Saturday, January 26, 2013

Reviewing is Magic: Episode 7

In his never-ending attempt to keep an open mind regarding interests and hobbies of the people around him, Erik has exposed himself to a wide variety of experiences in the world to figure out why people like the things they like. Some things continue to perplex him, while others....well, sometimes that hook is hard to avoid.  Such is the case of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

So last episode, the adventure aspect of the show returned, with a battle against a bear made of outer space.  That's a sentence I'll never get tired of saying, "bear made of outer space."  For those of you who cry fowl stating that it wasn't a real battle, I say "if sleep tactics work for Pokemon, they work for this."

This episode, we get a small spotlight on Fluttershy, and while some aspects of her are exaggerated for comedic effect, I think this episode does a great job highlighting what makes her great.  So, with the meekest, kindest pony taking center stage, what's our conflict?

Well all right, then!  What could possibly go wrong?

The episode starts with the introduction of one of my other favorite characters from the series, Fluttershy's pet bunny "Angel."  We meet this little guy after getting an idea of what Fluttershy does all day, namely feed an entire menagerie of animals under her care.  I saw some weird otter/ferret creature that she fed fish to, and she even carries worms up for the local birds ((yes, in her mouth, and yes, she does "bleh" afterward).  The bunny, though...this bunny is all attitude.  At the very idea it's eating too fast, it essentially goes "fine, screw your carrot."  And nothing Fluttershy does will get it to eat any more of it.  

After Angel alerts Fluttershy to a cloud of smoke that's arriving to overtake the land (not related to the smog cloud over Bejing visible from space), we get our first view of how Fluttershy is actually viewed by the other ponies in Ponyville.  It isn't pretty.

The words "emergency," "cloud of smoke," and "start over in a new village" are used by her, but since a) Fluttershy's panicked voice is about as loud as the voice every librarian wished you'd speak amongst her books, and b) nobody ever takes her fears seriously, nobody even notices the giant cloud of death until Twilight Sparkle shows up saying that the Princess has tasked her and her friends with dealing with the problem.

Oh, the problem?  Yeah.  It's a grown dragon.  In the cave at the top of a mountain.  Snoring.  It's apparently taking a nap that, if they don't get it to relocate, could plunge Equestria (yes, the whole kingdom) into smoky darkness for a hundred years.

Pinkie Pie has a great line here about, if a dragon is snoring smoke, "he should really see a doctor.  That doesn't sound healthy at all."

So Twilight gets the group hyped up, and Fluttershy...well, she volunteers to stay behind, because wouldn't you?  Twilight insists she come since she's best with wild creatures, but even the other ponies are hesitant to have her along.  After all, as Rainbow Dash points out, "she's afraid of her own shadow." 

No, that isn't a joke.

Someone just watched the X-Files episode "Soft Light."
She has to come anyway, so the whole team gets ready, and we get a sweet "prep for battle" montage!

This is a universe where you can dip your extremities in rainbows and use them for war paint.  This is insane.

Fluttershy is so terrified of dragons, her wings refuse to flap when she hears the dragon snoring from the base of the mountain.  There are multiple moments where her fear halts the team in their tracksMy personal favorite was Applejack's compassion leading her to drag a literally petrified-with-fear Fluttershy around the mountain and up another path, but the avalanche Fluttershy causes was pretty cool, too.

And then we meet the dragon.  And here things go down hill.  Fluttershy, the team's best hope for waking it up and moving it, completely chickens out.  That means it's down to plan B (Twilight trying to negotiate), plan C (Rarity trying to flatter it into leaving), and...well, then there's plan D.

...let's move on.

When none of those work, Rainbow Dash, famously acting before she thinks, tries the last thing you should ever do: kick the dragon in the face.  This...goes poorly.  One single roar, and most of the ponies are down, except for Fluttershy.  So, when you're faced with a giant, red creature of death and destruction, all your allies have fallen, and there's no giant Care Bear Stare around to does the most timid pony in Ponyville take care of the problem?

She gets pissed.

Fluttershy is like the Bruce Banner of ponies.  She keeps every single reaction pushed down, until the point where she can't take it anymore and she Hulks out.  Watch the episode here, when she's done intimidating the hell out of the dragon, it actually whimpers.

Fluttershy lays out the situation and essentially intimidates the dragon into finding a new place to stay, an act that made my go "holy sh-" through the whole block of time I was watching.  She's come a long way from keeping a manticore from tearing her friends apart with a simple smile, but even when the dragon's cowering before her, she's never rude to it, just firm.  She even apologizes for Rainbow Dash kicking it in the face.

Fluttershy is, quite simply, what I think most people wish they could be in dealing with challenges.  Never negative, just strong in their position.  If the internet had more people like that, maybe it'd be worth reading Youtube comments again.

Oh, and don't worry, this won't be the last time we see Fluttershy's personality snap.  There's a ways to go, still, but you do all still have this to look forward to:

Yeah, be afraid.  I know I was. 

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