MLP - Keep calm and flutter on - Review

Once again, this review will contain spoilers. Those of you who haven't watched the episode yet, you have been warned.

So the episode begins with Twilight, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Pinkie Pie and Spike waiting for the arrival of Princess Celestia, who is supposed to be turning up with an "Important visitor". After waiting, they find that, as the princess arrives, the visitor in question is the still-imprisoned form of Discord, an enemy they defeated in the previous season. Twilight is visibly upset by this, but Celestia assures them that his powers can be used for good if he is reformed. When she says that the six ponies will be responsible for this, Twilight accepts.

The elements of harmony are brought in, with Celestia having apparently cast a spell to prevent their being hidden like last time. Celestia comments that Fluttershy is the best hope for Discord's reform and it turns out that she is currently with Applejack to help resolve and issue with a beaver (don't ask). The two are eventually brought to the others and Celestia tells Fluttershy that she is the most likely one to be able to help Discord. As Celestia departs for Canterlot, the six ponies don their respective elements and use them to free Discord from his stone imprisonment.

Once free, Discord wastes no time in making things hectic again by way of transforming a few nearby animals. The group threatens to turn him back to stone unless he stops his chaotic actions, especially Fluttershy who adds the additional threat of her "stare". This particular threat has no bearing on the demon but the threat of future imprisonment convinces him to turn the animals back, although he secretly does something to a group of nearby beavers. After this, Discord claims he'll be staying with Fluttershy during the "reforming".

Fluttershy makes her home as comfortable for Discord, despite the comments by her friends that he's just trying to trick her to divide them. Discord' attitude during this is not encouraging, but Fluttershy tells her friends that she's confident that she can do this, believing that being kind to him is the best course of action. Twilight accepts her decision and leaves. The others decide that they need a backup plan in place in case Discords reform doesn't work, which Twilight claims she has. Fluttershy leaves her home temporarily with Discord still there, which leads to him tormenting her pet rabbit once she's gone.

Back with the others, Twilight tries to find a "reforming spell" in her books to use against Discord if necessary, but to her horror finds that the necessary pages have been torn out, undoubtedly by Discord. Meanwhile, Discord is making Fluttershy's home increasingly chaotic while the latter makes no effort to stop him. Her tolerance stops however when he starts commenting on her friends. Discord talks of her being able to change him, but it's clear he's not getting any better. Twilight calls Fluttershy out and talks to her about how Discord is just as bad as before, despite Fluttershy's claims that he's getting better.

To prove that Discord's improving, Fluttershy invited all of her friends around for dinner to show them. They go, albeit reluctantly, and at first things seem to be going well despite Discord's usual chaotic way of doing things. However, things take a turn for the worst when the dinnerware starts attacking people, leading to Rainbow accusing Discord of "playing innocent" to Fluttershy so she won't use her element against him. Fluttershy defends him from them and when asked why she's sticking up for him, she responds that it's what friends do, leading to Discord becoming uncharacteristically touched by that comment.

Fluttershy's pet rabbit comes in and warns them that Applejack's family farm has been flooded, leading to further accusations against Discord. The beavers have dammed the place and despite Fluttershy's efforts, they won't stop. Fluttershy acknowledges that Discord's behind it, but that she thinks that continuing to befriend him is the best option. When Discord arrives, Fluttershy asks him to fix this mess, and he say's he will but only on the condition that she never uses her element against him. While the others encourage her not to do it, she agrees to the offer and removes her element. Discord then uses his power to "fix" the floods by freezing them.

Fluttershy is outraged by this and tries to get him to make things normal, but he's not listening. The others try and convince her to use her element against him, but Fluttershy sticks to her promise not to do so. At first, Discord is thrilled by this because it means that he's free forever and can do whatever he likes. But after he makes some comment mocking Fluttershy's attempt top befriend him, and seeing how angry she became over it, he realises that he's just betrayed the one person who has ever treated him well. With this knowledge, Discord uses his power to keep his promise and turn everything back to the way it was.

