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  1. Hub Welcome to the Fluttershy fan club! Fluttershy is a pony who loves taking care of animals. She normally is look towards as a vetranarian. She is a quiet pony yet she opens up to her friends... if they want her too, that is. She isn't a strong flier but yet she still is a well respected pegasus. She is a kind and tender pony, unless you pull the wrong strings. She is always willing to help and will always listen she is the element of Kindness. Kyronea's analysis on Fluttershy Rules of this thread -No spamming post to become biggest fans -This is a children’s show, and believe it or not there are younger people who go on these forums, please limit content to suggestive only. For example you may post a picture of two ponies kissing, but they cannot be doing anything inappropriate, or showing things inappropriate. -Do not post a picture of Applejack in the Rainbow Dash forum, because Applejack belongs in the Applejack forum. -Do not hate on another fan club, for example posting in the Fluttershy forum "Twilight is better!" -I have the ability to decide whether you are doing something inappropriate or not, if I deem you are doing something unnecessary and I ask you to stop, please stop. Common Sense my little ponies. -All of MLP Forums rules still apply. This is the Fluttershy thread, please only post her. If you have recomendations for another pony club, go to the hub (linked at the top of the screen). Trophy Case
  2. https://www.fimfiction.net/story/218728/the-needs-of-the-many (C) 2014 I've always wanted to visit Equestria (what Brony hasn't), but I soon discover that things very rarely happen the way you intend for them to when I suddenly wind up there myself. The ponies all live in a constant state of fear as a dark gloom lingers over the land, many of them suffering from life-threatening afflictions. Not only that, but I find myself with strange new abilities. What has happened here? What's happening to me? I will soon discover that I play a major part in the survival of the pony race, but am I up for the challenge that faces me? Part I in the "Guardian Of Equestria" saga. Cover Art by ThePleonasticPotato http://thepleonasticpotato.deviantart.com/art/Ponyville-at-Night-360066446 Chapter I: The Adventure Begins My life has not been an easy one by any means. I’ve had to overcome many challenges that most people normally face and even a few that’re unique only to me. My Little Pony has served as an escape from life’s demands while at the same time bringing hope to me, giving me the means to face the uncertain future with a positive outlook. I’m relatively new to this whole fandom of Bronies and Pegasisters, but I’ve found much to enjoy within the show itself. The art style, the cheery songs, the well-developed characters, the clever and often funny writing, the engaging, relatable stories and the positive morals they teach. All of these and more have captured my attention ever since I first saw the 2-Part pilot back in February of 2014 on Netflix. It is during these viewings that I have often longed to be part of that world: The world of Equestria with its beautiful scenery, mythical creatures, and welcoming inhabitants. What I never realized is that this dream would become a reality, only nothing at all like I originally imagined. * * * * * * * * My average day typically follows the same routine. I work at a local amusement park during the summer anywhere from 5-6 days out of the week. On my days off, I’ll either lounge around at home, call up distant relatives for a chat, or even hang out with the few friends that have time to hang out with me. This includes my girlfriend of two years, who was actually the one to get me into My Little Pony. We discuss the show a lot in our free time, check out fan videos, listen to Brony artists, the whole nine yards. While I do like all of the Mane Six characters, mostly because I see different parts of me in each one of them, my personal favorite of them has to be Fluttershy. I’ve just always loved her soft-spoken caring nature that people are quick to point out that I share with her. Personality-wise though, my girlfriend says that I take more after Rainbow Dash; the whole Element of Loyalty thing playing very strongly into that. And she’s not the only one to say this. My mom has mentioned on numerous occasions how I have a very extreme sense of loyalty in regards to who