Monday, 9 November 2015

Episode review: S5E22: "What About Discord?"

Fluttershy is an orange
I can't help thinking of "Too Many Pinkie Pies" here...
I've been reading InquisitorM's long and interesting Fimfiction blog post on Fluttershy's psychological makeup, and I recommend you do the same. It reminds me that I've wanted to do my own post about how I see (and indeed write) Fluttershy for ages and ages now, but been too lazy to make it happen. I'll probably get it done eventually, but don't hold your breath.

All right, episode review time. This week's My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was written by Neal Dusedau, which did leave me a little apprehensive, since he was responsible for the teleplay of the pretty uninspired "Princess Spike". Still, plenty of writers have written a clunker and then a great episode, so let's see whether "What About Discord?" can live up to its promising title – and a brief preview clip that promised a lot of fun.

No, not really. This, as you will have noticed, is a very short review. The reason for that, I'm afraid, is that not a lot actually happens. That's right: we now have proof that a Discord episode can be boring. It feels like a fanfic, actually, in that there's one central idea stretched to breaking point. That sort of thing often works in fanfic, and indeed it can work on screen (see "Applebuck Season"), but I found my attention wandering this time even before the end of my first viewing.

Twilight and Spike prepare to reshelve the library
"And that orange book is the one you're going to get for me, Spike"
There are some nice touches in here, admittedly. Twilight remains the lovable book-nerd she should be; I can absolutely believe her spending three solid days reshelving books just because she likes it. Discord's little comment about there still being the "old Discord" inside him rings true, too. The ending sees Discord get his come-uppance – though not the other ponies (more on that in a minute). And the Bob Ross joke is fairly amusing, though not to the extent that much of the fandom seems to think.

Twilight's friends behave like jerks to her almost throughout the episode. We're told that she's jealous, but to my mind, a much better word would be "excluded". The other ponies repeatedly giggle over in-jokes right in front of their one close friend who wasn't there. I've been in Twilight's position in the past, and it's a horrible experience. It's borderline cruelty, and I'm especially disappointed in Fluttershy going along with it, even considering Discord's involvement.

And... that's about it, really. After the first few minutes, this episode bores me to an extent unmatched since, ooh, probably "Owl's Well That Ends Well" right back in season one. I really don't see myself going back to this when I want a quick pony fix. Now, "Owl's Well" was written by Cindy Morrow, who went on to create "Read It and Weep" and "Hurricane Fluttershy", so Neal Dusedau may well produce a great Pony episode in the future. This is not that episode.

Even if we do get another tiny glimpse of Starlight Glimmer...

Twilight winks as she offers round potions
If only Twi had really cracked up, this would have been so much better
Best quote: Applejack: "What kind of fertiliser have you had your nose in, Twilight?"

  • Discord eventually does have the tables turned
  • Twilight's book obsession is always funny
  • Twilight's friends treat her really badly
  • The episode is one joke stretched out way too long
  • As a whole, the episode is just... dull


  1. I remember when Discord was one of my favorite characters. Now I dread when he shows up. The last time he was truly great to me with the season four premiere. Three's A Crowd was okay, but not one of my favorites. Everything else has been tiresome for me. At least this one wasn't "Discord acts like a child regardless of the fact that he's at least a thousand years old."

    I loved that Twilight felt like Twilight again for some of the episode, though, especially at the beginning. I miss the nervous, nerdy Twilight. Bland, boring, princess-y Twilight is just not engaging.

    I think my main issue with this episode is that Twilight's rationale makes little sense to me. She's trying to say she can't be jealous because she's the Princess of Friendship? Friends never get jealous of one another? How would she be the Princess of Friendship of she couldn't help two friends deal with a jealously issue? If fact, we just HAD a jealously issue episode... WITH DISCORD! It's frustrating to sit through an episode and have to think, "Geez, Twilight, are you really not able to figure this out?"

    1. Twilight still feels like the same Twilight to me.

    2. That pre-credits scene is easily my favourite in the entire episode, for much the reasons you mention. I think one thing I like about S5 is that they've tried to restore some of what makes the ponies who they are. I certainly think Pinkie's been written much better this season than in (most of) S4.

      I actually quite like "Make New Friends But Keep Discord", but not particularly because of him. Sacrilege it may be to say this, but I wouldn't be heartbroken if John de Lancie wasn't available for a little while and the character had to take a bit of a break.

    3. Make New Friends was fun, but I've been sick of Discord pretty much since season 3. <.< This would be wonderful if it happened.

  2. Another flop, and with Twilight's friends acting like JERKS to her?? What the buck (to be clean)??

    I'm willing to bet fans who hated MMDW (which I actually like) and complained the scene in Canterlot Wedding where they didn't listen to Twilight (but were fooled by Chrysalis so it was understandable) will take back what they said after seeing this...this sounds more like the black sheep of FiM rather than the former.

    Sounds more like a ★ to me.

    1. I'm not a fan of "MMDW", though I don't hate it as much as many fans do.

      As for this episode, calling it "another flop" is harsh -- it's the first time in six episodes I've rated something below three stars. I've found S5 to be pretty good overall.

      Also, I really hope you're watching these now, hint hint. There's a lot of visual humour this season that you can't really appreciate from transcripts and still images. :P

  3. @Logan

    I'm still trying to find time to watch this (but I have glimpsed at clips of the show), but I've been so busy I'm having trouble and it tends to be frustrating.