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Episode 79. “Filli Vanilli”: The Highs and Lows of Fluttershy's Singing Career

Sunny Fox

1980 views

“When / you / find / you’ve / got the music / got the music in you…” – The Ponytones

In the opening, Fluttershy is busy feeding her menagerie, and unabashedly singing out of simple joy. That joy turns to horror when she realizes that her friends have been watching her the entire time, and her natural reticence reasserts itself. However, her friends admit that they entranced by her beautiful voice, especially Rarity, who urges Fluttershy to join her a capella singing group, The Ponytones.

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Can we call them a barber-crop quartet?

Despite the fact that The Ponytones are singing at an event for the pet shelter at her own behest, Fluttershy refuses to join due to her stage fright. Rarity is very disappointed, but is understanding of her close friend’s limitations.

The group includes Big MacIntosh, Rarity and another mare, named Torch Song, as well as another stallion by the name of Toe-Tapper. After a quick run-through and practice, Rarity encourages them to rest their voices until the final practice before the performance the following evening. Fluttershy, meanwhile, has been listening to them as they practice and proves unable to stop herself swaying in time to their music. This makes it clear that she really would like to join in if she could get over her stage fright.

The night of the performance, all seems in readiness… except for Big MacIntosh, who is late for their final rehearsal. When he finally does arrive, he is puffing and out of breath. Before he can do more than open his mouth, Rarity scolds him for his tardiness, pushes him into line, and blows the opening note on her pitch pipe. Unfortunately, he’s unable to start them off; he has lost his voice due to a Turkey Call competition the previous evening, where he was outperformed by Pinkie, of all ponies.

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She can now add “turkey” to her list of birds she’s impersonated.

The group rushes over to Zecora’s hut. She says she can cure Big MacIntosh, but her remedy will take more time than they have. Zecora suggests making the poison joke from Season 1 into a potion to deepen Fluttershy’s voice, making her Flutterguy once more. Fluttershy agrees, but only if she can remain hidden behind the curtains and have Big MacIntosh lip-sync to her singing. Suiting deed to word, The Parlatones Ponytones perform, making the evening a success, and getting many animals adopted.

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Cheap price for deer.

One of the group’s fans, a little pegasus filly by the name of Zippoorwhill, asks them to perform at her Cuteceanera, and despite Rarity making an excuse in order to save Fluttershy from another performance, Fluttershy herself is quite willing to continue. She can’t disappoint such a cute young filly after all. At the party and each subsequent performance, another booking is made, with Fluttershy always pretending reluctance. Secretly, though, she just enjoys the performing too much to stop. Rarity is not fooled by this for long, again showing that she can be very perceptive.

At each performance, Fluttershy gets more and more animated, giving poor Big MacIntosh problems as he has to play catch-up with her improvised singing. Just before the final performance, however, Rarity takes Fluttershy aside and tells her that Big MacIntosh’s voice is healed, and she doesn’t have to perform as Flutterguy anymore. She convinces them to let her sing from the shadows one more time.

During the performance, she gets carried away backstage, and ends up knocking down the curtain, revealing herself to all and sundry. Despite uproarious applause, her stage fright overcomes her again, as she has a hallucination of giant floating pony heads with spotlights for eyes. Pretty terrifying, actually. :blink:

Distraught, she runs off back to her cottage. The others follow her there, and some innocently insensitive words from Pinkie set her to running again, earning her a rebuke from the others.

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Taking the Spiderman connection a bit too far there, aren’t you Pinkie?

Finally getting her to confront her fears, the others wring an admission from her that it wasn’t an all-bad experience, and that she did quite enjoy the singing. She’s even willing to sing with the Ponytones to the animals. However, she still won’t perform in front of strangers, and asks them to let her get over her stage fright in baby steps. Her entry into the journal states that she has learned that one shouldn’t let their fear keep them from being the best they can be.