and even what I associate myself with. Along with the Loyalty aspect, there are the occasions where I share the often brash nature Rainbow has. Me and my girlfriend had planned to take the weekend off from work and go up to Old Orchard Beach in Maine: our favorite vacation spot. We’ve been to plenty of other beaches before, but there’s something about Old Orchard Beach that always has us coming back again and again. I had just finished a long day at work and was making the final preparations before our trip tomorrow. Everything was packed up, my phone was charging overnight, and I had just gotten off a Skype call with my girl to make sure she was all set for us to leave tomorrow morning. With everything all set, I went to bed, looking forward to the coming trip the next day. What I would not expect is that I would be taking an entirely different trip that very night. * * * * * * * * Now before I had gone to bed, I knew that there was supposed to be a lightning storm that night, but this didn’t typically bother me as I’ve slept through many storms before. However, this storm was nothing like I had experienced at any time in my life. The loud booms of thunder were enough to make me toss and turn in my sleep, all the while just wanting them to stop. Suddenly, the loudest thunderclap I had ever heard startled me awake in a cold sweat. Nervously looking around, I discovered that something was wrong. My room was much too dark, as if there were no windows to let in light. Fumbling around in the dark, I reached for my clothes, my glasses, and my cell phone. After putting on my glasses and clothes, I used the flashlight on my phone to find my way to the door. Opening my bedroom door, I expected to step out into the upstairs hallway of my house. What I saw before me was something entirely different. Before me lay a small town with colorful buildings, cobblestone roads, and, off in the distance outside of town, a shining, crystalline castle, unique and impressive in design. As I was beholding this sight, something about it seemed strangely familiar to me, but what? After looking around I noticed a few places automatically. Town Hall. Sugarcube Corner. It all suddenly hit me: I was now in Ponyville and the castle I saw before me was the Friendship Castle from the Season 4 finale I just saw back in May. Looking around, though, something wasn’t right. The whole place was shrouded in a greyish-blue gloom, almost like something you’d see out of a Tim Burton movie like Sleepy Hollow or Sweeney Todd. It was also far too quiet. Where was everypony? Taking a few steps forward, I heard a creaking noise behind me. Turning, I saw the now camouflaged door I came through closing. Running towards it, I reached out my hand to catch it, but it closed before I could reach it, disappearing from my sight. It was at that moment when I made another discovery. Looking at my hand, I discovered that it wasn’t my normal hand. It was still a human hand, but the color of it was more pastel and the appearance of it was more like a drawing. I held both hands out in front of me and wiggled my fingers. Looking down at the rest of me, I discovered that everything about me was pastel and had the appearance of being drawn in the ever familiar flash animation style used in My Little Pony. “I’m a cartoon,” I thought out loud. Several other thoughts ran through my head in that moment. What is going on here? What the hell am I even doing here? I decided to head straight for the castle in the hopes of finding some answers. Maybe Princess Twilight would know what had happened. All I could do was go there and hope for the best. * * * * * * * * On my way to the castle, I discovered upon further inspection that some of the surrounding buildings had taken damage. Windows were shattered, doors were left hanging from hinges, and even some buildings had a charred smell from where a fire had been. What had happened here? I also heard the sounds of ponies closing their shutters as I walked through the empty streets; the only sign of life in this desolate location. The castle was a good walk away, but I finally reached it after a few minutes. Entering through the gleaming golden doors, I walked down a rather lengthy hallway. The interior was as quiet and ominous as a mausoleum. You could literally hear a pin drop. Suddenly, I heard a noise off to my right. Startled, I looked towards a nearby crystal pillar where I saw a small flash