Celestia returns to Ponyville and Discord announces that he's ready to use his powers for good. Although Celestia acknowledges that she sense that he's changed, she tells Twilight that it's better for them to keep the elements anyway just in case. Twilight remarks that Fluttershy was right to do what she did and Discord agrees with the importance of having friends, ending the episode.

So then, how did the long-anticipated return of Discord fare?

Well, let me start by saying that when I first heard what this episode was going to involve and who it was going to involve, I had some incredibly mixed feelings. On the one hand, given this season's tendency to make episodes out of things the fans have been wanting to see, not to mention it's previous precedent for returning antagonists, it was to be expected that a character like Discord might come back one day, and I was ready for that. And I fully acknowledge that a returning villain episode could be very good if put in the right hands. And the hands they chose for this episode were questionable.

The guy writing this one was Dave Polsky, a writer who's two previous works, "Too many Pinkie Pies" and "Spike at your service", are both episodes that I've felt were fairly weak compared to some of the other stories this show has done this season. However, I know the guy has potential as a writer as those episodes, despite being underwhelming, have had elements to them that I've enjoyed. And honestly I'm surprised they an episode featuring such an important returning character would be handed over to such a relatively new addition to the writing team, so that alone must mean that they believed he could.

On the other hand however, the basic story, that of Discord reforming, was one I was not looking forward to. And it's not because I don't like the concept or that I felt they couldn't handle it well, but actually a far more personal reason. I've made it no secret in the past that Discord's character got on my nerves in a big way when I first saw him. He split the main six apart, nearly ruined their friendship and arguably brought them down to their lowest point in the series. So bad were his actions that I just came out and said then and there that he was the first character of this show that I truly hated, a sentiment that I've continued to bear long after the original episode aired.

And that's why I was not looking forward to this episode. Reforming a character from bad to good is all well and good, and in other characters I'd welcome it. But this was Discord we're talking about. And if I'm being perfectly honest here, I didn't want him to reform. Now I know that many fans have said the same thing, but I think my reasons for not wanting him reformed were different. I didn't want him going good because, deep down, I didn't want to forgive him for the things he'd done, and I didn't want the characters forgiving him either. I wanted to keep hating him, because I felt he deserved it. The things he'd done to them were as bad as things get in this MLP world and as such I felt that he deserved no chance at redemption for it

I know that makes me sound like a terrible person, that I can't consider the possibility that a person can change for the better. And in many cases I'd like to think that they can. But there's a line for me, and in the context of things people can do in this show specifically, Discord crossed that line. In fact, Twilight's reaction at seeing him for the first time in this episode, her angry burst at Celestia, was pretty much my reaction when found out what this episode was about.

So this episode was at a disadvantage with me long before I'd even watched it because of that bias I had against his character. But, having watched it, I can safely say that, as an episode in it's own right, it's a good one. The story was well-told given the premise it was working with, the characters all behaved in a believable and well0-excecuted way and the central story and conflict was genuinely compelling. So even in spite of all the bad feelings I had at the time, I cannot deny that this was a worthy entry into the series.

Talking about the characters to begin with and it's safe to say that Fluttershy was the main focus here. And I'll just say right now that her character and the way she behaves here is by far one of the best things about this episode. She doesn't go through much in the way of change or growth, but she doesn't need to because her actions in this episode are both in-characetr and very well thought out. Having her be the one to ultimately try and make a bad character behave properly is something we've seen her try and do many times before. From the time she took care of Celestia's pet phoenix to the time she looked after the CMC, to all those times when a character or creature's behaviour as been out of line and she's had to try and stop them. Fluttershy is the go-to character when it comes to trying to reform any character in this series, which makes her the ideal choice for an episode like this.

And if that wasn't good enough, there's also the fact that the way she acts in this episode is very consistent with her attitude and behaviour from when she last interacted with Discord. Back in his first episode, Fluttershy, like the others, was one of his victims when Discord attempted to corrupt her and behave against her element. But despite using the same lies and trick he'd used against the others, she was immune to it, being positive and upbeat about all the terrible things he was saying. So useless was Discord's attempt to corrupt her, that he had to just give up and use his magic directly.

