We’re back with another episode of The Twilight Sparkle Show! After the two back to back holiday episodes, it’s time to get the series back into the swing of things, and what better way to do that than with another Discord episode? John de Lancie’s preeminent performance as the god of all chaos is definitely a highlight of the series, but his presence can occasionally be a bit underwhelming, especially when he’s being overly needy instead of a rascally force of destruction. Will this end up being another classic Discord episode, or will we finally tire with his never ending antics and codependency? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with Twilight playing the library equivalent of fifty-two pick up, in that she took ALL the books off the shelves and is going to put them back on (with Spike’s help obviously). Look, I’ve had jobs where the best thing to do when bored was alphabetize the DVD bins, but she’s using up a three day weekend (what holiday is it, Celestia Day?) to re-alphabetize the library which I’m PRETTY sure is already alphabetized! Is it just me, or is Twilight becoming less and less relatable as the series goes on? She started off as an introverted bookworm who had her moments of wackiness, but was definitely an audience avatar when compared to the vibrant and specific personalities of the other characters. They’ve since added to her character and given her defining traits, but I think they’ve gone a bit too far and are approaching Big Bang Theory levels of cartoonish nerdiness.
The episode then skips to after the weekend with Twilight and Spike leaving the Doom Fortress and looking bleary eyed and the midday sky, adjusting to the glare of the sun. Wait, they didn’t even bother to leave the house? Did they even open a window!? Upon their reemergence to the rest of the world, they are confronted with an off-putting image which is Discord and Rainbow Dash hanging out. It seems that the two of them had some bonding time over the weekend while Twilight and Spike were inside making book forts or whatever. The new dynamic duo rush off to do other things, but Discord gives Twilight a sinister smirk before chasing after. I KNEW IT!! I was right all along! Discord is trying to get Twilight separated from the rest of her friends! My theory for a while now is that Discord (or possibly even Celestia) has been intentionally dictating the whims of the Cutie Map as some sort of test to see if Twilight gets jealous about it always choosing her friends over her (she hasn’t had a mission since the season premiere). He’s controlling the Cutie Map and now he’s getting all chummy with her friends whenever she’s not around! PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE!! It’s Batman RIP all over again!!
Things get even stranger though when she finds out that Rarity as well has been palling around with Discord. Okay… I have to call foul here. Discord isn’t just hanging out with them; he’s got them under his spell or something. There’s NO WAY that he can clean up his act long enough to woo someone like Rarity into not hating his guts. Sure enough though, once Discord (along with Fluttershy) come to the boutique, the three of them start laughing it up on some inside joke that Twilight finds confusing and I just find horrifying.
Discord tries to explain this by detailing their excursion to Sweet Apple Acres (Applejack is ALSO someone who wouldn’t trust Discord) but he can’t seem to convey it very well, though this does give him an opportunity to break the fourth wall.
Twilight ends up leaving the boutique bewildered and questioning if she’s in some sort of Invasion of the Body Snatchers type situation before being drawn to Sugarcube Corner by the sound of uproarious guffaws. Sure enough, Applejack and Pinkie Pie are under his spell as well and we get even MORE disturbing imagery!
Discord is just perfect through all of this. The handling of his character since his reformation has been surprisingly nuanced in that he didn’t actually stop being a jerk. He’s still the precocious bastard he always was, he’s just not out to destroy as much as before. In here, he’s constantly needling and poking at Twilight to try and get her to feel bad under the guise of concern for her having missed such a great weekend. Twilight continues to assure them that she’s just fine, and then completely caves in and starts to scheme. She deduces that AS the Princess of Friendship, it is her DUTY to recreate the fantastic weekend and attend it so that she can document it for future reference or something like that. She calls all the girls and Discord to meet her in the park to discuss something important, to which Pinkie Pie responds with “I like important”. Wait, that’s it? That’s the joke? THAT’S NOT A JOKE!! THAT’S A RALPH WIGGUM LINE!!!
