Monday, 16 November 2015

Episode review: S5E23: "The Hooffields and the McColts"

Fluttershy says goodbye to her furry friends
Look, this is my blog. I can put a picture of Fluttershy here because I want to.
(Posting slightly early because Blogger doesn't want to let me schedule this.)

Only two more regular episodes remain in S5 before the finale, so inevitably the thoughts of the My Little Pony fandom are starting to turn in that direction now. Still, I was pleased when it was announced that this one had been written by Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songko, the team behind the excellent "Rarity Investigates!" and the also enjoyable "Castle Sweet Castle". Two episodes: two four-star ratings. Could they make it a hat-trick? Let's see!

Not quite. "The Hooffields and the McColts" is a decent enough episode, but it doesn't quite match up to those two. The basic story is inspired by the real-life Hatfield-McCoy feud in the late 19th century. I was only hazily aware of that before this episode's synopsis was announced, but I assumed (rightly) that the violence of the American original would be toned down considerably and made a bit more humorous for the Equestrian equivalent.

The best thing about this episode is Fluttershy – enough so that she gets a tag. (Okay, I don't need much encouragement to give Best Pony a tag.) These writers wrote her pretty well in "Castle Sweet Castle" (and I'd love to see them handle FlutterDash friendshipping one day), so it wasn't a huge surprise that 'Shy was written well here. It was wonderful to have an episode where she was consistently portrayed as shy and timid, but not terrified of the slightest thing.

Ma Hooffield explains her latest plan
"And I do so have more teeth than that pesky Granny Smith"
Admittedly, Flutters is a bit of a... well, bit in the episode. Twilight certainly takes centre stage, from her semi-freakout over the multi-pony freeze spell to her notably confident use of the "I'm a princess, y'know" gambit. As several people have pointed out, she also seems a tiny bit lazy: why bother with the balloon when, for the only time in a Cutie Map episode, both ponies have wings? Toy sales, maybe.

I don't find the hillbilly ponies particularly interesting: they do what's required of them for the simple story to work. (As an aside, all three of these writers' stories have had fairly simple plots even by Pony standards. Certain other writers could learn from that.) Firing pumpkins and pebbles at each other just doesn't seem very interesting, though at least it allows Fluttershy to shoehorn in that "Think of the animals!" resolution.

Let's face it, the truce we see at the end is probably going to last about three days, and I'm being optimistic here. This is a location the show's never visited before and will probably never visit again – otherwise there'd be a railway to it – so that doesn't really matter. All in all, a slightly superior filler episode. Better than last week's disappointing outing, but no classic. Except for the opening scene at Fluttershy's Furry Friends Book Club, which is amazing.
Twilight's friendship equation
"And so both hillbilly families gain disembodied heads. It's the perfect plan!"
Best quote: Fluttershy: "Yay!" (Come on, what did you expect?)

  • Fluttershy being adorable. Need I say more?
  • Twilight is more relatable this time round
  • The Trojan Carrot Cake – predictable but fun
  • Obvious map-related foreshadowing at the end
  • The hillbilly ponies are not exactly memorable
  • Feels like what it is: a (goodish) late-season filler
  • The episode's moral is a bit on the forced side


  1. I found this to be a very average episode in my opinion. I did notice a interesting animation mistake, when Twilight and Fluttershy first take to air when they arrive at their destination, Twilight's wings are normal Pegasus wings rather than her princess style ones.

    1. It was a two/three boundary episode for me, but Fluttershy. I so much want to be a member of that book club! :P

      Also, good spot. I seem to remember they made the same error during Twi's brief appearance in "Crusaders of the Lost Mark".

    2. This one actually surpassed my expectations. Those expectations were admittedly pretty low, but while the plot didn't wow me here, it did have some funny moments and some good character interactions.

      Since I'm from Kentucky, I don't have a whole lot of patience for hillbillies in media. They tell this same story over and over and over, and there wasn't a whole lot of variation here that they didn't have the millions of other times I've seen it. However, that's more of a ME problem than a show problem. They are writing for kids who haven't seen it a million times, so that's fine. It could be more creative, but I can't really fault them too much. People have been going to that well for decades.

      I gotta say that Fluttershy "helping the tortoise along" was the best thing. I actually laughed out loud at that.

    3. They are writing for kids who haven't seen it a million times

      In that sense, I suppose I was closer to the target audience than usual. The story behind the real-life feud isn't unknown in the UK, but you certainly couldn't count on many people knowing about it. Quite a few people over here had to look up why the episode had the title it did.

      I gotta say that Fluttershy "helping the tortoise along" was the best thing.

      Oh, that was wonderful. I did wonder briefly whether Tank might get a mention, but never mind.