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Episode 10. “Swarm of the Century”: The One Where Zecora Forgets to Rhyme

Sunny Fox


You’ve got a problem, all right! And a banjo is the only solution! – Pinkie Pie

Princess Celestia is on her way to visit Ponyville, and preparations are well underway. While the town goes to town on the decorations, Fluttershy is searching the fringe of the Everfree Forest for flowers in honor of the Royal Visit. She comes across one of the cutest little critters you’re ever going to see. Despite seeing it devour an entire bucket of apples, she decides to take it home to show off to the others… leaving the empty bucket behind as an ominous chord plays in the background.

Twilight and Spike are tidying the library, but keep getting in each other’s way. Spike suggests that only one of them should be doing this, clearly hoping Twilight will excuse him from the chore. This backfires when she agrees, but then tells him to continue cleaning and leaves. Once again doing the job of Mayor Mare, she goes out to oversee the sprucing up of Ponyville. One wonders, does Mayor Mare even have any authority in Ponyville now that Twilight is living there?

Visiting Sugarcube Corner, she finds Pinkie eating all the treats that are meant for the Princess. When Twilight remonstrates with her, she claims taste testing. Just then, Fluttershy slides in, eager to show off her new pet… or pets, as she now discovers she has three. Twilight agrees that they are adorable, and takes one for herself. Pinkie, however, announces that she has no need for parasprites, but now has to go find a trombone. Many fans, at this point, blame Pinkie for not being clear about what’s going on. Personally, I blame Twilight instead. Pinkie is supposed to be ditzy; Twilight is supposed to be smart. One simple word, “Why?” would have cleared up everything.

Fluttershy: Pinkie, do you want the other one?
Pinkie: Ugh, a parasprite? Are you kidding?
Twilight: A para-what? <<< The logical next question is “What is that?”
Pinkie: Now gotta go find a trombone!
Twilight: A what? <<< Another insightful comment. This is the perfect opportunity to ask “Why?”
Pinkie: A trombone... you know… <makes a trombone sound>
Pinkie leaves
Twilight: Ugh... typical Pinkie…

She makes no further attempt to find out more, despite Pinkie having identified the little guys. She even seems to forget Pinkie ever mentioned them, as we’ll see later.

Anyway, Twilight takes her new pet with her as she goes to visit Rarity, who is busy putting the finishing touches on a lovely dress… for Rainbow Dash. Huh, didn’t expect that… Also finding that her one has become three (do these ponies know nothing about geometric growth?), Twilight gives one to Rarity and Rainbow Dash, ignoring the arrival of Pinkie, who is still trying to collect musical instruments. This scene provides a nice little bit of fridge brilliance, as well, so take note of how Rainbow, out of all the ponies, is the only one to actually kiss hers. I’ll explain why this is notable later.

As night falls, Twilight puts Spike and his new pet parasprite to bed, and seeing how peaceful they look, she stops feeling nervous about the Princess’ visit the following day, and goes to sleep as well. The morning brings a rude awakening, as Twilight discovers that the library is now absolutely full of parasprites. Spike is as stumped as she is as to where they came from, since he only remembers feeding the original parasprite during the night. They start to wreck the library, and Twilight and Spike hasten to capture the little guys.

Meanwhile, Rainbow also finds herself in trouble, as the horde of parasprites she has all seem overly affectionate… probably because she kissed the one that produced all these others, as I mentioned earlier. Freaked out by this, Rainbow flies away in a panic. In contrast, Rarity is quite happy to have the little swarm help out with her dress-making… until one of them throws up in her face, and the vomitus becomes a new parasprite. Any pony would be grossed out by that, but when it’s Rarity… hoo, boy. She demands the parasprites leave her boutique, and also starts gathering them into her saddlebags. As she exits, she meets Pinkie, who has found a harmonica. When she plays a chord, the parasprites react to it, hinting at the resolution of the episode. Seeing all the parasprites, Pinkie announces a banjo as the only answer to the problem, and leaves again.