of light rose colored hair. I immediately relaxed when I realized who it was. “Wait,” I finally spoke. “I’m a friend.” There was a brief moment of silence and stillness before a face nervously poked out from behind the pillar. Sure enough, I found myself looking into the soft blue eyes of Fluttershy. In the yellow Pegasus’ eyes, I saw fear and uncertainty. This made sense to me; she hardly had any idea who I was. For all she knew, I was probably just some hairless ape with weird clothes. In order to try to gain her trust, I crouched down to her level to show her that I wasn’t a threat. “It’s O.K.,” I whispered, softly. “You can come on out. I’m not gonna hurt you.” After a few seconds of standing there, Fluttershy slowly but surely came out from behind the pillar towards me. “That’s it, Fluttershy. Nice and easy.” At the mention of her name, she froze in her tracks. Finally she spoke. “Wait. How do you know my name?” she asked, unsurely. “Uh… lucky guess? My name is David. Are you here alone?” “Oh no”-Fluttershy shook her head, softly-“Some of my pony friends are here also.” “Is Princess Twilight here? It’s really important that I-” My sentence died right there for at the mention of the princess, tears formed in Fluttershy’s eyes. “What is it?” I asked, concerned. “Was it somethin’ I said?” “Something… terrible… happened to her,” Fluttershy managed to utter through sobs. As of the past few months, I had learned one very important truth about life from the show: Few things are more heartbreaking than Fluttershy tears. It was in that moment that I leaned in to hug her, offering what little comfort I could. She accepted the hug willingly. As we were embracing, something strange happened. A bright colorful aura emanated from the two of us like the Aurora Borealis before vanishing. What was that? I thought to myself pulling away from Fluttershy. Aaaah!!!!-Fluttershy’s pupils dilated and she jumped backwards nervously-How did you talk just now? At that time, I was really startled to hear Fluttershy’s voice in my head especially seeing as she didn’t even open her mouth when she spoke. Wait a minute, I thought. Can you honestly hear my thoughts? Y-Yes, I heard her answer back mentally as she cautiously approached me again. Unbelievable. It’s almost like we’re linked together psychically. Um… I guess so. You said that something terrible had happened to Princess Twilight. She’s not dead is she? I thought, nervously. No. She’s just… The tears came to her eyes again. I reached out both hands to dry them for her. It’s O.K. You don’t have to tell me what happened to her, but do you think you could show me to her? Fluttershy nodded silently and led me towards a flight of stairs. As we climbed each step, I started to feel uneasy. What terrible fate had befallen Princess Twilight that it brought Fluttershy to tears like this? I would find out soon enough. * * * * * * * * Reaching the top of the stairs, we walked down a shorter hallway before coming to one of the doors. Entering, I saw Rainbow Dash and Spike over by a bed near the balcony windows. Upon our entrance, the two of them looked up in mine and Fluttershy’s direction. “Hey, Fluttershy,” Spike finally spoke before noticing me. “Who’s this with you?” “Um… this is David,” she answered back. “David, these are Spike and Rainbow Dash. Has her condition changed?” Rainbow Dash shook her head sadly. “I haven’t left her side since we first found her here like this in case she came to,” Rainbow Dash stated, “but as of this point she hasn’t even flinched.” Listening to this conversation, I could only assume that they were talking about Princess Twilight. I approached the bed and, sure enough, the Alicorn princess was lying there with her eyes closed and an unhappy look on her face. Seeing her like this was heartbreaking. I reached out to touch her. “What’re you doing?” Rainbow Dash snapped at me. “I’m sorry.”