Five More Pony Episodes I’d Love To See

A few months ago I posted five episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic that I wanted to see in season three. The main crux of the post was that I wanted to see more of the same quality the writers had delivered in the first two seasons, and that I wanted them to continue surprising me with new things I didn’t know I wanted until I got them.

With season three come and gone, I figured I’d look back and see how it stacked up, and then offer some thoughts about what I awnt to see in season four.

#1: Fluttershy gets something new and interesting. I think Keep Calm and Flutter On took care of this nicely! The interactions between Fluttershy and Discord in this episode, and between Fluttershy and her friends about Discord, are the most interesting things she’s gotten since The Staremaster. What Keep Calm did was take one of Fluttershy’s existing character traits — that she has the patience of a saint — and applies it in a new way: handling Discord. The episode showed that she can be manipulative, and that she can be legitimately hurt or upset without going full-blown-weepy or hair-trigger-rage. As to whether it allowed Fluttershy to grow as a character, well, I noticed in the very next episode that she was confident enough to manipulate Spike… albeit in a friendly and non-committal way. Maybe that would have happened anyway, and I was just more open to noticing it because of Keep calm. But it worked for me, and now I’m not as ambivalent about Fluttershy as I was.

#2: Princess Celestia is the bad guy. Big swing and a miss, but then, I was expecting that. Not only is Celestia still the same boring mascot/mother/godhead, but we have seen the role of Cadence expanded greatly, she who is by all appearances Celestia Jr. Some fans have speculated as to some greater scheme or motive of Celestia’s, given the smattering of metaplot we were subjected to throughout the season, but I think that’s just frantic clutching for meaning.

#3: Scootaloo gets her cutie mark, but her friends don’t. We didn’t get to see the story of the Cutie Mark Crusaders advance in any meaningful way, although they were used appropriately in a few places, most notably in Sleepless in Ponyville and Just For Sidekicks. The other half of my reason for wanting this episode was that I thought Scootaloo was about due for some development of her own, which happened to my satisfaction in Sleepless. That episode was nothing groundbreaking, but it taught us a few things about Scootaloo and left the door open for future developments.

#4: Legends of the Dark Knight, but with ponies. Not only did this not happen, but I’m no longer as convinced as I was that the series is mature enough for it to happen. The whole season was fairly shallow when it came to background characters. Oh well.

#5: A straight-up Daring Do adventure. Dash was reading a Daring Do novel in on scene, so at least the character is still alive. Stil…

In addition to those five things, there were two more I didn’t note which, in hindsight, I probably should have. They are:

#6: Continue supplying great songs. I am a sucker for musicals, and I had every reason to believe the third season of Friendship is Magic would continue the trend. Sadly, it didn’t. Without going into particulars, I have described the songs from this season as “straight-up kidz bop dogshit”, and meant it.

#7: The return of Trixie. This is something a lot of fans were clamoring for, which falls under my umbrella of “fans don’t really know what they want”. (In fact, I used Trixie’s return as a pointed example of the kind of thing I didn’t want to see.) However, Trixie did return, and in a way that actually spoke to the quality of the show’s writing and to the development of her character. The episode was not just “hey look it’s trixie again doing more trixie things”, even though that would have satisfied mostly everyone. Instead, the episode was a logical extension of her previous appearance, and a very natural continuation of her relationship with existing characters. Bringing Trixie back was a great way to put a spotlight on Twilight Sparkle and show just how much she had grown since Trixie’s last visit. In other words, Magic Duel was pretty much exactly what I said I wanted to see out of season three. That they can get Trixie right and yet still fumble with Cadence is baffling to me.

Enough about season three. Season three is, like, behind us, man. Let’s move on to things I want to see in season four. In general, I still want the same things: I want to see the existing characters and setting expanded upon, and I want to continue being surprised with the types of stories the writers are willing to tell.

#1: Twilight’s promotion needs to go somewhere interesting. A lot of fans had themselves a big gushy fansquee at Twilight’s promotion to princess. I mostly just rolled my eyes. Can you blame me? The show has bent over backwards to convince me that princesses are boring characters, and now my favoritest bestpony has joined their illustrious ranks. What do I have to look forward to, then? Is Twilight going to spend the rest of the series being smug and predictable? No thanks.

There were a lot of hints that season three was building up some metaplot, and that Twilight’s wings are only the first part of the payoff. Where the plot goes next will determine whether it was all worth it. Changing the status quo is a bold move, but only if the writers are willing to follow through with it. Rather than speculate on where those wings should take her, I’ll instead point to two places they shouldn’t.

