Monday, 29 August 2016

Episode review: S6E17: "Dungeons and Discords"

Discord, Spike and Big Mac at the jazz club
"Somepony stop me? Why in Equestria would I want them to do that?"
This week on My Little Pony we saw the return of Nick Confalone, last seen on the show writing the generally very well received episode "The Saddle Row Review". (Sweep.) The synopsis for this one suggested that it was going to be another light-hearted episode, but one that focused on the male characters for a change. Quite a few people (although not particularly me) had been hoping for that for a while, so after the break I'll consider what sort of a story emerged.

This is filler. Now, before you get up in arms, that's not necessarily a bad thing; almost nobody wants every episode of the show to be part of some great and portentous Arc of Doom. For filler, it's pretty good, and it's certainly entertaining. Spike, who seems to be getting a good deal of attention lately, has another decent showing, Big Mac is good fun throughout and Discord is thankfully much better than in the very sub-par "What About Discord?" from his last focus episode, back near the end of Season Five.

"Dungeons and Discords" is certainly entertaining, too. I am thrilled that Confalone made the role-playing game the guys play Ogres and Oubliettes, a direct reference to the well-remembered Neigh Anything arc of the IDW comics. (Shame Shining Armor couldn't join the fun this time, but then he has so many more responsibilities these days.) It's definitely a good decision to keep the D&D references fairly light – what would it actually have added to the story to include lots of "saving throw"-style jargon? Nowt.

The closing scene in Ogres and Oubliettes
Pinkie seems comfortable in a world rife with devastation
Still, my favourite part of the episode comes before the Mane Six even leave for Yakyakistan. (And are we going to see that, "Just for Sidekicks"/"Games Ponies Play" style?) The opening few minutes feature some excellent interaction between Fluttershy and Discord, and it's clear that 'Shy is no pushover these days; maybe learning to deal with the Lord of Chaos has helped her in itself. The Applejack-style raised eyebrow looks a bit weird on Flutters, but it's amusing, as is the brief "negative" scene. Oh, and the volcano joke is great.

When Discord becomes tired of the way the O&O game is going – especially since the jokes all seem to be at his expense, which seems a little mean of Spike & Mac towards a reluctant newcomer – he ramps things up several notches. Here we see a few reminders of just how unpredictable and dangerous Discord once was, and indeed still can be if he puts his mind to it. Presumably he never actually intended for those arrows to hit, given the 17 die roll, but you can't be quite certain – and that's as it should be for the character.

The "jazz club" interlude is nicely done, and of course Discord's outfit is a clear reference to The Mask. A subtler shout-out, which I didn't notice until a few people pointed it out, is that one of the ponies in the club is modelled on Josephine Baker. Naturally, she has bananas for her cutie mark! I wouldn't be at all surprised if we see a slew of fanfics covering what would have happened if Spike and Big Mac had agreed to stick around there for a while; it seems a fertile setting for all sorts of adventures.

Negative Fluttershy has some harsh words for Negative Discord
But wouldn't Negative Discord be terribly calm and ordered?
My main concern about "Dungeons and Discords" is that it doesn't really feel all that Pony. It's more a "cartoon hijinks" episode that happens to star MLP characters, and (that opening scene aside) it generally feels rather shallow, more so than "The Saddle Row Review" did. There's plenty of fun here, but perhaps not quite enough of the heart the show always has at its best for this to be an episode I could truly love. I expect I'll watch it again, but I probably won't be glued to every second of it. As I said at the start, it's good filler.

Best quote: Big Mac: "Parsnips."

  • Ogres and Oubliettes!
  • Discord feels like Discord
  • Excellent Fluttershy early on
  • Good fun, with some nice references
  • Feels somewhat out of place in this show
  • A little on the fragmented side
  • That "Guys' Night" dance gets old quickly


  1. You're right, that is the best quote. :)

    And I'm surprised the fandom hasn't been flooded with Opposite Fluttershy stuff yet. I was sure that would be the big meme from this one.

    1. I suppose that was pretty much covered back in "The Return of Harmony". I wasn't around then, but there seem to be a lot of "YOUR FACE!" clips in older PMVs etc.