Monday, 3 March 2014

Episode review: "It Ain't Easy Being Breezies" (S4E16)

Fluttershy with Breezies in her mane
Talk about eye candy!
Ooh, what do you know, another Fluttersode! It's rather hard on the heels of the last one, but I suppose it's not the first time that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has done such a thing: in Season 2, "Putting Your Hoof Down" and the legendary "Hurricane Fluttershy" were only three episodes apart. This time around, we have Natasha Levinger on writing duties. She produced an outstanding debut in "Pinkie Apple Pie", so if she could come anywhere near that then we were going to be in for a treat. After the break, you'll find out what I thought.

This turned out to be an episode full of surprises. For a start, there was the moral. I've hoped for quite a while that this show would address the fact that sometimes you have to learn how to say goodbye – but I wasn't expecting it to happen here. Fluttershy really has grown as a character since S1, albeit in rather subtler ways than some of her friends. She realised, in her "key" moment, that being kind isn't always the same as being nice, and that sometimes you really do have to be firm to help others.

Sea Breeze complaining to Fluttershy
Sea Breeze in one of his better moods
Then there were the much anticipated Breezies themselves. They turned out to be a far cry from the simperingly sweet G3-alikes many people thought they might. In particular their leader, Sea Breeze, was quite a complex character. He was an absolute pain at times, but he had a real reason to be so upset as we saw later on: he was genuinely scared that the portal to the Breezies' world would close and that he'd lose contact with his family. Their "Swedish chef" accents, though, were... interesting!

Talking of which, that was quite a bit of world-building! In "Three's a Crowd", the mention of Fluttershy going off to see the Breezies led me to believe that they simply lived in a far-off part of Equestria. Instead, it seems that they only come into Equestria at all for pollen-collecting season, and that they live in a quite different magical world all their own. Unless you count Maretropolis, and I suppose the (unseen) Tartarus back in S2, this is the first time we've actually travelled to a completely different world in FiM.

The Mane Six (sans Flutters) as Breezies
Rarity can maintain her false eyelashes even as a Breezie!
There were some funny little touches in this episode. The cold open was pretty much a repeat of "Sonic Rainboom" but done in reverse. Fluttershy's "yay" at the end was so perfect. The Breezie saxophone was amusing, and the Doctor (with 3D glasses!) and Rose was a blatant but funny reference. No more of those for a bit, though, eh? It was also nice to see a couple of the athletic Pegasi back, in the form of Flitter and Thunderlane. They didn't do a lot, but never mind.

This wasn't a perfect episode: the biggest problem was the suspiciously convenient way in which Twilight just happened to have learnt a new spell that just happened to be the one they needed at that very moment. It was reminiscent of the clunky scene in "A Dog and Pony Show" wherein Twi realises, prompted by Spike, that she can copy Rarity's gem-finding spell. Still, at least this time round we got a payoff, in the shape of the Mane Six as Breezies! Toyetic? Absolutely: the toys already exist. But so what?

Doctor Whooves and Roseluck
It's somehow worrying that this is a reference to an episode called "Doomsday"
I also felt that there was rather too much exposition at times. That was particularly the case at the start of the episode, though I'm not someone who sees "Show, don't tell" as an inflexible law so it's not a huge problem. The scene with the bees also seemed slightly off: suddenly producing a huge costume out of nowhere is Pinkie territory, surely. This was nevertheless still an enjoyable episode: not as good as Levinger's debut or Fluttershy's last, but I suspect it will grow with rewatching.

Best quote: Rainbow Dash: "So, uh, I've always kind of wondered what it would be like to be a griffon." Twilight: "Not a chance!"

Yays
  • A surprisingly deep and complex moral
  • Sea Breeze's multi-faceted personality
  • World-building reinforcing that this is a fantasy world
  • Rainbow Dash begging to be a griffon
  • "Sonic Rainboom" in reverse during the cold open
  • The Doctor/Rose reference: fun if a bit blatant
Neighs
  • The way-too-convenient spell Twilight used
  • A little too much exposition at the start
  • Rather blatant background pony reuse in the crowd
7.5/10

2 comments:

  1. I'm probably going completely "against the grain" saying this, but I really didn't like this particular episode much at all. I'm not really sure why. With "Power Ponies" I knew exactly why I disliked that one, but although I didn't think this one was terrible by any means, it just didn't seem to do anything for me. Perhaps it's because the Breezies just didn't really capture my imagination much, and it seemed as though not all that much happened for most of the episode. I don't know... And though it may be a heinous crime to say it, that ending with the transformation spell just didn't work at all for me.

    I think another part of the problem is something you've mentioned in quite a few reviews - the way that in most of the S4 episodes, Pinkie has been pretty much sidelined to "the mad one who just spouts a silly quote now and again." It was mildly annoying in the earlier episodes, but now it's starting to become very frustrating, and of course it happened again in this episode. Maybe that's less effecting to those who don't have Pinkie as their favourite pony. But imagine if pretty much *every* episode had featured Fluttershy as a cowering wimpy character who spent the whole time barely speaking above a whisper. You'd be thinking "but she's so much, much more than that!" So the fact that Pinkie has been relegated to more or less just "she's mad" is starting to get more than a bit frustrating now.

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    1. I think you're in a minority, but it's not a tiny minority. I read just about all the opinions people posted on UK of E, and there were certainly a few who felt this was a very "meh" episode that didn't do anything much for them. That included the odd Fluttershy fan, which surprised me. For myself, the transformation spell was way, way too convenient, but I couldn't really object too much to it happening at all -- even in S1, Twi could give Rarity wings, so I can believe that she's now powerful enough to do this.

      But imagine if pretty much *every* episode had featured Fluttershy as a cowering wimpy character who spent the whole time barely speaking above a whisper.

      Fillies and gentlecolts, allow me to present to you... MLP:FiM season 3. As you may recall, I was *really* disappointed with Fluttershy's portrayal in a lot of the S3 episodes -- "Magic Duel" showed *her* being flanderised into either terrified or terrifying, and it's one reason I'm not very fond of that episode. The main exception was when she was actually the focus of an ep: "Keep Calm and Flutter On" had its problems, but Fluttershy was so much better in that than in much of the rest of S3.

      Season 4 seems to be doing to Pinkie what S3 did to Fluttershy: where she's at the centre of things (eg "Pinkie Apple Pie" and "Pinkie Pride") she's very nicely portrayed, but when she's a bit-part character she's just being used as comic relief. I don't really have an explanation, especially as "Breezies" was written by the *same* writer who did "Pinkie Apple Pie" -- but Fluttershy's writing has improved out of all recognition in S4, so with luck Pinkie's will do the same in due course.

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