This is why I think that Fluttershy was the ideal choice for this episode. She was the only one of the main six that Discord could not corrupt, taunt, mock or annoy. Not only that, but her well-established traits as being the kind and caring one would mean that she'd give a character a second chance regardless of what they've done to her in the past. This combination makes her not only the ideal choice to reform Discord in the episode, but possibly even the ONLY pony character who could have done so. I don't know if this was intentional on the part of Mr Polsky, but if it was, then I salute him for it.

However, on the flip-side of all that is that throughout the episode I felt exactly the way the other ponies felt towards her and her actions. Her continued defending of Discord and his actions led me to consider her to be overly naive about the whole thing, which stands in contrast to past episodes as she's been shown many times to have a definite limit to her tolerance of other people's actions. In fact, so great was my frustration over it that this review almost didn't make it out as I'd deliberately banged my head against my keyboard when Fluttershy promised not to use her element. That's how bad it was.

But, in spite of that, I could feel in this episode that she genuinely care to try an make Discord a better person in spite of his obvious flaws and actions. And I give her credit for that.

As for the other characters, like Fluttershy they all behave in a consistent manner, acting exactly as I'd expected them to act. Their refusal to give Discord a second chance is exactly how I would expect them to behave, given what he did to them the last time they met. And, given what I said earlier, it's how I wanted them to behave towards him. While it's true that they've forgiven other characters for their actions in the past, there seems to be a limit to what they'll forgive, which makes them come across as far more realistic.

Twilight's behaviour was the most striking in this episode. Not because of her rejecting Discord, because like I said it's how I expected her to act. But because that her refusal comes in the face of the fact that this task was given to her by Princess Celestia. if this attempt to reform Discord came about because some other pony suggested it, then I'd understand, but Twilight has always been shown to be fiercely devoted to the Princess and her commands. As such, in spite of her rejection being a reasonable reaction, it's rather surprising to see her not want to keep at it, if only for the sake of her mentor. Then again, this season has set the precedent for her going against the Princess' commands if she felt it was the right thing to do, like in "Crystal Empire", so I suppose it's still in-character.

But of course, the character everyone wants to hear about is our returning villain, Discord. I'd suspected for some time that this character would make a comeback, ever since I'd heard the conformation that his voice actor, John DeLancie, would be coming back to MLP. And before I get into the character himself, I want to say that, as before, Mr DeLancie does a fine job of voicing this character. Much like his most famous role Q from Star Trek, of which Discord shares many qualities, he provides just the right combination of humour and menace to the character. This is the kind of role which DeLancie has always been good at portraying, voice or otherwise, and it's good that they decided to keep him in the role instead of giving it to someone else.

As for his character, I felt that, while he was certainly in-character in this epsiode, he seemed to have been downgraded as a threat. In the past episode, he was portrayed as pretty much the pony universe version of the devil, a trickster who, if let loose, would case misery to all who encountered him. Here, although he certainly causes many problems, he's portrayed more as annoying and as comic relief rather than as the embodiment of evil. To emphasise this point, the fact that Celestia just dumps him off with the ponies and outright asks them to reform him just staggers me. In the past, Discord's release would have been enough to drive her to action, and that his freedom was something she dreaded. So to have her actually want him free is a dubious decision at best.

And then there was the fact that he was secretly planning to trick Fluttershy the whole time. Given everything I've said it should be no surprise that this was something I expected him to do. And indeed I felt that it was a logical action for him to take given his past failure. Driving all six apart wasn't necessary as he only needed to take one element out of the picture to ensure his freedom. And to his credit, his plan worked, making fluttershy both the only pony that could have reformed him and the only one who would have ensured his freedom at the same time.

Getting back to Celestia, I feel the need to discuss her plan here. While I understand that Discord powers could be used for good, freeing him was a serious risk. True it was stated that the elements had been protected from him, but that wasn't the only way he could have ensured his freedom. All he would need to do was teleport himself somewhere far from the elements' reach and he'd have eluded them. And he even came close to succeeding in his plan when he convinced Fluttershy not to user hers against him. So even though her plan may have been born of good intentions, I feel that it was too big a risk to go ahead with it as too many things could have gone wrong.