-I recoiled at the outburst- “I was… just checkin’ ta see if I could find a pulse or a heartbeat.” “Oh. O.K.,” Rainbow Dash answered a bit gentler. I pressed two fingers against the side of Princess Twilight’s neck just below the head and felt a slight pulse. I also heard a faint heartbeat when I placed my ear against her chest. “Was this where you originally found her? In bed I mean.” “No,” Spike answered. “We found her collapsed on the floor next to her mirror. After finding her there, we moved her to the bed.” “And she didn’t even stir as you were moving her?” “Not once.” What do you think is wrong with her? I heard Fluttershy ask in my mind. “I think she’s in some kind of a coma,” I replied. “What’s a coma?” Rainbow Dash asked, confused. I’ve never had to explain what a coma is to someone so I tried to think of the right words to say, but also make sure that they understood. “Well… a coma is… like sleep… but different.” I struggled to find the right words. “With sleep… the body rests for a brief period… and then wakes up either by itself or by someone waking it up. But a coma… lasts a much longer period of time and… isn’t the sort of thing that one can be woken up from. Only the body itself can decide when someone wakes up from a coma.” “So we have no idea when she’ll wake up or even if she’ll wake up?” Spike questioned, putting emphasis on if. I never meant for it to be taken that way, but since Spike had already brought it up, I found no need to sugarcoat it. “Sadly yes,” my expression dropped. Rainbow Dash stared at the comatose princess with a look of worry on her face. “She was the one who first brought the rest of us together as friends,” she stated, sadly. “To think that she might not…” As Rainbow’s voice slowly trailed off, I walked over to her and placed a hand on her shoulder as a way of reassuring her. “I understand how hard this must be for you… for all of you, but Princess Twilight needs y’all ta stay strong for her.” Rainbow Dash nodded as, just like with Fluttershy, the Aurora Borealis aura glowed from the two of us for a few seconds. Whoa. Déjà vu, I thought to myself as I removed my hand from Rainbow Dash’s shoulder. Sweet mother of Celestia! Rainbow Dash’s voice echoed in my head as she jumped back. How are you talking without moving your lips? Wait. You can read my thoughts now too? Umm... I guess so, Rainbow replied, a bit unsure of herself. Why are you asking? Because the same thing happened to me and Fluttershy just a few minutes ago. Who are you talking to? I heard Fluttershy think. Rainbow Dash, I answered back. What? Rainbow Dash asked. No I was talking to Fluttershy. She can talk to you this way too? Yes she can. I can what? Fluttershy thought. At that point, I’d had enough of these two’s voices inside my head. “O.K. just stop!” I finally shouted. “Enough with this… psychic talkin’ you guys.” “What psychic talking?” Spike asked, totally confused. “The psychic talkin’ that happens whenever I touch somebo- uh… some… pony. Like this.” I reached over and touched Spike. However, when I touched Spike, nothing happened. I tried touching him again and again, but still nothing, aside from him laughing. “Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Please stop,” he begged through a fit of cackling. “I’m very ticklish.” “That’s weird,” I remarked, looking down at my hand. “Why wouldn’t it work?” “I don’t know,” Fluttershy answered back. “Maybe it only works on ponies.” “Maybe. Is there another pony here that we can test it on?” “Well our friend Pinkie Pie is out on the balcony,” Rainbow Dash commented. “That could work.” “Fluttershy, you and Spike go with him while I stay with Twilight.” “If you don’t mind, I think I’ll stay here with Twilight also,” Spike replied. “K.” Me and Fluttershy then headed out onto the balcony where we saw Pinkie Pie sitting there all alone. Her mane and tail didn’t have their usual bouncy appearance, but instead were flat and straight. Whatever was going on, she was clearly feeling depressed. “Pinkie Pie?” I spoke. Whether she was suddenly startled by my mentioning her name or if she was just naturally high strung, Pinkie let out a “Yipe”, jumped several feet into the air, did a 180, then landed facing us. Once she saw Fluttershy, she relaxed a little more, but was still slightly tense at the sight of me. “Fluttershy, who is this and how does he know my name?” she asked, slightly suspiciously. “Um… this is David and he knows your name because Rainbow Dash told him,” she answered back. “Oh. O.K. then. Nice to meet you, Davey.” No one has called me “Davey” since about 15 years ago when I was just a kid. Strangely enough though, hearing Pinkie call me by that name was soothingly pleasant, even bringing a smile to my face. “Likewise,” I replied. “So whatcha doin’ out here?” “Keeping lookout for whenever our friends Applejack and Rarity return.” “Where are they now?” “They went into the Everfree Forest looking for their