Sunday, 20 January 2013

Review: "Keep Calm and Flutter On" (S3E10)

Fluttershy tries to use The Stare on Discord
Fluttershy fails to read the title of the episode...
Fluttershy is Best Pony, as everyone knows, so it's great that we finally got an episode with her at the centre. This one was written by Dave Polsky, who has a mixed record in my book, ranging from the infuriating "Feeling Pinkie Keen" to the amusing "Too Many Pinkie Pies". The underlying story, however, came from a new name to MLP:FiM, Teddy Antonio. It's hard to tell who did what, but it'll be interesting to see whether he becomes a regular. Join me after the jump for the full review.



The writers obviously wanted this episode to be a fan favourite, since they also brought back Discord. The series' most popular villain cut a slightly diminished figure this time round, however, with his chaos and tricks being on a considerably smaller scale than we saw in "The Return of Harmony" back at the start of Season 2. You do have to wonder, given his "...most of the time" aside at the end, whether he was underplaying his strength deliberately...

Discord's one-of-a-kind table lamp
Hasbro? Get on this. Now.
Fluttershy herself was fantastic in this episode, with actual depth to her character. It's always been there, right back to Season 1 days, but too often recently she's been reduced to a caricature. This time around, we saw her as a more complex, thoughtful pony, who has more strings to her bow than just being kind and timid. Mind you, I did think early on that she was going to repeat her "Return of Harmony" trick and infuriate Discord by refusing to rise to his antics. Not quite...

Rainbow Dash was the most prominent of the supporting cast, fittingly for a Fluttershy episode. The two of them had some great interaction, starting off with "You go, Fluttershy!" and taking a turn for the worse at the dinner party. That, incidentally, was the best sequence in the episode, and would have been even without the very obvious allusions to Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Fluttershy did something we've rarely seen: she stood up to her friends in an argument, and won the day because of it.

Rainbow isn't impressed with the dancing candles
Rainbow Dash, meet Rainbow Dash
As far as the rest of the Mane Six went, Rarity did little to improve her standing with me by being clearly audible mumbling that Fluttershy was "silly" and "gullible". This coming from the pony whose brain practically fused when she discovered the existence of crystal ponies. Applejack's travails with the beavers were mildly amusing, but Pinkie Pie seemed strangely subdued after her "Not a single dollop!" rant at Discord. Twilight seemed more annoyed at Celestia than anyone else.

So, what of Discord himself? Well, as I said earlier, his powers seemed to have leaked away a bit since last time, perhaps because he knew that Twilight's increasing power would have let her turn him to stone with ease. He mostly contented himself with making quips and tormenting Angel, something which doubtless will have gone down well with most of the fandom! My favourite Discord moment was the eye-rolling scene; I didn't see it coming at all, though that was probably rather thick of me.

Fluttershy holds hooves/paws with Discord
Eeping in the middle of a summer afternoon
Of course, the Elements of Harmony made their expected return, and it was nice to actually see them in realty again after the red herring of "A Canterlot Wedding". Celestia showed how strange she looks from the front, and we had a quick cameo from the other Apples. The early "Mr Beaverton Beaverteeth" scene went on a little too long, which was a shame because the very end of the episode seemed rushed. On the plus side, we ended with Discord saying "Friendship is magic", which certainly got a smile!

In summary: this was by far Fluttershy's best episode of the season so far, although that frankly isn't saying a great deal. Dave Polsky again showed his skill at writing for this difficult character. I enjoyed "Keep Calm and Flutter On" a lot, and might even have given it 9/10 had it not been for its biggest fault: a rushed ending. I think it could have been tweaked without changing the episode's overall running time. Nevertheless, it's one I'll be watching again and for obvious reasons it scores well with me!
8/10

2 comments:

  1. And a thousand Discord fanfics were shattered that day...
    Good episode though, agree that we got some much better Flutters characterisation than we've had so far. Was also really interesting to see Twilight disagree so vehemently with Celestia, as well as Celestia's expression in that final shot - she's really not certain she's doing the right thing, I suspect. Hopefully foreshadowing of something epic!!

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    1. Good point about Twilight yelling at Celestia; even with the hasty "...Your Majesty" at the end it's still not something I think she'd have done a couple of seasons ago.

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