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't discuss things like fanfiction in these reviews. However, I feel the need to do so here because, watching this episode made me immediately think of a particular MLP fanfic I've read in the past (not mine in case you were wondering) which had an uncanny resemblance to the events of this episode. Discord returning and only Fluttershy is willing to put up with him and try and make him better. Now I'm not saying that the writers have deliberately stolen a fan's work, but I felt the need to point this out.

As for the humour, I found it to be rather uncomfortable. I felt about it in much the same way that I felt the last time Discord showed up. I've often said of him that his particular brand of humour would be "if Pinkie Pie was unlikeable" and that sentiment still holds true here. He's random like her, but in a way that speaks to his more malicious personality, with no regard for who gets inconvenienced by his antics. As such while there is certainly humour here, it's done at the expense of others, which is something I've never found to be amusing.

No song this week so I won't be talking about one.

Time to talk about the moral now and this week it seems to be that characters can change for the better despite the things they may have done in the past, and that all you need to do is persevere in order to make that happen. This is a very good lesson to teach kids. Forgiveness is an issue that I haven't seen this show address before and even when past antagonists have apologised and been regretful for their actions, like Trixie, it was always a side-note of the episode rather than the focus. Children need to learn about forgiveness, and while I don't think that all people and actions can be forgiven, I'd be remiss if I were to simply deny the value of the virtue entirely.

Overall I'd say that despite my negative feelings towards Discord, this episode did a great job with what it had. The character played to all their strengths well, especially Fluttershy. The story was well-told and consistently interesting to watch throughout. The voice acting was great and there were never once nay dull moment or nagging plot holes to ruin my enjoyment. I think the decision to wait as long as they did to bring Discord back was a good one, as having him come back too soon would have likely lessened the impact of him coming back. And I think that it was a good idea to not have the show's second returning villain have some sort of revenge-style comeback, as it would have made it seem too similar to "Magic Duel". All-in-all this episode had a lot of good going for it and managed to impress me in spite of my own personal bias.

So you're probably asking right now, how do I now feel about Discord now that he's apparently reformed? Well, it's hard for me to say. Whilst I personally don't forgive him for his past actions, I do admit that he seems genuinely willing to do good now, for the sake of his new friend if nothing else. As for me, for Fluttershy's sake and in the name of second chances, I'm willing to tolerate his now continued freedom. But outright forgiveness? That will take a while.

Join me next time when Spike get's in over his head in "Just for sidekicks".

That was quite enjoyable to read, and I must say you really got into the show with much depth and feedback.

With that said, I have to say something in which is my own personal feelings if not opinions overall.

I didn't want him going good because, deep down, I didn't want to forgive him for the things he'd done, and I didn't want the characters forgiving him either. I wanted to keep hating him, because I felt he deserved it. The things he'd done to them were as bad as things get in this MLP world and as such I felt that he deserved no chance at redemption for it

Even though you and others have felt this way towards Discord, I for one love him solely because of this.
Discord is unlike a lot of villains i've seen in cartoons or heck even movies. Usually the villain will want to kill off or hold protagonists in a cell. However, this villain turned their morals against them, making them the anti-version of their personalities. I adored that, for it was clever and the guy was very amused throughout the show never having to physically harm anyone.

Not to mention he was creative in his plots to break the friendships the main 6 had. He's the reason my favorite shows are episode 1 and 2 of Season 2 (though I personally loved the last 2 episodes involving 'The Canterlot Wedding' because of Chrysalis).

Anyhow, this episode did not disappoint me at all. Was worried he would be thumbed down or given a cheesy personality but nope- he's just as good and clever especially with the segment of eating the papers Twilight needed to use the spell. I loved that, and Discord kept his respects from me and most of the fans. I even appreciated him not just changing to good, but mocking Fluttershy with the friendship plan along with he can do whatever he likes. It was the realization she actually was his only friend that cared is what got the guy to feel guilt. Everyone needs someone and seeing him open up a bit was awesome, but still felt cheesy because he does resemble evil well.