sisters, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle, as well as their sisters’ friend, Scootaloo,” Fluttershy explained. “How long ago did they leave?” “It’s been almost four hours now,” Pinkie stated, nervously. “I’m really starting to worry about them. What if something terrible happened to them?” “Don’t worry. I’m sure they’re fine.” “But what if-” Pinkie’s sentence was cut off by her making a gagging noise as if choking. She collapsed to the floor as Fluttershy panicked. “Fluttershy, go get Rainbow Dash and Spike,” I told her, all the while trying to remain calm. “Tell ‘em it’s a matter of life 'n death.” Fluttershy nodded swiftly and headed back inside while I ran over to Pinkie. I panicked as she lost consciousness. Without thinking, I reached my hand out to touch her. Upon touching her, the Aurora Borealis aura appeared and then vanished. Pinkie then regained consciousness, gasping for breath. That was super scary, I heard her think, terrified. Are you O.K.? I asked mentally. I think so. Wait a minute. What’re you doing in my head? I don’t know. This has been happening with every pony I’ve come in contact with so far. First Fluttershy, then Rainbow Dash, and now you. That’s kinda freaky, but also kinda cool. Do you know what had happened to you? No. I was just talking and then I suddenly found it hard to breathe. Almost like when you laugh soo hard you stop breathing except this wasn’t funny at all. At that moment, Fluttershy, Spike, and Rainbow Dash came rushing out. “What happened?” Rainbow Dash questioned, nervously. “What’s wrong?” “Nothing now,” Pinkie answered. “Wait. Weren’t you choking when I went to get them?” Fluttershy asked, slightly confused. “I was, but then Davey here saved me.” “How?” “I’m not sure,” I spoke. “I was panickin’ and I reached out ta touch her when that strange aura appeared. When it vanished, not only could we hear each other’s thoughts, but she was also fully healed.” “Weird,” Spike commented. “Tell me about it,” I stated, frustratedly. “What’s goin’ on? Why is this happenin’ to me?” “I have no idea,” Rainbow Dash answered. “Maybe Princess Celestia will know. Spike, have you been able ta contact her at all since all this has happened?” “I sent her an urgent letter, but she hasn’t responded,” Spike replied. “It’s been almost a day now.” “Something’s happenin’.” “What do you think it is?” Pinkie asked. "I don’t know, but I don’t like it. Rainbow Dash, I need you ta fly ta Canterlot as fast as your wings can carry you. Find out why there hasn’t been any answer from her.” “You got it.” Rainbow Dash offered a salute before taking to the sky. “The three of you, stay here and keep an eye on Princess Twilight ‘til my return.” “Why?” Fluttershy questioned, nervously. “Where are you going?” “Ta the Everfree Forest. Someone needs ta make sure that the others are O.K. Besides, I think I know a pony who just might be able ta explain what’s goin’ on.” --- Author's Note: Chapter originally published September 24th, 2014 on fimfiction.net. If you enjoy this story and have a FIMFiction account, please consider supporting the original release on https://www.fimfiction.net/story/218728/the-needs-of-the-many. "Thumbs up" would help out a lot and, if you're without a FIMFiction account, don't worry. You can still look forward to chapters being released here every Friday. Same Pony Time. Same Pony Channel. Any support at all would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  3. Note: Over the last month-plus, some content originally leaked (e.g., the Student Six's names, episode titles, some summaries) have been officially revealed, and chances are more will, too. But as always, please keep all leaked content not officially revealed yet — and/or if you're unsure if you're revealing too much — under the "spoiler" tag. (Hit the eye icon to trigger it and type within it.) Title: Fake It 'Til You Make It Air Date (U.S./Disc. Family): April 7 at 11:30am Writer(s): Josh Hamilton Summary: "When Fluttershy is the only pony available to look after the Manehattan boutique while Rarity is away, she takes on a series of characters to cope with the intimidating clientele and learns that she was already the best pony for the job just by being herself." Remember to join us at the CMC Clubhouse on Equestria.tv! Episode will be linked after it airs. DM:
  4. Got this at Hot Topic. I've never been more happy about a shirt in my life. Also, it's a very good Fluttershy reference.
