Get your nerves pre-rattled because this weeks’ episode is gonna be ultra-spooky! After three season, we finally get another episode based on the best holiday in the show due to it being an analogue for what really is the best holiday (Halloween) but also because it’s a celebration all about Luna!! Sadly, it looks like this won’t be another one of her episodes but that doesn’t mean they won’t find SOME way to have lots of fun with the fantastic setting they’ve got here, right? Will this be another classic that lives up to the original Nightmare Night episode which was also the first Luna centric one, or will this continue to be less than stellar like the last two episodes in the wake of Crusaders of the Lost Mark? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with Fluttershy battening down the hatches for whatever is terrifying her this time. Zombie apocalypse? Alien invasion? Were-rabbits? Nope, it’s simply because it’s Nightmare Night and that alone is enough to send her into full on survivalist mode. Then again, I’d be a bit hesitant to go outside if I saw ponies wearing those… questionable outfits.
Alright, so we have another scaredy cat episode for Fluttershy. We’ve gone back to that well several times already, but maybe they have an interesting new angle this time, especially with the Nightmare Night setting. Despite wanting nothing more than to settle into her pillow fort of greater demon protection, she’s forced to go outside to buy her little fussy bunny (aka abusive jerk wad) some carrots. Wait, didn’t we already see this as well in Putting Your Hoof Down!? Oh well, at least it’s an excuse to get the plot going! She wanders through town like a drug mule at an airport and is on edge about EVERYTHING around her, including pumpkins, FAKE spiders (yet she likes the real ones) and bad teeth.
Her panicked scampering eventually leads her to Big Mac and Granny Smith who know she shouldn’t be out right now but won’t help her out!! She’s looking for something to feed Angel and wants to bum some hay off their fifty or so bales, but they can’t spare enough to feed a rabbit because they’re still working on their Haunted Maze. Wait, it’s Nightmare Night and you’re STILL building the damn thing!?
Getting nowhere fast in town (apparently buying vegetables in COMPELETLY IMPOSSIBLE right now) she heads over to Twilight’s Doom Fortress to see if she has anything stockpiled. Doesn’t seem like a great idea to go to a dark and empty (therefore spooky) castle all alone when you’ve already psyched yourself up for the terrors surrounding you, but then again I don’t have to go back to a physically abusive rabbit, now do I? After wandering the halls for some time, she eventually runs into a truly terrifying sight to behold. Spike’s costume is from a Farrelly Brothers film!!!
Spike pleads with Fluttershy to hang out with him and the others tonight instead of just hiding away like she always does and she actually agrees to do so when she hears just how much fun they’re having upstairs. Oh hey! She even justifies it by citing precedence (how she was afraid to sing in Filli Vanilli)!! I bet they’re gonna have all SORTS of fun with her hanging around tonight!! Yeah… no. Right off the bat, she makes this rather difficult for them to enjoy themselves, starting with the costume which Rarity is TRYING to help her with but she’s being just a tad unreasonable about it.
She eventually settles on a black dress with nothing else which is supposedly a masquerade costume without the mask (kind of like what Frank did in that one episode of It’s Always Sunny) and everypony else pretends she put any effort into it. Their costumes by the way seem to be The Little Sea Pony, The 1980s, Spartacus, The Cowardly Lion, and of course Buzz Aldrin.
Hold the phone… where exactly did Rainbow Dash get her astronaut outfit? Did they actually manage to have space travel in this universe? Does the planet of Equestria operate on the Geocentric Model considering that Celestia and Luna are rotating the celestial bodies around the planet!? DID THEY HAVE A PISSING MATCH WITH THE GRIFFINSTONE KINGDOM FIFTY YEARS AGO AND EVENTUALLY GOT A PONY ONTO THE MOON!?!? WAS NIGHTMARE MOON THERE TO GREET THE FIRST ASTRO-PONIES LIKE DOCTOR MANHATTAN DID IN WATCHMEN!?!? I NEED ANSWERS!!!!!
Anyway, things continue to spiral out of control as Fluttershy’s paranoia is constantly reinforced by her friends trying so hard to accommodate her. She can’t wear a blindfold for pin the horn on Nightmare Moon (that HAS to be offensive to Luna, right?) because she’s afraid an attacker with take advantage of her temporary blindess. You know, those attackers that will get past the five other Friendship Warriors without you noticing anything. Same thing with bobbing for apples because for those three seconds she’s under water (do you really dunk your ENTIRE head in the bucket for that?), she’s afraid a monster will sneak up on he. Okay… what about candy? NOPE!! If she eats taffy, she might not be able to scream if a monster comes out from the shadows. THEN EAT CANDY THAT’S LESS CHEWING INTENSIVE!!! Fluttershy’s fear is always something that the series struggles with and it can easily be overdone. I think they’re overdoing it here, but that’s also kind of the point. This is about her friends trying to make her a part of something they enjoy, but it not working out because of her phobias. I don’t think they had to go THIS far to make the point, but at least it HAS a point. Fluttershy is feeling bad about spoiling the fun for everypony, so Twilight (being the stalwart leader of this group) comes up with a plan that will make work for all of them! Have Fluttershy be the one doing the scaring so that she will never feel that she’s out of control of the situation! GREAT IDEA!! Oh wait; she has no idea how to scare ponies. That, or she’s confusing horror with poor manners because all she can come up with is a poorly planned tea party. Well that, and… whatever the heck this is.
