This was another one of those episodes where I went in totally blind. I had no idea what this would be about until I saw it, so I was surprised (but certainly not disappointed) to see Discord making another appearance. I figured we wouldn’t be seeing him again for a while!
But before he shows up, we get a very cute opening with Twilight flipping out – in that lovably adorkable Twilight way – that Cadance accepted her invitation to come and see her, which will be their first opportunity in some time to just spend quality time together without something stressful going on (Rarity sums it up nicely, with the usual Tabitha St. Germain-provided panache: “The fate of Equestria has hung in the balance during most of your visits with her.”).
Fluttershy is sent off on a trip to go see “the Breezies” (foreshadowing?!), which of course is mainly to get her out of the way since she’s the one pony who can really deal with Discord effectively without having her life turned inside-out in the process (or maybe not… more on that in a minute).
Then, moments later, Cadance shows up, in a train being pulled by this frickin’ sweet Crystal Empire custom locomotive.
So she and Twilight head off, intending to have a nice relaxed time at the Starswirl the Bearded Traveling Museum (lol).
I gotta say, Twilight really had the adorkable meter cranked up to eleven in this episode!
Not long after they leave, trouble appears. The entire sequence that starts when Discord shows up and ends when the scene cuts to Twi and Cadance was absolutely hilarious. I was in stitches the whole time Discord was picking at the mane 6, all the while making streetlamps tip their hat and houses float away every time he sneezed.
Of course, despite his assurances that all he wants is someone to take care of him while he’s sick, the mane 6 are (understandably) dubious. While he hasn’t done anything truly nefarious since the events of “Keep Calm and Flutter On”, every member of the mane 6 not named Fluttershy still doesn’t exactly trust him, either.
When Discord asks for a fainting couch, naturally, the others all look to an adorably and indignantly confused Rarity.
Finally, when Discord decides a group hug is in order, Dashie just can’t take it anymore, and takes off; Pinkie is distracted by a balloon, and AJ and Rarity are given Discord’s “virus”, leaving him free to go annoy Twilight and Cadance.
Really, there is just way more hilarity in this whole section than I could possibly articulate or take screencaps of, especially with the plethora of absolutely amazing facial expressions made by the mane 6 throughout, so we’ll just say it was fantastic and move on.
One last thing from this part, though, that I found interesting. After Dash makes her escape, Pinkie just bounces right up to Discord, declaring that she’ll take care of the whole situation. Discord promptly takes advantage of the pink pony’s short attention span, floating a red balloon in from out of nowhere to distract her, before turning his attention to the last two members of the mane 6. And I think the reason for this is because he knew that if any pony aside from Fluttershy had a shot at seeing through his ruse, it’d be Pinkie Pie, because she’s… well, she’s Pinkie Pie. She’s random and unpredictable, she seems to have some form of chaotic reality altering power (which, when you think about it, is what his power is – the main differences between the supernatural abilities of Discord and Pinkie Pie are control and magnitude), and she’s shown that she is often able to just be aware of things she really shouldn’t be. Hell, it’s entirely possible that she knew right from the get-go that Discord wasn’t really sick, but was playing along because she wanted to see what his game was, and sensed that in this instance, he’s not here to cause actual harm. (Which, to be fair, he isn’t, not really. Extreme levels of annoyance and life-disruption, yes, but not harm.) So, before she has a chance to clue the others in in some fashion or get a closer look at him, off she goes. Of course, this is all just my personal theory, but it’s something to ponder.
It’s certainly been a while since we saw Princess Cadance. Way back when “A Canterlot Wedding” first aired, I wasn’t a big fan of this character, mainly because of the way that both she and Shining Armor just showed up out of nowhere, were retconned into the world, and then proceeded to upstage everyone. I’ve since softened on that, and enjoy the episode more than I did initially, even though I still feel there was some awkwardness on that point, but more significantly, I’ve come around on the characters themselves. Once I dealt with my frustration at what I felt was a rather clumsy introduction of a prominent new character, and looked at Cadance on her own merit, I realized that there’s a lot to like about her. I liked what they did with her in “Crystal Empire”, as well as the fact that they followed up on that by making her stay there for the most part, effectively making it her new post as a Princess now that said empire has been brought back into the land of the living. She’s got a likeable personality, a great voice (though who doesn’t on this show), and a gorgeous visual design, so at this point I’d have to say I’m a fan.
That was before this episode. After it, I’m even more of a fan and hope she makes another appearance again later in the season. She was just great here, blending that friendly, upbeat personality with enough seriousness for the unexpectedly dangerous mission they ended up taking on. Strange to say this about a character I didn’t care for initially, but I really hope we see more of her, and soon. And I wouldn’t mind Shining Armor putting in another appearance, as well.
The song was priceless. Once again, I found myself just cracking up almost constantly while it was going. ESPECIALLY the “big reprise!” I have to imagine DeLancie had a blast with this one, and the plethora of visual gags that accompanied it was amazing. I’d try to pick a favorite moment, but it’d be too hard. Still, the lozenge bit and the house being sneezed away (again) are definite contenders.
So, they find the giant flower, and then are attacked by something that I can only describe as a kind of cross between a Super-Mario Piranha Plant, the Midgard Serpent, and the freakin’ Sarlaac.
Really liked the fight sequence against the thing. Seeing Twilight and Cadance getting to be badass flying battle-mages was just fantastic. It’s also worth noting that Twilight is able to fly and maneuver pretty well throughout this encounter, despite all the stress she’s obviously under, showing that she’s improving as time goes on (and Cadance, for her part, was quick with the wing-work, despite her declaration that she was out of practice when it comes to flying).
Another really interesting thing about the creature itself is what it implies. This is the first time we’ve seen anypony venture out to anything called “the edge of Equestria.” Certainly makes one wonder just what fascinating terrors lie well BEYOND Equestria! What’s the rest of this world like? Is Equestria, even with the presence of things like dragons and hydras, a bubble of relative safety and normalcy amid a world filled with fantastical wonders and nightmarish horrors? The potential for a really cool fantasy world – already high with this show – just went up.
And then they find out that Discord wasn’t even sick, but was simply faking it in order to give Twilight his own little friendship test. And they’re none too happy about it.
Of course, this entirely counts as classic “Discord shenanigans”, but it’s interesting to note the implication that he really cares about whether or not Twilight truly views him as a friend, further reinforcing the realization he had back in “Keep Calm…” about his experience with actual friendship, or lack thereof.
I loved that they remembered the anti-germ shield when the PiranhaMigardSarlaac reappears and sneezes on them – at which point, of course, Discord gets, well… you heard Rarity.
The episode ends with another friendship report and Discord being tended to by Fluttershy, now that he’s ACTUALLY sick. Before the credits rolled, they gave us one last moment of hilarity when Discord asks for “just one more thing…”, and Twilight responds in the best way imaginable.
That face. That face. The slightly twitchy left eye combined with Tara Strong’s pitch-perfect delivery here made me crack up yet again, putting a cap onto what has been one of the funniest episodes of this entire series.
“Three’s a Crowd” easily earns a 10.