Good morning, everypony, and welcome back from the U.S. mid-season hiatus of MLP Season 7 to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! Well, we had a double heaping of some truly exceptional MLP goodness yesterday (well, rather I should say we had a heaping of great goodness followed by a mountain of "HOLY BUCK THAT WAS THE MOST AMAZING INCREDIBLE SHIT I'VE EVER SEEN!!!" but, eh, details, details), so let's not waste anymore time and dive right into the first new episode of the day (and first new Discord episode of Season 7, I should add). Without further ado, this is "Discordant Harmony."
So as far as Discord episodes go, I actually have to say this one was oddly... simple for him. Now, I don't say that simply because of how it was executed alone or how he behaved, no no, I'm saying that the actual conflict around which the entire episode revolved was oddly simple. Don't get me wrong, there were some complex character developments at play, especially in the third act, but what was technically the central conflict around which everything revolved? A tea party. Yeah, Discord decides he wants to host Fluttershy, his best friend, for a tea party at his place for once because they always hold them at her house instead. I have to admit, I'd be hard pressed to think of a Discord episode that has had a more straightforward conflict than that. Of course we all know that since this is Discord we're talking about, nothing about what happened in the episode's execution was truly "simple," but I think most of you know what I mean.
So Discord wants to host Fluttershy for a tea party, and really (given how the episode concluded) if he'd just stuck with doing everything he did to start off, everything would have gone smoothly. The first act is largely Discord just bamfing around town gathering supplies for the tea party, and that alone amused me quite a bit, just the fact that he was doing it at all; think about it, Discord has shown multiple times that he can manifest whatever he wants to out of thin air, so he most definitely DID NOT need to shop for those supplies. My working theory is that either (1) he wanted to actually buy the supplies to add a personal touch to his tea party with Fluttershy, ya know, act like she mattered enough to him to go out and get those things rather than just pop them into existence, or (2) he was bored and just wanted to buck with some ponies. Anyways, he gets some supplies and of course adds his own chaotic touch to them, until of course he's met by Pinkie Pie.
Apparently her name is Jasmine Leaf... can we seriously, PLEASE get more of her? If only for her adorable mane and accent alone!!!
This is where things take a turn. Pinkie offers admittedly good advice that as long as Discord makes Fluttershy feel comfortable, she'll have a fun time. Unfortunately Discord of course interprets this as meaning that she'll never enjoy herself at his place given how, well, absolutely bonkers it is, so he goes about tidying it up as only he can... with six of him, of course. By the time he's done, he's so normal that he's pretty much Mister Rogers (no really, I'm 99% certain that's exactly what they were referencing with his "normal" look), and, well, his place is as... not-Discord as it could possibly be.
As boring as normal Discord may have been, I will forever be grateful for this delicious reference
This leads to exactly what you'd expect... that's right, Discord almost fades from existence.
Yeah, in a curiously dark turn in the third act, Discord quite literally almost ceases to exist (which, now that I think about it, if that had happened I'm pretty sure that Fluttershy would have been stranded in his realm as well, leading to all kinds of uncomfortable questions about what her fate might have been in that event). Heck, he can't even really do anything about it himself once he becomes too normal, so it's all up to Fluttershy (who was already weirded out by his out of character behavior) to literally bring the chaos back into his life. This whole bit is easily the best scene of the episode and illustrates a lot about how both characters have grown as a result of their unusual friendship with one another. So of course Fluttershy succeeds, the day is saved, Discord more or less gets his groove back, and they get to have the tea party at Discord's that they both always wanted.
Now, at first glance this episode seems utterly predictable. I mean, what it boils down to is "Friend A misunderstood Friend B and thought they wanted Friend A to behave one way, when Friend B already loved them for who they were and wanted Friend A to act their normal self." That is a very, very, VERY recycled plot formula in television for all ages, appearing in shows ranging from animated cartoons to sitcoms aimed at family or adult audiences. So yeah, anyone who does believe that, in many ways, this episode is predictable, they're not wrong. It is, and yet I still found it to be quite exceptional. Why? Execution. Really, that's about it, the episode was just executed incredibly well. John de Lancie was phenomenal as usual as Discord (I particularly appreciated some of his subtle touches here, such as the fact that his "Discord 2.0" a.k.a. "Discord with glasses" had an ever-so-slightly lower, more mature and serious sounding voice than Discord himself did) and brought the laughs as we've come to expect by now from this character. His chores about town and tidying up his place were probably his two funniest scenes, and I especially enjoyed seeing Discord screwing around with ponies besides Fluttershy and the Mane 6. Frankly, it was hilarious how nonplussed most of the other ponies dealing with him seemed at this point. I mean on the one hand some of them seemed curiously unaware of what his chaos magic can do (odd considering he more or less lives in Ponyville and has been screwing with that city for years), but on the other hand they definitely didn't treat him like a threat either, more like an annoyance. His party supplies and the alterations he gave to them as well were also quite a hoot, particularly the singing Ginseng tea bags and the sapient pinata (also, "Pinatas hate bats" is easily the best line of this entire episode ).
Not sure if best beehive or worst beehive ever. Hmmm... best beehive.
The other part of it that made it really exceptional in execution was Fluttershy herself, particularly in the third act. Now, it may seem predictable, even Mary Sue-ish, that Fluttershy would just want Discord to be himself, but the way they delivered it was actually quite smart and clever. You actually got the sense that, if this were Season 1, Fluttershy maybe would have preferred a perfectly normal tea party, but this is Season 7 Fluttershy who's been friends with the Lord of Chaos for years, she is much less rigid in her own wants and needs. Her explanation that not only would she expect Discord (in fact, she seemed to look forward to it even) to host an incredibly crazy, chaos-filled tea party at his own home, but that she'd come to truly appreciate their differences as they'd grown in their friendship, was one of the smartest pieces of Fluttershy writing we've had in some time. It showed that she's really not as predictable as we might think she is sometimes, and that even if she herself may seem like the most mild of characters, that doesn't mean she wants or expects everyone else in her life to be like that. What she showed us is, just like with all of her other friends, while she's completely comfortable with who she is and how she lives her life, she enjoys the variety and spice that they bring to her life as well, including Discord in all of his chaotic ways. Plus I won't lie, Fluttershy trying to (and somehow succeeding in) channeling her "inner-chaos" in order to save Discord was not only touching, but hilarious cute as well.
Oh Fluttershy, you so crazy
Overall, this was a solid start to the second half of Season 7, and really, I think it would be getting much more attention than it has if it weren't for the episode that came directly after it. Unfortunately for "Discordant Harmony," it had the bad luck of preceding what may possibly be the most important episode of MLP ever. But we'll find out more about that in my next review. Tune in next time (which should be today) for a very, very special edition of "Batbrony Reviews."