Saturday, January 19, 2013

My take on Keep Calm and Flutter On

As I said before, I'm a fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  Occasionally, I go to forums and talk about various episodes with fellow fans.  The most recent episode was one that sparked quite a bit of hype and excitement from the fans, because it meant the return of a fan-favorite foe from the series.  It's hard to understand how important this episode seems without really talking about the series itself, but I don't really want to do that here.  I'm just going to talk about my thoughts on the episode, and save my explanation of what I thought of the series for later on.  I might also do something similar for new episodes of Adventure Time and Gravity Falls when they come out.  For now, see what I thought, after the break.

Oh, and spoilers, obviously.

So it's like this: I saw the episode, and went to a Brony meet-up, and thus I had some time to think about this episode before making my comment on it.

First off, I think the best thing this episode had going for it was the chaos Discord made, and it really is Dave Polsky's forte.  It also helps that this episode isn't bad in the same way I didn't like Feeling Pinkie Keen or Over a Barrel.

That being said...  I've got mixed feelings on this one.  I feel like the execution of "reforming Discord" was pretty poorly handled.  With something like this, trying to reform who is essentially the "Big Bad" of the Friendship is Magic universe, you have to use a delicate touch, which Dave Polsky is almost incapable of doing, from what I've seen.  He doesn't mess it up spectacularly though, but he does it in a way that makes it all feel really...  awkward.  And not too believable, in my opinion.

First my biggest gripe: Celestia in this episode.  WHY IS SHE SO CALM ABOUT THIS?!  Think back to Return of Harmony, and how she acted in that episode, ESPECIALLY when she was actually talking to Discord.  It was all serious business, as in, "You MUST defeat Discord!"  The implication is that Discord is one of the worst things to ever happen to Equestria, and Celestia knows what Discord's done and must be stopped.  Here, she's all, "Oh, could you try and reform Discord, he might be useful in the future."  I was HOPING that Celestia would have some urgency, or something that she needs Discord help with, but no, it's just a "do it if you can" sort of thing.  She's treating it like it's no big deal!  WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE LIVING EMBODIMENT OF CHAOS, and need I remind you, DISHARMONY, the thing that goes AGAINST what Equestia and the elements are supposed to be about?  You could act a least SOMEWHAT serious about this situation, and TRY to make it sound like a big deal!  Hell, she just leaves, seeing a "Royal Summit" or whatever.  Um, is that REALLY so important that you can't be bothered to make sure Discord doesn't try anything?  I mean, the only reason she didn't get involved last time was because she and Luna couldn't use the elements, otherwise it would have seemed like Celestia would have taken these matters into her own hands.  I mean, yeah, she DID say if Discord DOES try something the mane 6 can just use the elements to change him back, but sheesh Lousie, why is Celestia so non-nonchalant about this whole thing?!

Oh, and another thing: apparently she cast a spell that would prevent Discord from talking the elements...  Um...  Did her magic stop Discord talking the elements before?  Am I really supposed to believe that after Discord messed with Celestia's magic was otherwise immune to Twilight's magic before, this time it's actually going to work?  GEEZ!

I believe I said this before when the synopsis was revealed, but I DID like the idea that Fluttershy would be the one to reform Discord, and Celestia seemed to know that.  She was the only one immune to Discord's mind games and had to be forced into acting different in order for Discord's "plan" to work last time.  It's funny, because most people thought Pinkie could identify with Discord more, but here it's not really brought up except with a feel giggles at Discord's antics; otherwise, Pinkie's with the rest of the mane 6 in not trusting Discord.

See, that's an aspect I felt worked really well in this episode, the fact that non of the mane 6 trust Discord and Fluttershy does, and THAT'S what turns him.  Nobody's giving him a chance, and expect the worst from him, and I honestly don't blame them for that.  Many Bronies have interpreted Discord as genuinely evil, and it's easy to see why that is, he has no sympathy for anyone, and broke apart the mane 6, not just in mind but in spirit, it really does seem beyond cruel.  On the other hand, the only reason Discord did that was so that they couldn't use the Elements of Harmony on them...  then again AGAIN, he didn't NEED to lie to them and force them to face difficult decisions and horrible fake truths to make them feel bad, he could have just brainwashed them all like he did with Fluttershy.  I think that's what most people got out of Discord, he didn't NEED to do horrible things, but did them anyway, because he got a kick out of them.  With that in mind, it's no wonder the mane 6 sans Fluttershy didn't give him a chance.  Honestly, I wouldn't have either, he just seemed like a sociopath, someone who not only can't comprehend that what he's doing is hurting others but also doesn't care in the slightest.

