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Episode 17. “Stare Master”: In Which the CMC Went Off Half-Cockatriced

Sunny Fox

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You’re the Queen of Stares! You’re the Stare Master! – Cutie Mark Crusaders

The episode opens in Carousel Boutique, where Rarity is working herself into a state due to a large order for the following day. Not helping matters is Sweetie Belle, who wants to assist her sister and perhaps earn her cutie mark, but instead ends up causing a domino disaster when she tries to get a spool of ribbon off a high shelf.

After losing the time to set the room back to rights, Rarity declares that she can’t make do with any more interruptions. Cue doorbell, and a frustrated “What NOW?!” from Rarity. Seeing that it’s Fluttershy, returning Opal from being groomed, she apologizes for the outburst, and thanks Fluttershy for taking care of Opal… who is much more affectionate towards Fluttershy than towards her owner… or her owner’s sister…

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Or her owner’s sister’s mane. :3

Rarity asks Fluttershy if she used “the Stare” on Opal, but Fluttershy replies in the negative. She doesn’t have control over the Stare, it just happens. Rarity regrets that she can’t ask Fluttershy to stay, due to her work load, but she does take time to show off her gold silk, which Sweetie seems to find fascinating. Now there’s a bit of theme that starts here. Rarity uses the phrase “bit off more than I can chew”, which is going to keep cropping up. She also takes the time to explain the expression to a baffled Sweetie Belle. I attribute this to the whole “edutainment” aspect that the first season of the show had.

Just then, the other two thirds of the Crusaders arrive in the form of “Scootaloo! Apple Bloom!” (Just in case you forgot what their names were, I guess) and the three start shouting excitedly about their plans for Crusading during their sleepover at Rarity’s. Sweetie Belle has even made them each a cape… lined with gold silk, to add just the right touch.

Considering the fact that she only found out about the silk two minutes ago, she must have some kind of superspeed or time stop power, since there literally has been no time in which she could have cut out the gold silk and completed the three capes. We’ll add that to her ability to defy the laws of physics that we saw during the ribbon incident. A small spool of ribbon managed to knock over a clothes horse, and that somehow generated even more energy, enough to wreck the entire room… could it be…?

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Not so farfetched, after all?

Rarity naturally freaks out over Sweetie using the last of her gold silk, and now she’ll need to make more… meaning that the sleepover is a no go, since she won’t have the time to spare looking after the three fillies. Fluttershy offers to take care of them instead. Rarity, showing a bit of Genre Savvy, warns Fluttershy that she might be underestimating just how demanding the three can be, but Fluttershy insists on her ability to look after them. Rarity reluctantly agrees, and the three race off with more shouting, Fluttershy in tow.

Heading back to Fluttershy’s, they meet Twilight, who is on the way to Zecora’s cottage in the Everfree Forest to get some tea. She also expresses the concern that Fluttershy might be in for a busy night with three energetic fillies, but Fluttershy is certain they’ll be “little angels”.

When they arrive at the cottage, Fluttershy quickly finds that Rarity and Twilight were right. The three little fillies tear their way through the cottage, trying out various Crusader vocations such as “Creature Catchers”, “Carpenters” and “Coal miners”. Fluttershy’s attempt at getting them to play “Shush” is also an epic failure, and eventually, even patient Fluttershy is beginning to get frayed nerves. She finally convinces them it’s bed time. She tries to put them down with a lullaby… which Sweetie Belle happens to know.

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Setting eardrums to DefCon One…

What follows is one of the more epic songs in the season, with Sweetie Belle lustily busting out a “lullaby” at full volume, complete with gospel choir backing and a visual accompaniment. Although, technically, it’s Michelle Creber (who usually provides the voice of Apple Bloom) who provides the singing voice in this instance. The song is loud enough to wake up Fluttershy’s chickens, who start running amok.

The Crusaders teleport out the window to become “Chicken Catchers” (again with the C’s) and eventually rouse even Fluttershy to anger, and she firmly orders them to stop. Her attempt at coaxing the chickens back into their coop is unsuccessful, until she turns the Stare on them. Mesmerized, the chickens almost seem to be telekinesised through the doorway (I know that’s not a real word, just go with it). Turning back to her young charges, she finally convinces them to go back to bed. They even promise “no more Crusading until tomorrow”, using each other’s voices. Seriously. Go listen carefully, the fillies speak with the wrong voices.

The minute Fluttershy is out of the room, though, their promise is forgotten. Noticing that one of the chickens (Fluttershy later provides the name as Elizabeak… cute :wub: ) has escaped through a hole in the fence, the three become “Chicken Rescuers” and head out into the Everfree Forest, following Elizabeak’s tracks. Scootaloo gets her cape caught on a fence post, and a corner of it rips off.

Inside, Fluttershy realizes that it’s just too quiet, and quickly finds out where the three (and her chicken) have gone. After scolding herself for being a too proud and “biting off more than I can chew”, she follows them into the Forest.