 

Thoughts on the episode

While Rarity is well known for her beautiful singing voice (Kasumi Evans) in real life, this is the first time it’s been acknowledged that her voice is just as beautiful within the show’s universe (that I remember, at any rate). While this is a good thing, it’s a little jarring to see Rarity, or even Big MacIntosh, for that matter, being in a pony singing troupe, since it hasn’t been alluded to previously.

This also introduces a few instances of Fridge Logic. Big MacIntosh has been described as “very shy” by Apple Bloom, but he’s perfectly willing to perform on stage in front of large crowds? There is also a question mark of a similar nature floating over Fluttershy’s head. She has sung in front of a (much, much larger) crowd before, in “Hearth’s Warming Eve” and it was acknowledged earlier in that episode that she didn’t feel comfortable with it. Yet she is crippled by stage fright this time around, when the crowd she has to perform for is much smaller and mainly consists of Ponyville residents. This could be handwaved, perhaps, if she was able to mentally subsume herself into the persona of Private Pansy for the performance in “HWE”.

Pinkie was superbly badly handled in this episode. For the pony who is supposed to make others feel happier, this feels like the writer was really taking liberties with her character. She doesn’t even have the excuse of playing up for the fun of it, as she did in “Luna Eclipsed”. Since everyone and their grandmother has pointed out this flaw in the episode, I won’t harp on it further.

Rarity, on the other hoof, was wonderful in this episode. I refer not only to the aforementioned confirmation of her lovely singing voice, but also the way she handled Fluttershy, which was extraordinary. Remember that Rarity lives for bringing out the beauty in things, and Fluttershy’s voice is something she really wants to have others hear and appreciate. Yet despite that, she quickly accepts that Fluttershy can’t perform due to her crippling stage fright. It highlights her generosity in a natural way. She also quickly cottons on to the fact that Flutterguy is accepting bookings because she wants to perform, rather than just to avoid disappointing others. Yet apart from a knowing smile, she doesn’t give away that she’s seen through the ruse, surprising Fluttershy when she finally reveals it. This is a far cry from “Green Isn’t Your Colour”, where she couldn’t see that Fluttershy was only putting on a brave face. That’s some pleasing development there.

Zippoorwhill… dear sweet deity of diabetes, is this filly cute. Like her namesake, she zooms around constantly, is over the moon to have the Ponytones perform at her party (“We got The Ponytones! We got The Ponytones!”) and she is even able to handle the disappointment when she thinks she may not be able to book them. I hope we see more of her and her daddy, who has a very interesting accent.

As for the other Mane Six members, Applejack managed to provide some good humour, with her hat floating in mid-air due to her surprise at hearing Fluttershy sing, and the way she ascertains the situation with her rapidfire questions to Big MacIntosh. Rainbow Dash was a bit of a non-entity, and Twilight also had very little screentime, but then again, the focus was on Fluttershy and to a lesser extent on Rarity, so it’s to be expected.

The plot itself was quite simple, which allows a natural progression of events. One negative is using Pinkie to push Fluttershy’s emotional buttons, but overall, the simplicity of the story works in its favour.

 

Highlights

(Shamelessly copied from TVTropes)
Applejack's assessment of the whole situation goes down as this.
Applejack: Turkey call?
Big Mac: Eeyup.
Applejack: Trash your voice?
Big Mac: Eeyup.
Applejack: Zecora remedy?
Big Mac: Eeyup.
Applejack: Not quick enough?
Big Mac: Nope.
Applejack: Needed a deep voice?
Big Mac: Eeyup.
Applejack: Poison joke?
Big Mac: Eeyup.
Applejack: Flutterguy?
Big Mac: Eeyup.
Applejack: Better now?
Big Mac: Eeyup.
Applejack: And that shy filly was livin' her dream in the shadows because she couldn't bring herself to come into the spotlight?
Big Mac: Eeyup.

Zippoorwhill gets the Ponytones.

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And just Zippoorwhill in general, really.

Pros: Continuity nods galore; Rarity and Fluttershy friendship highlighted; Big MacIntosh gets to say more than “Eeyup” and “Nope”.

Cons: Pinkie, what have they done to you? Fridge Logic at points.

 

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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