They try to recreate the events, but none of it seems to be working and Discord eventually points out why. Despite them trying to recreate every variable exactly, the one variable that’s being irreparably changed (well it’s not the ONLY one but I guess it’s the one that’s important) is that Twilight is there at all. None of the others seem to be able to figure out that Discord is being a total dick, so they just end up agreeing with him without thinking of how Twilight is feeling. Is it REALLY that hard to read her mood? Is it really that hard to read Discord’s!? Twilight heads back to her Doom Fortress in a huff and resolves to break whatever spell Discord has put them under with Spike incessantly rolling his eyes at her. He’s supposed to be the voice of sanity in this episode to try and offset Twilight’s growing paranoia (basically the same dynamic as in Lesson Zero) but the bit feels a bit tired here as once again Spike is either powerless or unwilling to do anything to keep Twilight in check. He’s just there to look disapprovingly and remind the audience that we shouldn’t be taking Twilight seriously right now… except that we’re talking about Discord who in the past has faked an illness, helped an evil tyrant, and nearly sent someone to a puppet dimension. That’s the other thing. Discord is up to something whether or not he actually put a spell on the other ponies. Whatever Twilight’s lesson here is about jealousy is gonna ring a bit hollow considering that we’re dealing with a trickster god who’s been proven to not always be trustworthy. Her solution to solving this is to get a spell breaking potion to use on her friends but she apparently isn’t a master brewer so she goes to the one other person she knows who can do that. ZECORA!! When the hell was the last time we saw her? Was it Magic Duel? Well she’s back for this scene which is awesome, but it’s all too brief as she regurgitates Spike’s concern that she may be losing it, but capitulates and gives her a magic serum. Oh well. Maybe we’ll see her again in another two seasons…
Twilight calls the Mane 6 to her Doom Fortress the very next morning and informs them that they are all about to have an AWESOME day! First they have to drink a mysterious liquid though. That’s right. Twilight is promising them good times as long as they drink her magic juice.
All of them look sideways at her once she explains that it’s to break Discord’s spell and they refuse to drink it. Fluttershy is all indignant that she thinks Discord would do something like this (even though he threatened to throw her new friend into another dimension) and Rainbow Dash is upset that Twilight thinks it’d be that easy to fool them (even though she convinced that she committed a crime without remembering it in Rarity Investigates). Also, we saw Discord give Twilight the shifty eyes like ten times. As I had pointed out earlier, this doesn’t work as well as it should because we don’t have a reason to think Discord didn’t orchestrate this in some way. MAYBE Twilight would appear to be in the wrong more (or at least have a bit of ambiguity) if Discord wasn’t stroking his evil mustache every time he was around Twilight, but we saw him give her funny looks and we know his history. Things get worse once Discord shows up and they all just run off to him to make their inside jokes and leaving Twilight all on her own.
Well isn’t THAT nice of them! Abandon your friend when they’re clearly in an emotionally delicate state! This causes Twilight to blow a fuse (obviously) and pour her heart out to them for being such callous jerks. GOOD!! I’m glad SOMEONE finally said something that got through to someone else! Spike just kept half-heartedly badgering, the Mane 6 just kept being oblivious to Twilight’s feelings, and even Twilight was trying to disguise her hurt as scientific research; none of which led to anything getting resolved or even acknowledged. In this scene though, there appears to be an animation mistake. There’s a pan of the Mane 6 and discord while Twilight is giving her speech, and Discord’s expression changes for a couple of frames. There’s no transition between him changing his expression and then changing it back, so I doubt this was intentional.
The group finally has a chance to hash out their differences and everypony can finally go back to normal now that feelings have been felt. Then for no reason, Discord just kinda talks himself into a corner for no good reason. He just starts talking about how he didn’t do anything, but is glad he left her out so she can learn this lesson, but that it wasn’t his fault this happened… I ‘m not sure what exactly he’s getting at here. Either he’s lying through his teeth, or he’s just an oblivious idiot. If the former, why would he even say anything if he wasn’t even a part of the discussion. If it’s the latter, then what the hell was up with the shifty eyes throughout the episode? Well everypony just kinda turns on him and he starts to feel bad, but then they give him a big group hug. Happy ending for everyone!!
This was an interesting episode that works for the most part, but I it didn’t have a strong ending. Similar to the less than stellar The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows, this one is mostly about slapstick and shenanigans more than anything else with everyone acting just a bit more exaggerated than usual as well as Discord’s presence to liven things up. The humor works and is probably the best thing in the episode, but the moral feels a bit misplaced in this particular episode. It’s a nuanced and well thought out moral about trusting your friends and accepting that you won’t always be there when they have fun, but it doesn’t gel well with the episode they decided to put it in. Discord is a tough character to use as a wedge for the purpose of teaching a lesson because any negative reaction to him can be somewhat justified. Of course Twilight thinks he might have put a spell on him. HE EASILY COULD HAVE, not just because he has the power to but because he’s still learning to keep himself in check. This angle worked better in Party of One where Pinkie thought that her friends were up to something even though she should be more trusting of them. I don’t feel bad about her not trusting Discord to not pull the wool over her friends’ eyes. It’s not that farfetched. Other than that though, it’s a sold episode that has plenty of humor and even a cameo from one of the better underused characters in the series. It may not be a highlight of the series, but it’s still a lot of fun.
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