- Season Number: 3
- Season Episode Number: 10
- Overall Episode Number: 62
- Original Airdate: January 19, 2013
- Written By: Dave Polsky / Story By: Teddy Antonio
- Storyboard By: Lih Liau & Marshall Fels Elliot
All after the page break.
Other Media Reviews:
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- The Outhousers Review
- The Round Stable Review
Review by Ryan C
The three week hiatus is finally over. After twenty-one agonizing days of having “Spike At Your Service” as the only thing to discuss (informative pieces about My Little Pony fans notwithstanding), we finally have another episode gracing our airwaves on a Saturday morning. Oh, wait… it’s a Fluttershy episode? And Discord is returning? And it has a title referencing World War II propaganda posters that are experiencing a memetic resurgence? I thought to myself, “Well that’s a recipe for disaster if I’ve ever seen one,” and it’s been a long time since I’ve been so happy to be so wrong.
“Keep Calm and Flutter On” is the aptly-named tenth episode of season three of “Friendship is Magic”. It was written by Dave Polsky, whose other notable writing credits include “Too Many Pinkie Pies” (my personal favorite of the season so far), “Over A Barrel”, and “Feeling Pinkie Keen”.
This episode from the get-go stands out as an interesting one both in title and in premise. Princess Celestia brings Discord, still encased in stone, back to Ponyville, tasking Twilight and the rest of her friends with reforming him to use his magic for “good”. I use quotations around “good” because we’re never told explicitly what Celestia plans for him to do. Twilight, being the faithful student that she is, agrees to undertake the ordeal. Celestia, however, has something else in mind. She specifically singles out Fluttershy for the job, stating that she knows that she is the only one who truly knows how to turn Discord to good. Fluttershy is daunted, but understanding, and accepts the challenge.
Celestia’s choice of Fluttershy is understandable. Go back in time, if you will, to the beginning of season two. Fluttershy is nigh-incorruptible by Discord’s taunting and coercion in the hedge maze, and only a magical touch (read: cheating) is able to turn Fluttershy from her normal peaceful demeanor into a cold-hearted bully. To her credit, Fluttershy in “Keep Calm” seems entirely willing and even unafraid of Discord as she goes about attempting to reform him. Her actions in the episode are very indicative of her growth as a character from the helpless and timid pony she was in the beginning of the series to the capable and brave pony that she is now. She even has a plan: Try to befriend Discord to turn him to good, as unlikely as that may be.
Discord, being Discord, immediately begins to wreak havoc on Ponyville as soon as he is unfrozen from the stone with the Mane 6’s Elements of Harmony. At the threat of being frozen again, however, he agrees to allow Fluttershy to work her wiles on him, although he and seemingly everypony else are fully aware that there would be no way she would ever be able to reform him. Discord constantly challenges Fluttershy’s attempts at being kind with his off-the-wall antics and deceptive magic. These pranks tend to wear out their welcome fast, though, and it eventually becomes almost tiring to see Discord acting naughty and feigning ignorance time and again.
Fluttershy, throughout the episode, keeps cutting Discord slack every time he steps out of line, much to the dismay of her friends. As she puts it, though, none of them are even giving Discord a chance. True enough, the rest of her friends, especially Rainbow Dash, refuse to give Discord the benefit of the doubt for any mishaps that happen around the town while he’s bunking with Fluttershy. It’s not as if the mistrust is undeserved, of course. It also doesn’t help that everything DOES actually turn out to be his fault, either. However, Fluttershy is also right in that she is very literally the only pony who is even attempting to reform Discord.
Fluttershy seems very different than we’ve seen her before. Not in her timidness, or her naivety, but in that she has a plan. In essence, this is the first time we’ve really seen Fluttershy carrying her own weight (and more!) without the help of her friends. In fact, SHE is the one pushing her own plans forward, when her friends are telling her to stop. She realizes that, in order to turn the Master of Chaos, a literal malevolent god, to the side of righteousness, she must make him choose it on his own. That she understands this and undertakes the challenge anyway speaks volumes about the character that Fluttershy has become from her humble beginnings in the series.
Sure enough, when Fluttershy finally loses her patience with him after his continued havoc-wreaking, Discord snaps back down to earth and comes to the realization that his actions are about to cause him to lose the only friend he has ever had. He himself had to say it out loud to realize just what he was doing and result sobered the God of Chaos into stopping dead in his tracks. He was humbled by the sight of a small yellow pegasus who was no longer his friend walking away from him. The true weight of just what exactly Fluttershy’s friendship meant to him didn’t hit him until the end.
Fluttershy was working her plan the entire episode. She wasn’t foolish enough to think that Discord would reform just because she asked him nicely. She planted the idea of friendship in his head so that eventually he would come to the realization himself. She knew she couldn’t FORCE him to be good – he had to do it on his own. Fluttershy had herself together the entire episode, and everything she was working at finally came to fruition at the very end, when it seemed like nothing could stop him from changing from what he once was.
Never before in the history of the series has there been such a well-written and cohesive story that weaves the actual moral so tightly together with the plot. It’s not perfect, but the strengths of the episode far outweigh its small list of negatives. In an episode that could have turned out to be a disaster, DHX and Polsky have managed to create a fantastic story with believable character advancement while still keeping the light-hearted themes of the show intact. Despite all doubts and fears, Fluttershy stays true to her inner kindness to win the day and turn a former villain into an ally for good. It has been a long time since the phrase “Friendship is Magic” has been so appropriate for this show, and I very much doubt it will be again.
Well played, Fluttershy. Well played.
Review by Wonderwing
So, Discord’s back, huh? I’m not going to lie, I was pretty psyched for this episode and once I heard about it I felt so much joy! Well, how come I don’t feel so much joy after watching it? The beginning of the episode had the usual funny jokes, Discord’s stone statue being brought in from Celestia and her guards, and Twilight yelling at Celestia as well, it’s all good. Once they get Applejack and Fluttershy into the loop of things, they were missing earlier due to some beaver problems on Sweet Apple Acres, Celestia puts Fluttershy in charge of reforming Discord to use his magic for good and not evil, again, all good so far. Once they free him using the Elements of Harmony, we get to hear John de Lancie’s glorious voice once again! We also get back to Discord’s usual “screwing with reality” antics.
You know what, rather than tiredly describing the episode you’ve all seen, I’ll just point out what went wrong with this episode while also adding in the high points. I’ll be going with this format for future reviews from now on.
Anyway, let’s talk about the biggest problem with this episode, the story went by too quick, and when I mean story, I mean the reformation process on Discord. I’m not going to get to upset though, as I don’t understand the implications it takes to fitting all these events into a half hour cartoon, but I still think Discord’s transformation from evil to good could’ve gone more smoother. Also, I felt the way they reformed Discord was pretty cliched. Couldn’t they have the ponies, well Fluttershy, show Discord the benefits of being good or some shit like that? Better yet, Discord could’ve disobeyed Fluttershy to the point were he makes her cry and realizes that she failed, only to have Discord feel terrible for his actions and reform to good and still keep the friendship aspect within. Some of you might think my suggestions are cliche as well, and I’m sure they are, but they’re still less cliched than the original plot.
Besides that one major problem, I think the rest of the episode was fine. The jokes were funny, Discord was awesome once again, and the ending was pretty funny with Discord’s “friendship is magic” line. Overall, the episode would’ve still gotten a lower score in my book even without the horrible reformation plot, I just didn’t find as awesome I hoped for, they had so much potential for this one. Here’s hoping the next three episodes go smoothly.