Monday, 18 May 2015

Episode review: S5E07: "Make New Friends but Keep Discord"

The mail pony in Discord's dimension
"No, I will not use the zip code. What's chaotic about a zip code?"
And we're back! After the seemingly rather pointless mini-hiatus, we have an episode that's been intriguing fans ever since its name was made public. This ep sees the return of Natasha Levinger to writing duties for the first time since the somewhat divisive "It Ain't Easy Being Breezies". Like that episode, this one is heavy on the Fluttershy. Unlike that episode, it's also heavy on the Discord. Past the break for the review!

The first thing to say about this episode is that it's generally a lot of fun. It (probably) doesn't have a great deal of bearing on the season as a whole, although there is one thing I think is significant that I'll pick out later, but as fillers go it's pretty solid. Certainly, this breaks the mildly worrying sequence of each ep being worse than its predecessor; give me this over "Appleoosa's Most Wanted" any day.

We've seen quite a bit of Discord's friendship with Fluttershy now, but what is new in this episode is seeing him outright jealous of the pegasus. The reason is 'Shy's New Age friend Tree Hugger, all sitar music and peace'n'love. She's an amusing character, but I don't feel she's quite strong enough to carry a starring role. It doesn't help that the IDW comics have already done this type of pony better with Wheat Grass and Flax Seed (in the wonderful Rarity micro).

The ponies and Discord at the Grand Galloping Gala
"At the Gala, I will wow them, in my Dumb and Dumber suit!"
Discord, on the other hand, has a rather good episode all round. It's interesting to see him experiencing a friendship lesson rather than the Mane Six; maybe this will become a light theme. Discord's home dimension is suitably weird (what is that thing that caught the mailstallion?) and I can believe that he'd take the reimagined Smooze to the Grand Galloping Gala, albeit partly to spite Fluttershy and her other friends.

This episode is full of gags and references, some of which hit the mark better than others. By far the best is Maud's incredible one-line put-down of Discord, but we also get one of the better realised of Pinkie's fourth-wall jokes and Discord doing the washing down. The Shining reference is very good, too, but I wasn't all that keen on the other dimension; live-action (even with puppets) doesn't fit this show.

Maud and Pinkie Pie
"He's not very good. Norite?"
I quite like the Gala. Since "The Best Night Ever", some of Canterlot's upper crust seem to have abandoned the event, much to everypony's pleasure. The Mane Six's outfits are nicely done, in particular their manestyles, which are pleasantly restrained yet clearly a change-up from their normal designs. For whatever reason, Rainbow Dash's mane particularly appeals to me. And finally we see Celestia in S5!

And then there's the Cutie Mark Crusaders. It's interesting that they're specifically referred to (if only once) as "dates", which merely points up the lack of outright romance for the Mane Six. (Not that I object to that!) But more interesting is that this is the first Gala for the CMC. Their attendance is clearly signalled to be a coming-of-age thing, which may be another hint that Cutie Mark City is at last coming into view.

Fluttershy being annoyed with Discord
Flutters may not be able to Stare Discord down, but she's got other ways!
I haven't said that much about Fluttershy herself, as she's just... Fluttershy. I'm not sure I entirely like her apparent buying into Tree Hugger's talk of auras, as 'Shy's animal caretaking has always been rooted in rationality. Still, in a world where magic is real, who's to say that auras aren't? All in all, "Make New Friends and Keep Discord" is one of the better episodes we've seen from S5, and it even gives the draconequus himself a chance to make an actual apology. Perhaps lightweight, but still fun.

Best quote: Maud Pie: "You're the most basic of jokes."

  • We discover a little more of Discord's life, past and present
  • Maud Pye, Maud Pye, burning bright
  • Fluttershy and Tree Hugger have a cute friendship
  • The further growing up of the CMC
  • Some clever gags and references
  • Good moral about "different friends for different things"
  • Fluttergiggles. Enough said
  • Maybe a few too many references
  • Tree Hugger's appeal is starting to drag by the end
  • We didn't get a Smooze song!

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