The girls are busy calling for the chicken, in between arguing over the “right” way to call a chicken (creating the Scootaloo chicken meme), and arguing about their special talent being arguing. (“Is not!” “Is too!” “Anything yet?” “Nope.” “Darn.”) Meanwhile, Fluttershy is getting more and more nervous, and begins to fly around in a panic. Seeing Twilight in the distance, she races to her, only to find that Twilight is rocking out.

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Twilight went into the woods to get stoned.
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See? B*tch be trippin’!

Realizing that a cockatrice must be on the loose, Fluttershy redoubles her efforts to find the girls, promising Twilight that she’ll come back for her. She manages to find the fillies, but can’t get them to realize the danger – the cockatrice (head of a chicken, body of a snake) sounds too silly. Even worse, Elizabeak runs past, distracting the CMC. They go to grab her, only to find they have two chickens… one of which is the cockatrice!

After showing it means business by petrifying Elizabeak, it turns its stony gaze (heheh) to the girls, who scream and run away… straight into statue Twilight. This sets them to screaming even harder, giving away their position to the cockatrice. Fluttershy calls for them to stand behind her, and seeing the terror on their faces gives her the courage to confront the cockatrice, face to face, eye to eye. Even as she starts turning to stone herself, Fluttershy tells the cockatrice off. The cockatrice redoubles its efforts, but Fluttershy’s Stare is just too powerful. Its will broken, the cockatrice’s magic shatters off of Fluttershy, who threatens dire consequences if the cockatrice doesn’t reverse its spell on Twilight and Elizabeak… like telling its mom on it. :lol:

The three fillies declare Fluttershy the Stare Master, and promise to listen to her from now on, as the restored but groggy Twilight joins them. The next day, back at the cottage, Fluttershy tells Twilight all about it as Twilight takes a letter to Celestia, saying that she’s learned “not to bite off more than I can chew.” Rarity also arrives, having managed to make her delivery on time, and to pick up the girls… who are still running around making noise. While Rarity is unable to get them to listen, a quiet word from Stare Master Fluttershy does the trick, and the fillies go to pack their belongings. Rarity is amazed!

Wow. How did this little review end up being so long? I’ll try to be quick on the analysis.

 

Strengths: The comedy in this episode mostly lies in the three fillies and their conversations. Just about every discussion they have is punctuated with hilarity. The cockatrice is a legitimate threat, able to take out the magically formidable Twilight apparently without effort. It also makes sense that Twilight doesn’t remember it happening, since presumably her short term memory didn’t have time to be converted to long term memory. A similar thing can happen when a person is knocked unconscious – they don’t remember the actual event. Perhaps the part of her brain that stores long term memory turned to stone first? Perhaps I’m overanalyzing… yeah, the second one seems likely! :) The song sequence is also interesting, since the song itself is pretty catchy, and Michelle Creber seems to have an incredible talent. There’s also a nice theme running through the episode, which makes the plot seem cohesive, so I think it’s also quite a well written episode.

Weaknesses: As alluded to before, how Sweetie managed to make three capes with the gold silk in literally no time at all is a major point of fridge logic. There are some minor animation errors, such as the wrong filly speaking at the wrong time, and at one point, Sweetie Belle’s ear manages to do a vanishing trick. The continual full-volume shouting and screaming by the CMC can also be pretty hard on the ears.

 

Final Thoughts on the Episode

The exact nature of the Stare is food for thought. It really does seem to me to be a magical ability. There are some indications. There is a Twilight Zone synthesizer liefmotif when it happens, and the chickens almost seemed to be moved against their will, even squeezing through a too narrow doorway. The fact that it could counteract the magical effect of petrification could also be seen as pointing in this direction. Although it’s possible that the Stare just unnerved the cockatrice enough that it couldn’t keep up with the spell, rather than directly counteracting it… I still think it makes more sense to go with the former explanation, because even before the cockatrice seemed to be straining, the effect on Fluttershy was quite slow compared to Elizabeak.

Then again, it’s not the first time we’ve seen an apparently magical ability that can’t really be explained, but is undeniably real, since we had Pinkie Sense introduced not so long ago… and Pinkie Pie in general really.

 

Highlights

On arrival at Fluttershy’s
Fluttershy: So... what do you want to do? Play a game?
Apple Bloom: We are the Cutie Mark Crusaders!
Scootaloo: And we want to crusade for our cutie marks!
Sweetie Belle: And we…. Um… yeah, what they said!

After accidentally breaking a table:
Apple Bloom: Hammer.
Scootaloo: Hammer!
Scootaloo picks up a hammer. She passes the hammer to Sweetie Belle, who passes it to Apple Bloom.
Sweetie Belle: Hammer.
Scootaloo: Hammer!
Scootaloo picks up a hammer. She passes the hammer to Sweetie Belle.
Scootaloo: Hammer… Hammer!
Scootaloo picks up a hammer. Various construction sounds
Sweetie Belle: That doesn’t look like a table.
Scootaloo: We were making a table?

Actually, anything that comes out these fillies’ mouths in this episode is comedic gold.

 

Final Rating
5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon!

Stay sunny side up!



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