First, it would be a shame for Twilight to become a shadow of Cadence the way Cadence became a shadow of Celestia. The last thing the show needs is a third boring princess. We already know the princesses are Twilight’s biggest role models, and that she aspires to be like them. What keeps her interesting is that she has a stable full of character flaws that prevent that. A calm, collected, and always-right Twilight Sparkle would kill the very heart of what makes her so much fun.

And second, it would be cowardly to revert to the status quo. If the first episode of season four is a two-part epic detailing how Twilight loses her wings and everything goes back to normal, I will kick and scream like a frustrated child.

#2: A musical episode with high-quality songs that flow naturally and tell the story. Magical Mystery Cure tried to be this episode, but it failed so spectacularly it’s almost unbelievable. One of the main criticisms of that episode is that it tries to stuff too much story into too little time. The most prevalent opinion on how to fix it is to make it into a two-parter. However, for the breakneck pace the plot has to move to squeeze everything in, the episode’s songs do a surprisingly small amount of work. What My Cutie Mark Is Telling Me and True True Friend (forgive me if these aren’t the songs’ actual titles) each contain a full verse for each of Twilight’s friends, and convey very little information about the action happening onscreen. It doesn’t help that the songs are also bad.

The idea of a fully musical episode has merit, but this wasn’t the way to do it. If the writers want to take another crack at it, they should watch See Me, Feel Me, Gnomey and take notes. They need to get away from the idea that they can work like a Disney movie, where the story alternates between story segments and musical showstoppers. You don’t have that luxury when you’re working inside a twenty-two minute box.

#3: An adventure episode where the goal is not “help Cadence”. Sorry to keep beating this drum, but Cadence is super-boring and I don’t believe her character is salvageable. It made sense that she was featured prominently in A Canterlot Wedding, but that really should have been the end of it; her inclusino in The Crystal Empire felt forced and unnecessary. Oh boo hoo, courageous and selfless Cadence, bestest princess ever, is so tired and weary of protecting the whole blah blah blah all by herself. Gag me. The fun parts of that episode were the same parts that were fun in the season one and two openers: the mane six being themselves in dangerous and exciting situations.

I like the adventure episodes. I don’t want to become more common, because I think they work best as an infrequent part of the overall tapestry. However, because they are uncommon, I feel like the show is in a rut where they are used as excuses to trot out the new mascot. Maybe they work better if you’re a fan of said mascot, but I’m not.

#4: A follow-up to Discord’s reformation. As already stated, I loved Keep Calm and Flutter On. I’m excited to see what the next chapter is. In this episode, Celestia stated that she had a use for Discord’s magic, if only he could be made to play nice. What was that use? And to what degree will Discord play along? And what role will Fluttershy have in all of that? I don’t think the writers would have opened this box unless they were going to pull something out of it, and I can’t wait to find out what.

Part of my fascination with this plot point, I confess, stems from years of playing D&D. The idea that chaos and evil are two distinct concepts is one that not a lot of fantasy literature likes to play with. Things are either nice and orderly and good, or they are dark and chaotic and evil… but that’s only half of what could theoretically be explored. That a mighty force of chaos could be good for Equestria is a great idea. I’m ready to see it in action.

#5: A straight-up Daring Do adventure. Why yes, I’m going to keep saying this every season until it happens. Why do you ask?

3 comments to Five More Pony Episodes I’d Love To See

  • aceina

    i liked true true friend as a song…..

  • Shifter

    I should be watching this… heck, I started watching this with my sister… but then I saw what happened in the last episode, asked her, “was that ever built up too? Did Twighlight, further along in season one, just like, decide she wanted to be a princess, work towards that, and then the last episode that was aired let her achieve that goal in a meaning full and fulfilling way?!” all she could do was weep deeply, shake her head, and then say, “I’m done with ponies…”
    I kid you not, that is almost word for word. She is now watching avatar… again… the whole 4 seasons…
    I’m depressed… should I keep watching?

    (For the record, I just finished Staremaster, and all I could think of was damn nethack cockatrices)

  • Duralumin

    This series is going backward so fast it’s leaving friction burns on my eyes.
    The fact that Magic Duel (a fairly bog-standard episode, all told) is the standout of the season makes me feel all kinds of sad. Ah well. Here’s hoping it salvages itself, yeah?

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