Monday, 2 November 2015

Episode review: S5E21: "Scare Master"

Pinkie and Fluttershy with goodie bag
"Pinkie, when you said it was 'full of Fluttershy goodness'..."
With a title like that, there's only one pony that Natasha Levinger's episode could possibly focus on. Fluttershy eps have a bit of a mixed reputation, with some of them (eg "Hurricane Fluttershy") being brilliant but some (eg "Putting Your Hoof Down") being rather less so. On top of that, this is the episode that was released in error six weeks ago, so many people will have seen it long since. Thankfully, nothing seriously spoilery for intervening episodes happened – though it could have been very different! Let's see how this one went...

I found this one to be somewhere in the middle as far as Fluttersodes go. It has some very nice touches, in particular the moral at the end. For all that people complain that 'Shy doesn't develop, I think that's wrong: would S1 Flutters have been so clear about the fact that she wasn't going to start doing the same thing as her friends just to fit in? She's not even doing the "baby steps" thing this time around: Nightmare Night's just not her cup of tea.

On the downside, I'm not at all impressed with certain ponies. Rainbow Dash, on the evidence of both this and "Luna Eclipsed", seems to dial up her Jerk Mode setting for Nightmare Night. She isn't quite as unpleasant to Fluttershy as she was back in "Dragonshy", but there are echoes of it. Not cool, Dashie. And Granny Smith is immensely insensitive at times, too: she's known 'Shy long enough to realise when to stop. Big Mac is rightly unimpressed.

That horse head again
The Legend of the Headed Horse is true!
This does feel like what it is: a late-season regular episode, aired at a time when thoughts are starting to turn toward the S5 finale. There are no existential threats to Equestria to battle against, and nothing on the scale of the CMC's achievement of three weeks ago. (On which note, it's really lucky that they were all wearing costumes that covered their cutie marks, otherwise this could have been the most embarrassing early release ever.)

There are some fun touches in here, though I think really do feel it's time to give Flutterbat a rest for a while. As is common with Hallowe'en episodes, the team seem to have been allowed to push the boundaries a little more than usual: I'm not sure that "Granny's" head falling off would have passed for a normal episode. My own favourite here is the briefly-glimpsed Twilight costume Derpy had – so she's also (sort of) a princess at last!

The costumes the Mane Six wore are amusing. I'm not entirely sure why most of them chose what they did (other than for Rarity to smack Fluttershy in the face a few times...) but they do the job. Applejack's Wizard of Oz-like lion costume is by far the cutest of them, with Pinkie's rollermare probably the most striking. Interesting that it's Twilight, and not Rainbow Dash, who gets to be a soldier this time! Also interesting that astronauts are apparently a thing in Equestria. To the Moooooon? ;)

The ponies are scared as they enter the maze
"It's... it's the House of Pony Fanfics!"
Fluttershy's "spooky tea party" is rather played for laughs, but actually it is rather disturbing. She clearly does know what gets under the skin of each of her friends, and on a "psychological horror" level there's a case for calling this scene the creepiest in the episode. One thing I don't like about this scene is the brief glimpse we get of 'Shy's anime-inspired drawings. Why? Because we're now going to get a billion terrible "Otaku Fluttershy" fanfics. :(

A few more things to pick out from this rather low-stakes episode: Scootaloo's Wonderbolts outfit is the best of the CMC's costumes. Flutterbat's own ensures that we never see whether her cutie mark changes to three bats. I believe this is the first time that Harry the bear is named in an actual episode (he was mentioned in a Hub Hot Minute ages ago.) And no Luna is an interesting choice for a Nightmare Night episode. All in all? No classic, but worth a watch.

Best quote: Fluttershy (spookily): "Welcome to Fluttershy's tea party!"

  • An excellent closing scene and a good moral
  • Fluttershy's psychological horror at her tea party
  • Some inventive stuff with the scary scenes
  • Derpy's Twilight costume!
  • Rainbow Dash was often, really, a bit of a jerk
  • Granny Smith was sometimes a bit of a jerk, too
  • Fluttershy seems excessively scared of minor things by S5 standards
  • Those blasted anime references will be everywhere now


  1. My favorite costume? Spike's. Yes, he's more or less dressed as himself again, which is funny on its own, but the two-head thing is really creative.

    1. It reminded me immensely of Zaphod Beeblebrox, actually. Specifically the version from the BBC TV production, whose second head was about as high quality as Spike's. :P