All three end up at Fluttershy’s cottage, only to find she is having just as much trouble with her parasprites. Then Applejack arrives with more apples, which are promptly devoured, and the others rope her in to help them herd the critters away… except for one which Fluttershy kept, setting them back to square one… or ground zero… one may tend the resemble the other. The next solution, a tornado courtesy of Rainbow, is also doomed to failure, this time because Pinkie’s cymbals gets sucked in, disrupting the tornado and dumping all the parasprites into Ponyville proper.

Hastening to the scene, the ponies discover the parasprites eating all the food. After Applejack runs back to protect her farm, Twilight casts a spell to ruin the parasprites’ appetite, which backfires spectacularly when they start eating everything that isn’t food instead. At that, the ponies scatter to protect their own interests. Rarity goes to the boutique and tries to shoo them away from the clothes, but when they all start throwing up, she is forced to retreat to a stool in the middle of the room and scream for help… and in comes Pinkie, grabbing another instrument and then leaving again.

Hey, Pinkie, I think Squidward wants his clarinet back…

Applejack and family are guarding the orchard, which the swarm ignores entirely, instead eating the house. Applejack’s reaction is priceless. Twilight even seeks help from new friend Zecora, who is annoyed about being interrupted while she meditates and being dumped on the floor, forgetting for the first and only time to date to rhyme her lines (“Have you gone mad?”)

Zecora, the red-nosed zebra, had a paraspritey nose…

Despite Zecora referring to them by the same name as Pinkie Pie, Twilight still seems not to remember these things are called parasprites. Zecora’s verdict is discouraging, to say the least. Running back to town, Twilight starts to crack under the pressure of the situation. Then One-Mare-Band Pinkie Pie appears, playing polka with a multitude of instruments. Twilight is bemused to see that the parasprites start dancing in time to the music, and begin to follow Pinkie in a neat line. As the rest of the Mane Six follow Pinkie, Celestia’s flying carriage arrives. Greeting her faithful student and friends, Celestia notices the Pinkie, parasprite and polka procession, and believes it to be a parade in her honour. The rest of the Mane Six just go with it, and Celestia regretfully informs them that there is an “infestation of bothersome creatures” situation she has to deal with elsewhere in Equestria, and the visit to Ponyville will have to wait. Before she leaves, she asks Twilight for her latest report, which Twilight ad-libs: “The solutions to your problems can come from those whom you least expect” or something. After that, the Mane Six go to apologize to Pinkie, and return “in triumph” to the still wrecked Ponyville.

This episode is rather middle of the road for me. The central confusion could so easily have been cleared up if either party had bothered to clarify their side, but then, I guess that is the entire point of the episode. There are a few humorous moments, in particular when the parasprites ignore the orchard and eat the house. The Apple family’s reaction provides a lot of glee.

The ending provides me a sneaking suspicion that Princess Celestia understands the situation better than she lets on. She looks more aghast than surprised to see the parasprite parade, despite professing not to know what these “adorable” creatures are. It’s quite possible she recognizes the parasprites, and since they are coming from Ponyville, she would be able to deduce that there is a problem there. She would obviously want Twilight to save face. The Guards who have been pulling her carriage also seem to have very knowing smiles, if you ask me. All in all, it’s highly probable that she has seen through the whole ruse.

Rainbow Dash, seeing Pinkie running full speed in reverse, delivers this ironic echo of a line in “Griffon the Brushoff”: Pinkie Pie, you are so random!

The scene where Rarity thinks Pinkie Pie has come to help her against the parasprites, only for her to grab a flute from the table and leave again. Rarity just screams louder.

Twilight’s brief trip to looney land:
Twilight’s brain: Snap!
Twilight: Okay, here’s the plan… Rainbow Dash, you distract them…
RD flies by shouting with a bunch of overly affectionate parasprites chasing her
Twilight: Good! Everyone (sic) else, we need to build an exact copy of Ponyville over there… we’ve got less than a minute! …beat… Zecora was right. We’re doomed.

Pros: There are some very funny scenes. The way the situation goes from bad to worse is also very entertaining.

Cons: Various characters have to carry the idiot ball for this to work.

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!

  • Brohoof 1

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Don't blame Twilight, I have an explanation. I think that maybe Twilight discarded Pinkie's remark because Pinkie is generally random, so she probably thought it was irrelevant.

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