Discord: Oh. Well, I've... never really had a friend before.
Fluttershy: Well now you do!



Wow.  This is truly Fluttershy's moment to shine in the entire series.  Not only is she breaking away from her normally vulnerable personality for real, but she's willing to stand up to her friends for her friends.  Well, I can't say I haven't heard this sort of thing before.  Although I have to wonder about this whole thing because if memory serves me correctly, she and the others gave up on Twilight in that petty-excuse-for-a-Season-2-finale, contrary to her not giving up on Discord.  However, it does lead me to hold the phone and discuss reformation with other fictional baddies.


First, I'll start with Ogremon from the Japanese anime Digimon Adventure.  He used to be a servant of the evil Devimon, but then he was founded badly injured by Mimi and her partner Palmon.  They decided to give him treatment for his wounds and Ogremon is touched that his former enemies would be willing to befriend him so easily.  So goes the old saying "forgive and forget", I guess.
Similarly to Discord, Ogremon admitted to not having any friends and after he fully recovered, he reformed on his own.  But none of the protagonists had to go through being stubborn or anything.  They just accepted him just like that.  Even Ogremon himself pointed that out.  Pretty impressive, I must say.


Now let's bring up another big-time villain, Ransik, the half-mutant main antagonist of Power Rangers Time Force.  Ransik originally despised the human race due to a scarring back story, but after a vicious attack on the Power Rangers, his daughter Nadira is accidentally injured in the process, leading him to realize that his revenge almost cost him the one daughter he held dear to his heart.
A year later after he turns himself in, he is recruited by the Rangers to help extract mutant DNA from some Orgs he met up with some time ago.  He succeeds and his own mutant half is purged from his body and he becomes fully redeemed and a friend of the Rangers.  Ransik had fully admitted his mistakes right from his heart and like with Ogremon, none of the main protagonists had to go the extra mile to befriend him.  He came clean.  It all happened in the crossover episodes of Power Rangers Wild Force, which personally holds the record in my opinion as the best crossover episodes of the entire franchise for having the most wonderful ending.

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Okay, enough's enough.  Back to the episode.  Angel interrupts dinner and through gesturing, the Mane 6 realize that a large portion of Sweet Apple Acres is all but underwater.
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Remember those beavers that Discord enchanted from before?  Add it up with the scene of Applejack's row with the beaver earlier and it's something we knew was coming.  Man, once again, the staff fails to surprise us.
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Well, as it turns out Discord is taking full advantage of Fluttershy's kindness like many other characters in the series have done before and he decides to take a gamble on how far he can go without crossing the line.
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See, he makes Fluttershy swear not to use her Element of Kindness against him, to which she agrees, but then he just freezes the water over and continues to delight in his own chaos he's created.
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Well, at this point, he's really treading on thin ice (again, pardon me for the pun) and brags that he played Fluttershy for a fool this entire time to secretly take over Ponyville once more using his so-called friendship with her.
As a result, something inside Fluttershy snaps so she decides that enough is enough and by using her now classic assertiveness, she promptly ends her friendship with Discord on the spot.
Now Discord is unfazed at first, but then remembers that Fluttershy touched his heart and that if he doesn't knock it off, he'll lose the one friend he ever made.  Kinda makes you wonder if he's just one of those comical villains who's only naughty because he's never had any friends.
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So he congratulates Fluttershy for beating him at his own game and restores Sweet Apple Acres back to its former glory.

Discord: I liked it better my way, but... I guess when you're friends, you can't always have things exactly your way all the time, eh?


Yep.  Can't win them all.


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Celestia arrives and Discord swears his servitude to her like a gentleman, but for further precautions, she leaves the protected Elements of Harmony with the Mane 6 just in case he goes wrong again.
See, Celestia knew that only Fluttershy was capable of reforming Discord by getting him to see that despite his heinous ways, friendship was more important to him than he realized and above all, he didn't wanna lose it.  But do you get what I'm saying?
She knew only Fluttershy could do it.  She knew the others, even her faithful student, wouldn't even bother to give him so much as a sideways glance!  In short, that's just like saying she didn't trust them, including Twilight for a second time, to do the job that needed to be done.  I told you she's a witch.
And now this ex-villain, with some coaxing from Fluttershy, mutters the three words which I seriously think the series has defied more than it really should have.

Discord: Friendship is magic.


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Well, I would too.  So leave it to beaver... I mean, Fluttershy... to find Discord's soft spot and turn him into a good guy.  It's almost like a classic story of a little girl who manages to befriend a big, hulking guy.  And this is kind of like your average Beauty and the Beast.