Only gripe was his chaotic magic wasn't on a large enough scale. I felt he could of gone better but I have to keep reminding myself if he went overboard he would of just gotten sealed again by the main 6. Ether way, he deserved the screen time and I appreciate how he wasn't ruined as a character. You did an awesome review and though we disagree about his personality, we both can agree that Celestia just risked all of life by having the main 6 free him. Then again she does things that are questionable such as why would you keep the Spirit of Chaos in your garden the first time? Just saying.

I didn't like this episode. The writing was really mediocre, apart from Discord the script felt really forced and the jokes were very hit or miss apart from a few, mainly the Discord lamp and Rarity's dress getting ruined.

The backgrounds looked really flat strangely, usually the show look gorgeous but for some reason it was over looked this time, the animation was still good though.

Discord started off really well in the episode but it would of been far better off with him not being reformed at the end and to keep him as a re-occuring villain. That may still happen but the end seemed pretty final.

The season has been really bad so far, only 2 episodes where I would say "yeah that was solid, would watch again". Maybe it is the end for this show? Hopefully not but it sure feels like it.

EDIT: Just found out that this episode was written by a 15 year old fan, that explains the poor script.

xplosive59:
EDIT: Just found out that this episode was written by a 15 year old fan, that explains the poor script.

.. Oh? Mind if you show me a link or proof of this? Not accusing you of lying, but I would really wish to know if this is true.
If it really was written by a 15 year old, then I want to ask the people behind the studio- why? Then again I liked the episode so I wasn't bothered by it much though it totally could of improved.

xplosive59:

EDIT: Just found out that this episode was written by a 15 year old fan, that explains the poor script.

Dave Polsky? The dude has a wife and 3 kids, and he's been writing for years...

xplosive59:

The season has been really bad so far, only 4 episodes where I would say "yeah that was solid, would watch again". Maybe it is the end for this show? Hopefully not but it sure feels like it.

Really, you've (to an extent) disliked most of the episodes. I thought every episode but the 2 openers were fantastic. But thats personal opinion for ya. We each know what we like.

Caramel Frappe:

xplosive59:
EDIT: Just found out that this episode was written by a 15 year old fan, that explains the poor script.

.. Oh? Mind if you show me a link or proof of this? Not accusing you of lying, but I would really wish to know if this is true.
If it really was written by a 15 year old, then I want to ask the people behind the studio- why? Then again I liked the episode so I wasn't bothered by it much though it totally could of improved.

He saying the writers of the show stole the idea from a fan. *Sigh* Which is stupid. Their are so many damn stories out there that there is bound to be some ideas found within the show. I believe I know which story he is talking about though its not bad, but not great either.

I liked that they turned Discord good by giving him something to care about besides making chaos. The thing is, it did feel a bit rushed. Just because someone says they're your friend doesn't automatically make them one. He didn't seem to be appreciating Fluttershy's trust in him at all and their time together wasn't that much different from what he did when he was by himself. I know the idea of her being his first friend ever carries a lot of weight but that's also the downside: All that time by himself means he doesn't really have any appreciation for what friendship is. There's never been any indication that his was lonely, or that he had anything but distain for the Elements of Harmony. Maybe making it a two parter would have made it more believable as there would have been more time for him really want to be Fluttershy's friend, and a reason to feel bad when he pushes her too far.

It felt rushed, but the overall message was good. Discord was a likable character, and rather Joker-esque in his villainy. Discord being reformed is going to come up again. They won't just leave this episode die; and for good reason. I hope to see him again in a future episode.

On a sidenote, this episode has made my interest rise again for MLP, as it has been slipping recently due to the episodes being boring. ESPECIALLY the one before this. What a bore-fest it was.

To me, it felt like the writers were holding out for most of the episode. As if they were just having fun with Discord animating kitchenware, and then at the last minute, pulled back and said "Seriously though, we have to actually do this" and reformed Discord. The ending felt pretty rushed and out of left field and blah blah.