Which is probably why the resolution felt a bit awkward...  Fluttershy is bending over backward to make Discord feel at ease and make him trust her, and the whole time, he's playing her for a fool.  There is a moment when she calls him a friend, and he did seem taken aback by this, but I honestly don't see how this reforms him.  What's so great about having a friend?  Discord was having the time of his life and how he SUDDENLY cares about losing a supposed "friend"?  Where did this sudden conscience come from, and why does Discord suddenly care if he loses the only friend he's ever had?  I GET that he feels guilty for betraying Fluttershy's trust, and thinking that as long as she's his friend, he won't get stoned, but it feels like he doesn't understand what a friend is or why it's important.  And by the end, I STILL don't think he understands why it's important, because I certainly don't see how he benefited from it.  It's not like he's completely off the hook either, since Celestia wants Twilight and co. to keep the elements of harmony just in case (oh NOW she sounds concerned, geez).  I mean, I suppose anyone would feel guilty after someone told you they were your friend and you used that trust to betray them, but again, this is Discord.  It feels like he should be USED to this kind of backstabbing trickery...

But at the same time, I feel like it kind of makes sense why he felt this way.  Fluttershy DID give him a chance when nopony else would, she offered him many things, let him do as he pleased in her own home, and defended him when the others called him out on his shenanigans.  Perhaps it's through this that he learned what friendship is and realized how selfish he was...  I STILL feel like Discord probably wouldn't have cared either way, but then again, maybe Discord is the way he is BECAUSE nobody bothered to give him a chance.  That he did things to amuse himself BECAUSE nobody opened up to him.  I still feel like the way we got here was kind of awkwardly done, but then again, when Discord, the guy who "gagged" at the idea that "friendship is always worth fighting for", actually SAID "friendship is magic", it's going to be awkward no matter what.  Incidentally, I think THIS was the line Meghan McCarthy said was going to make "the Internet explode".

Well, with all THAT said and done, we now come to my second biggest issue with the episode.  Two words: now what?  Okay, so Discord's reformed...  What's that mean for the future?  I didn't want him to be completely reformed, because honestly, when you've got a God-like being who can change reality with the snap of his fingers on your side, what could possible stand to be a threat anymore?  It's implied that he hasn't completely given up his chaotic ways, but this still feels like Discord's going to be one of the good guys, or at least an ally now, and that's bogus.  I was okay with him not being a villain, but I don't like the idea that this guy is now a good guy, it just doesn't feel right, partially because of the aforementioned reasons of his cruel actions before, but also because stepping in and helping out the good guys just doesn't seem like Discord's style.  It just feels wrong...  and I guess that's what most Bronies were so afraid of when it came to this episode; they don't like the idea of Discord being a good guy.

I also don't like that now 3 villains have been reformed: Princess Luna, Trixie, and now Discord...  you know, I have quite a few shows I really liked, and one of the reasons I liked them was because there was a recurring antagonist.  Someone to cause trouble, should it be needed, and drive conflict in an episode.  Someone we would like the hate, but occasionally identify with.  I liked Plankton from Spongebob Squarepants, I liked Mojo Jojo from The Powerpuff Girls, I like the Ice King from Adventure Time, Hell, even the new show Gravity Falls has Lil' Gideon.  With this show, though, every characters that SEEMED like they would be a worthy recurring antagonist (who wasn't just a one-off story-specific character) turned good by the end.  With Princess Luna, it was believable, because she was good before she turned evil, but I don't like the shoehorned in "The Great and Apologetic" Trixie, and now this with Discord.  Just how many former villains will become the mane 6's friend?  It's at this point that I REALLY hope Sombra isn't truly dead or that Queen Chrysalis comes back, I REALLY want someone who can pose a constant threat to the mane 6 and have them called to action when need be.

But that's just me.

I really hope that this episode leads to some interesting storylines with Discord, because I feel something like can be fully redeemed (ironically) should it lead to something great.  I don't hate it, not do I like it, it just feels like kind of a mixed bag that I can't bring myself to fully enjoy or fully despise...  Here's hoping the writers know what they're doing with this.

PS, I liked how the original title for this episode was a shout-out to Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends! :)

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