And that's the end of the episode.  And this time, the talented John de Lancie is credited as the voice of Discord.  Now, this episode itself was okay, but based on the way these kids' shows continue to run, I can't say I wasn't surprised that Discord would learn to behave himself.  So I guess it's safe to assume that possibly a lot of you who saw the episode saw this coming.

Okay, it's been ten episodes.  Only three more to go.  And I remember distinctively that I wanted this series to improve drastically because of the shitty Season 2 finale, the only reason being that it would be a waste of superior animation.  After all, I'm like a fan of 2D animation, especially anime style, and this show came pretty damn close to an American anime, probably as close as Avatar: The Last Airbender.  So at this point, all I can do is hold my head high and continue to trudge down the long road that is the rest of this winding series, however drained it may be leaving me.  The episode "Sleepless in Ponyville" did a miraculous job of trying to make a comeback, make no mistake, but try making up for something when you're friends with a group and then after who knows how many years they dump you instead of checking with you first.  Seriously, it's not gonna work that easily, so thank God for fan fiction at least.  That's why I'm clinging by a thread to whatever hope I have left for this series to change its ways and make proper amends for what has transpired.  Yeah, Hasbro.  Good luck with that.

5 comments:

  1. The big problem with this episode for me (and some others who watched it at the same time as me and commented, during a livestream) is that there seemed to be too much crammed into too little time. The ending was pretty abrupt and a bit rushed.

    And Discord still admits that he's not going to be a complete goody two-shoes. If he comes back in the future, it'll probably be in Q-like episodes or something to try and teach the mane six a lesson, because he is in fact very intelligent despite his demeanor and has probably seen and learned much. It's interesting that Celestia wants him free because of his power, so there definitely is something planned down the line.

    And just where would he be going at the end, anyway? "Reformed" or not, I doubt he'd be welcome anywhere for quite some time. Regardless, he probably won't be in Ponyville in the next three episodes.

    There's still been nothing on Celestia and Luna's origins yet, despite (I think) it being said that there would be this season. I think that's probably being saved for the season finale, but hopw they'll cram it in there is anyone's guess.

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    1. My word, you're always quick to comment. Hm, yes, some of these Season 3 episode do seem to have their endings rushed now that I look back on them.

      So, you think there's another reason Celestia "hires" Discord besides having a use for his magic?

      Hm? Where did you hear that? I heard nothing about Celestia and Luna's origins set to be revealed for Season 3. All I do know is that the season has "broken away" from the two things meant to be in it - more about Twilight and her advanced studies AND a "plethora" of musical numbers. There have been in fact very few songs in this season so far (I'd say four if my math is correct, five if you count a reprise). And with this plot and title revealed for Episode 13, some bronies are heaving a collective sigh of relief while some are still being uptight over Alicorn Twilight.

      You know, methinks a lot was crammed into these Season 3 episodes because there's only 13. And I suppose "Magic Duel" getting bumped from Season 2 didn't help. But if there really was a Season 4, would the staff really go to so much trouble trying to fit 26 episodes worth of stuff into Season 3?

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    2. I think Celestia probably (at first) tried to make friends with Discord but she obviously failed. So there's more behind it than just wanting his power.

      And there hasn't been that many songs, no. It's more noticeable with the season being cut in half. The best one out of the bunch is probably "Babs Seed".

      It's obvious that the "final test" before going on to the next level is going to be Twilight's resolving (and creating) of the problem in the finale. What's bugging me a bit is that I don't think the "next level" automatically means turning into an alicorn, because then where are all the other alicorns? Twilight admits in Magic Duel that she's not a highest-level unicorn (yet), so maybe any transformation will be temporary if there's any at all.

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    3. And according to her story with Discord, his "pranks" only threatened to create eternal chaos, hence her and Luna defeating him the first time.

      Personally, I found "Raise This Barn" a close second as best song in the series. My first is the "Smile Song". But hey, that's just me and my personal tastes. You may like the "Babs Seed" song, but I really hated the episode without even seeing all of it.

      According to Celestia, Twilight should already be at the next level of her studies having passed her test during the first Crystal Empire saga. You know, I honestly think filly Twilight spiraling out of control during her entrance exam came kind of close to being the highest-level, or least at her age. But no unicorn could do what she did, not even with a Sonic Rainboom trigger. And Cadance mentioned that she's not ordinary, even before this all happened. However, the only material we have that makes her transformation into an alicorn plausible is "Princess Coronation" and "will finally achieve her destiny"... unless this is something entirely different. Apparently hopeful bronies are thinking the Princess Coronation will refer to Cadance for some crazy reason when she was already a princess to begin with, even as Twilight's foal sitter.

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  2. I think the reason it was Fluttershy is that he was not able to turn her around like he did others at the maze.

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