Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Episode review: "Trade Ya!" (S4E22)

The Orthros glomps Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy
The Orthros and the pegasi in a... wait for it... dogpile
This post is a little bit late (and somewhat shorter than usual) because of my Easter break, but here I am again with another My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode review. This time, the ep under discussion is "Trade Ya!", written by Scott Sonneborn. He was making his second appearance as a writer for this show, having made his debut with the interesting but uneven "Somepony to Watch Over Me" a few weeks ago. What could he pull out of the bag this time? Only one way to find out: follow me past the break!

On the face of it, this episode is an ensemble piece, with the Mane Six and Spike all playing their parts. In reality, some of the characters get more time than others. Spike (as usual) gets the least with his comics, while Twilight and Pinkie flit in and out of the story. Pinkie is, unfortunately, somewhat back in her irritating supporting-character mode. Twilight doesn't get all that much to do, although she is the key to resolving the major problem that arises right at the end of the ep.

Applejack and Rarity are again a fun double act (and sheesh, the shipping fuel!) but it's Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash who form the best partnership in their seemingly never-ending quest for Rainbow's desperately desired Daring Do discovery. (Yay alliteration!) Their close friendship is fairly well written here, though not quite up to the level in the very best episodes. Rainbow again shows what she'll sacrifice for 'Shy. And who knew that they both had hidden depths as fast food chefs?

Rarity and Applejack get annoyed with each other
"You did too Superglue your hat on, Applejack"
There are quite a few fun references in this episode. A particularly amusing one for we older bronies is the way the lines of ponies play Frogger near the end. Not being a modern gamer, I didn't catch the Bioshock ponies until they were pointed out to me, but I did notice those Discord lamps. (How could you not?!) It was also nice to see another Greek mythological creature in the Orthros, and (a subtle one, this) that the beast stall had obviously got some of its merchandise from the Scariest Cave in Equestria!

Rainbow Falls welcomed the world: Crystal Ponies, the minor Apples and even some of the Ponyville marketplace characters turned up. There was also a pony, Stellar Eclipse, in what can only be described as a steampunk back-leg wheelchair. turned out to have been inspired (and voiced!) by a real person, and included as a result of help from the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Good for them. I do hope, though, that we'll see disabled ponies again at some point – and simply because the creators want to include them.

"Trade Ya!" was a pretty good episode, though I don't think it will rank as a classic and I certainly wouldn't place it up there with last week's installment. Possibly it had one storyline too many: for all it's good to see Spike included, his subplot didn't really go anywhere. I did think the pacing was better than in Sonneborn's first episode, and certainly Applejack was more satisfyingly characterised. This strikes me as a decent ep I might watch again, but I doubt it'll be a top-tenner when Season 4 ends.

Dash and 'Shy encounter Stellar Eclipse in the food queue
"I made it myself. Trixie took one look at the plans and fled"
Best quote: Stellar Eclipse: "No. But I'd trade it for an antique chicken."

Yays
  • The Fluttershy/Rainbow storyline was nicely done
  • Applejack and Rarity sparked off each other as usual
  • Stellar Eclipse's inclusion – and lack of special treatment
  • That Frogger reference!
Neighs
  • Spike really didn't have a lot to do
  • Pinkie Pie was a little on the annoying side once again
  • Perhaps tried to stuff in that little too much
8/10

3 comments:

  1. I think the character animation and acting sold this episode for me. It may not have had the most interesting story, but it was enjoyable and funny just seeing them.

    "Rainbow again shows what she'll sacrifice for 'Shy."
    Wasn't it more Fluttershy showing how selfless she could be for Rainbow? I don't recall Rainbow doing anything for Fluttershy, apart from the very end!

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    1. I guess it was both; I admit to having rushed this review a little, and it shows there. I was thinking mostly of Dash giving up the book she'd always wanted because she couldn't bear to be parted from Flutters for a long time.

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    2. Ah, I guess I didn't see RD's actions as being a "sacrifice" but more a "oh crap what have I done" moment. When we look at Flutters though, even if none of it actually came to pass, the fact that she gave up the whistle that she was going to trade with without complaint and was willing agree to a contract of indentured servitude (all for Dash to get a freaking book she already possessed!) is quite remarkable.

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