I HAVE SO MANY QUESITONS!!! Does this imply that there are ponified versions of Akira Toriyama, Chiho Saito, Rumiko Takahashi, Hideaki Anno, and Naoko Takeuchi, all of whom probably have hilarious horse puns in their names (especially Toriyama because he’s Toriyama)? Not all of these are manga (Evangelion was JUST an anime series), so does this imply there are pony animators in a ponified Japan? O-Saddle-Ka maybe? DOES THIS WORLD HAVE TO DEAL WITH OBNOXIOUS NEON PONY-SIS EVAN-STALLION FANS AS WELL!?!? Wait, so now Fluttershy is a total Otaku as well? Pony-Taku? I DON’T KNOW ANYMORE!!
In all seriousness, I really don’t get the point of that visual gag. I like the reference there and if it means that SOMEONE now wants to know who Sailor Moon is or watches a Rumiko Takahashi series, well that’s a big win all around. Still, what does it MEAN? What relevance does five anime and manga references have to a world that hasn’t even established that either medium exists here? Hell, what relevance does it have to a HALLOWEEN episode? This probably will just be a one off joke so further examination might be pointless, but it’s baffling if nothing else. Clearly no one is having any fun so Fluttershy decides to let them spend their Nightmare Night doing what they enjoy rather than drag them down with her. You see? There’s a pretty damn good moral here! Not everypony has to like what you like and you should always respect when people aren’t comfortable doing something! That would be a good note to end this episode on… but we’ve got eight more minutes to kill, so let’s get into some shenanigans!! Despite realizing that she’s not cut out for Nightmare Night festivities, she gets pressured by Angel to try once again to scare her friends and even has some ideas of his owns on how to do that.
Before we can see what horrific scheme Angel has planned for the Mane 6 (I’m guessing it involves machetes and chainsaws), we cut to them and Spike entering the HAUNTED MAZE that referenced earlier. The first horror? HORSE HEAD!!!
The maze itself is decent enough with Big Mac as a mummy and a Jason Voorhees hanging around one of the corners (played by Kane Halter perhaps?), but it’s not quite the traumatizing experience some of them were looking for. That is until they run into GHOSTS and start Scooby-Dooing all over the place!
Their frightful fleeing eventually lands them in a giant hold (the PERFECT place to end up when getting chased) and whatever it is that’s pursuing them closes the hole so that they’re stuck there. DAMN!! I know Fluttershy wants to scare them, but Angel is coming up with some Cask of Amaontillado shit over here (written by Edgar Allan Poe-ny presumably). They look around for a bit and Applejack runs into the SKELETAL CORPSE OF HER OWN GRANDMOTHER ROCKING GENLTY IN HER CHAIR!! WHAT KIND OF HITCHCOCKIAN PSYCHO SHIT IS THIS!?
Needless to say that the endless onslaught of eclectic horrors (the Gilman shows up in this cave for some reason) does its job and it leaves our heroes a quivering scurrying mess as they try to find a way out! They’re greatest horror however is lying in wait for them to reach the outside which is… FLUTTERBAT!! Also, for some reason her voice is WAY off as she does her evil cackle. I have no idea if it’s Andrea Libman doing that laugh, but it’s definitely not her Fluttershy voice. They don’t recognize her for some reason and just continue to cower in her wake. That or they’re waiting for her to get close enough to grab and then stab with a piece of wood.
Fluttershy immediately regrets her surprisingly effectively plots to scare them and breaks down crying to everypony’s surprise (also revealing that she didn’t turn into Flutterbat but was instead wearing a costume). When they know that it was Fluttershy and her animal friends all along, they’re quite overjoyed about the experience, but Fluttershy herself is still not happy about it. She decides that even if she CAN be an effective participant in the Nightmare Night festivities, she doesn’t want to and would rather spend the night with her animal friends like she was planning to. Everypony is super understanding about this and gives her one big hug before she retires for the evening. And so the episode ends with everyone learning a lesson and Fluttershy reading a story to all the animals who helped make this the bestest Nightmare Night ever!!
This was a very solid episode, but I there are lingering issues that keep it from being one of the best. It has MOMENTS that make it feel like it should be a standout episode and it’s also the only other Nightmare Night episode we’ve gotten from the show despite it being introduced all the way back in season two. We get fun costumes, lots of unexpected references, and a message that’s on point and really insightful. So what’s holding this episode back? Well, I thought they went a bit too far with Fluttershy’s fearfulness (something the show struggles with on occasion) and while the references were cute, they weren’t all that pertinent or germane to what was going on. Anime references are cool, but what are they doing in a Halloween episode? A Jason Voorhees pony shows up in the background in one scene, but the extent of the joke is just him appearing at all. Also, I’m still a bit confused as to how the pony who was too scared to bob for apples was able to help set up such an elaborate haunted cave without being petrified of stepping inside of it or even scared of hanging upside down outside of the cave’s entrance. I guess the implication is that Angel set a lot of this up, but I can’t even see Fluttershy going along with it enough for it to actually happen, especially considering how over the top terrified she was at the beginning. Maybe if they pulled back a bit earlier the final scene could have been a bit more believable, but that’s what happens when they go too far with this one aspect of Fluttershy’s personality. Still, it’s a strong episode overall and is absolutely much better than the Hearthbreakers which was a total waste of potential because they didn’t seem to know what it should have focused on (the family dynamics rather than a rehashed message). This one succeeds more than it doesn’t and knows what to do with its premise and is definitely the best episode since the high point that was Crusaders of the Lost Mark. It seems that they’re getting back into their stride after the post-important-episode drop off which will hopefully carry us through to the end of the season.
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