My biggest worry is what Discord is going to be like now. Something that really bothered me was the way he was carrying himself at the end of the episode: he was walking. Just walking. Discord never just walks anywhere, he floats and zaps around. Sure he's on the ground once in a while, but he seems to prefer teleporting all over the place. Now, he just kinda... walks. Like a normal, boring guy. Which is something Discord should *never* be. Boring. I dunno, I know its a small thing, but I worries me.

xplosive59:

Discord started off really well in the episode but it would of been far better off with him not being reformed at the end and to keep him as a re-occuring villain. That may still happen but the end seemed pretty final.

The season has been really bad so far, only 4 episodes where I would say "yeah that was solid, would watch again". Maybe it is the end for this show? Hopefully not but it sure feels like it.

You...DO realize that this is OBVIOUSLY a lead-up episode to the season finale/season 4, right?

He'll be back, just working on the pony side against whatever evil shows up next. Which means he'll still be funny and chaotic, just against the bad guys as opposed to the good guys.

Hell, there may not even be an evil that he helps against, he may just be involved in helping Twilight for the season finale, which has this as the tagline:

OT: For that reason, and for several others, I liked this week's episode. It's good to finally see lead-up episodes like those from Season 1 (with the various episodes referencing the Gala before the Gala episodes themselves).

Caramel Frappe:

xplosive59:
EDIT: Just found out that this episode was written by a 15 year old fan, that explains the poor script.

.. Oh? Mind if you show me a link or proof of this? Not accusing you of lying, but I would really wish to know if this is true.
If it really was written by a 15 year old, then I want to ask the people behind the studio- why? Then again I liked the episode so I wasn't bothered by it much though it totally could of improved.

Dangit2019:

xplosive59:

EDIT: Just found out that this episode was written by a 15 year old fan, that explains the poor script.

Dave Polsky? The dude has a wife and 3 kids, and he's been writing for years...

If you look on the wikipedia page it said that the story was written by Teddy Antonio, This page (http://intensedebate.com/people/TeddyAntonio/2) is where he is discussing the episode and says...

"I will confirm this as 100% true! My name is Teddy Antonio and I was lucky enough to get to write the premise and outline for this episode when I was 15. Meghan is a wonderful writer and was so much fun to work with. She completed the script and I can't wait to watch her masterpiece!!!"

Dave Polsky refined the script and changed some stuff so that is why heis also credited.

I think you could of mention or gone into depth with Discord actually relent and give into being reform in favour of keeping his friendship with Fluttershy.

By all means I don't think the episode was bad but I cannot fathom the idea why Discord started to view friendship that highly well needed it? Is it because Fluttershy was the first to put up with his antic (also in turn I applause Fluttershy to endure that much chaotic stunt from Discord in order to gain his trust or so she belived)? Even then I wouldn't exactly called that being friends, more like being a good host to a unbearable guest (maybe if they had more time, they could of shown a montage of the two hanging out doing friend bonding related activities).

While your interpretion of the moral/ lesson is sound but I think you missed one of the key dialogued spoken by Discord-

"I like it better my way, but I guess when you're friends, you can't always have things exactly your way all the time."

That to me is a greater scale when it come to being a friendship report. Many times I have to give in when I'm with my mates (e.g. while I could of gone to this shop but since it was far away, my mate won't head back to the train station in time so I choose my friend well being than to check out a shop) but that is a good thing as you learn to be more considering to others than to cared only for yourself.

Also that being spoken by Discord also reinforce with him being reform as it shows he willing to change and not being selfish most of the time (he did say most of the time).

I... what? You seem to be analyzing this in the wrong way.

Fluttershy wasn't being naive. What is so off about her taking Discord's side? He barely did anything. In fact, you brought up that you "couldn't forgive him" for reversing the elements in the Mane 6. The heck? How is it unforgiveable to take reasonable, pretty-much-harmless completely-necessary measures to ensure that you don't get sealed away again for all eternity? In fact, the wost thing we've ever seen Discord do was making Berry Punch sneeze. Oh, horrors.

Discord was never a villain in the first place. Trixie, Gilda, and even Diamond Tiara were consistently doing far, far worse things than Discord ever attempted. He's chaotic-neutral.

 

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