Monday, January 27, 2014

Episode Talk: S4E11, Three's a Crowd

Wanna talk about something that's not pony fanfiction?  How about ponies themselves!  Every now and then I have a fair bit to say about an episode, and this is one of those times.  My thoughts on the latest episode are all below the break; go ahead and dive on in.

-Okay, before I even start talking about what I liked/disliked about the show itself: all I could think about for the last half of the episode was "Oh my god, It's a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door!"  I mean, not exactly... but it's a flower with mystical healing properties guarded by a giant snake, come on!  When Discord first brought up the flower, I was saying to myself "They're going for the beneviolet!" and then I was sort of giggling to myself as they flew over what I had already decided in my head were Gildedale and the Shimmerwood on their way to the Drackenridge Mountains.  But then, when the World Snake Tatzlwurm, I guess, showed up... well, I ended up having to re-watch most of the ending because I was so busy remembering Dangerous Business.  Dang, I love that fanfic, and even though I know it's just a coincidence, I love that this episode reminded me of it.

-Okay, on to the episode itself, and moving in more-or-less chronological order: I thought the opening was pretty weak.  Everything prior to Discord showing up in front of Cadence and Twilight could have been summarized in thirty seconds or less (maybe done up into a slightly longer scene if the breezies bit with Fluttershy has importance beyond building continuity), and mostly felt like an excuse to work the other ponies into the episode.  There were some nice moments (the Crystal Empire's train may not be as endearing to me as the horse-drawn one from Over a Barrel, but at least it's less inappropriately silly than the pink-hearted monstrosity which we've gotten used to seeing) and plenty of nice physical humor (Discord always seems to have that going for him), but it all felt extremely filler-ish to me.

-Cadence has always been sort of a blah character to me--she hasn't been given much of a canon personality, and I've always vaguely resented her for being Hasbro's designated "pink princess" (I know, it's not her fault... but then, she's imaginary, so what does she care what I hold against her?).  But here, I felt a lot more positive towards her.  Part of that is her being given a bit more characterization here, especially towards the end when she's talking about her need for excitement and whatnot.  Part of that is also, I think, that I've written a story about her since the last Cadence episode.  I've found I identify more with the characters I've written about, and it turns out Cadence is no exception.  Maybe I should try writing stories about some of my other least- (well, less-) favorite characters.

-I'm still not gonna spell it "Cadance," though.

-I enjoyed the song.  It wasn't particularly inspired or catchy, musically speaking, but I've got a deep-seated love of patter songs (from Mozart to G&S to Donald Swann, I've sung a lot of patter songs), and this would be a fun one to stage.  Plus, de Lancie has a nice voice for that kind of work, with clear diction and a pleasant effortlessness even while pouring out syllables quickly.  I wouldn't have minded a more musical, less speechified approach personally, but I was very happy with the end result.

-Speaking of Discord: while the plot seemed a bit contrived to me, Discord himself I found wonderfully entertaining.  I still really dislike Keep Calm and Flutter On as an episode, but if Discord's going to continue to be affably antagonistic and consistently un-serious, even about the "magic" of "friendship," (as I'm sure he'd bequote it), then I can at least acknowledge that I'm glad the showwriters did make the effort to bring him back.

-One thing I didn't like?  Cadence and Twi's battle with the worm.  No, I don't want to put My Little Pony back in its G3 box of zero-conflict and endless tea parties, but that doesn't mean I'm on board for zapping monsters with lasers (red and blue lasers, no less!) as a resolution device.  It's not that I think laser battles are too violent, or even that I have a particular problem with the suggested moral (especially in a case like this, where they're only being used to resolve a secondary conflict), but it did feel like an odd departure from the tone the show generally sets.

-Best moment of expanded characterization?  When the worm sneezes on the two ponies and Discord, and Cadence shields herself and Twi--but not Discord, who's sitting right there.  Sure, you could probably argue that she already had the shield over her and Twi up and didn't have time to react or something, but your words fall on deaf ears; Discord is literally in Twilight's hooves, and I refuse to believe that his being left unshielded was anything but deliberate.  Cadence may have had a good day despite your shenanigans, Discord, but that doesn't mean she won't get all passive-aggressive with you.

-This is probably my favorite episode of season four so far.  A slow start notwithstanding, I laughed plenty of times throughout, I enjoyed the song, and I'm even warming up to the pretty pink princess.

-Plus, Dangerous Business.  Man, I ought to re-read that one sometime; this episode reminded me just how much I liked it.  In fact, this is without a doubt my favorite season four episode, even if it might not be the best in terms of pacing or character use (really, there was no reason to include the other five ponies at all, yet they were all shoehorned in.  Authors, don't do this).  And if that "favorite" designation rests on the fact that it happened to have some passing similarity to one of my favorite fanfics, so be it.  I can like things for whatever reason I want!


  1. I, too, thought of Dangerous Business. Squealing may've been involved. I actually couldn't wait for this post and almost sent you a very geeky message about it

    Honestly, after all that Dangerous business, I forgot there was even a song in this episode. It was enjoyable, though some parts fell a little flat for me. I couldn't help but compare it to Friend Like Me from Aladdin, which probably didn't help it win me over

    Pretty much agreed with you on everything else - especially on the spelling of Cadence's name! It was a pretty good episode, though I'm not sure I'd call it my favorite of S4

    1. >Honestly, after all that Dangerous business,


  2. Oddly, I agree with you on everything but liking it. I thought it was one of the more "meh" episodes of the season, down there with Castle Mane-ia but actually, y'know, entertaining, thanks mostly to Discord. And Gilbert and Sullivan! That's what I was thinking of during that song! I'm going to HAVE to read Dangerous Business now. (Thankfully, I have plans to!)

    And an excuse to shoehorn all six characters into an episode? In season 4? NEVER :V

  3. Ha! I've been waiting since Saturday morning for you to geek out about Dangerous Business, and you did not disappoint. Confession: I re-read it last night.

  4. Random aside: today I leaned the word flounce.

    It tickled me. It tickled me a lot.

  5. It was probably my favourite as well. Or if not, it's up there. I've said before that I love Discord, right?

    I love Discord.

    I love Discord SO MUCH.

  6. While I do not share your exact feelings on the battle with the Tatzlwurm, I too found it... infavorable? Yeah, let's go with that. While I don't need them to go all Dragonball Z on it (though I certainly wouldn't mind that), It just felt kinda... weak? Yeah, let's go with that. To me, it doesn't compare to that epic battle at the end of Dangerous Business which was also on my mind during this episode. Mmm, I wouldn't mind a re-reading of that myself.

    Word of the day: Flounce.
    (THANKS S. "I." MENCE!)

    1. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I saw someone call that new train "The Bitchin' Express."
      I'd like to throw in my vote for that name.