  5. HUB Welcome everypony to MLP Forum's own Mane Six fan club! Source I'm aware that all of the Mane Six ponies have their own individual clubs, but this is the place for fans of all of the ponies as a group to hang out! Everyone is welcome to join in on posting Mane Six artwork, fan videos, music, comics, avatars, banners, and any other creative media that you wish to share. It can be your own work, or just something you found on the internet. There will also be occasional discussions pertaining to the Mane Six, as well as polls from time to time. These are completely optional, so feel free to discuss whatever you'd like to, as long as it's relevant to the club. - No, you don't have to love every one of the Mane Six ponies to join the club, but I do hope you at least like all of them to some extent. This is for positive discussions, so no hatred for any members of the group please. This is simply a place to come in and appreciate the main cast. - No fighting over who is best pony. Be respectful. Yes, we all have a personal favorite, and you can talk about your favorite all you want, but no arguing over which character is better please. If anyone has any questions, comments, concerns, suggestions, or ideas, please speak up. I would really like for this club to be successful, so I am all ears. Let's get the ball rolling with a pic:
  6. ~WELCOME TO THE FLUTTERSHY <3 DISCORD FAN CLUB!~ Feel free to share anything to do with your favourite pony and draconequus couple (or friends, if you prefer :3); forum rules and commonsense apply~ ~FANFICS~ Have fun!
  7. Rainbow Dash was not out of character in "2 4 6 Greaaat". Rainbow isn't into cheer leading mostly because she sees it as to girly but just cheering for a friend is different. She mostly only knows cheering from her parents when they were cheering from the sidelines and what she knows by them is just the basics, so just teaching Fluttershy the basics of cheering is for the sidelines. Even in season 4 "Rainbow Falls" yes Twilght and Pinkie were wearing cheerleader outfits and were cheering for Ponyville but still they were just cheering not cheer leading, even with those outfits. Rainbow also looked uncomfortable when the 2 cheerleaders for Cloudsdale were cheering around her she only smiled a little for those 2 before she returned to the Ponyville team. Rainbow Dash is a tomboy being into sports, but not the cheerleaders and doesn't pay attention and/or as she said in "2 4 6 Greaaat" ponies get snacks during it. She never has been interested into cheer leading and only the basics of cheering in general but nothing about the overall process of cheer leading makes sense.
  8. Note: Expanded from my forum post. Credits to comments by @BornAgainBrony, @Truffles, and @Ittoni for the review. This whole episode is packed with lots of smaller details, which on rewatch go a long way. One of the first instances is this exchange between AK and her former fans. At first, it looks like a throwaway line that Groom Q.Q. Martingale threw in there. But in the beginning of Act 2, that concerned filly returns to her book signing, where we see more of this exchange: During my rewatch of the saga last month, I assumed it referred to kicking away the wild cats, one of them a housecat, during Daring Don't. But those weren’t accidents; she tried to defend herself. Despite her initial denial, she finally admitted to not only accidentally kicking a puppy, but didn’t put it in any of her books. Why does this small exchange matter? The Daring Do Series is a series of autobiographical events, but because she’s trying to sell stories to children as well, she sanitizes, alters, and omits things that might disinterest or repulse the audience. She edits each book to make the stories more sellable and sells the books as fiction. For a long time, that tactic worked; each "character" has become memorable, and there's a huge Daring Do fandom out there. Now it's starting to backfire. It opens the door for the possibility of more laying beneath to the whole Daring Do saga. Remember, the series is written in third-person limited perspective, every adventure in Daring’s point of view. Groom Q.Q. Martingale's opens that point of view, painting her stories in a more negative light while still making sense. More importantly, Caballeron’s response becomes more credible to the general audience. Yes, he’s scheming to steal the Truth Talisman of Tonatiuh, but because of the editing of her own book, she opens things up for him to explain his own side and sprinkle truths both big and small that she didn’t tell. As omissions and inaccuracies big and small add up, doubt clouds the Daring fanbase's head, which Fluttershy and the little filly represent. Innocuous details like the flower being the wrong color now implicate she has something to hide. During that exchange, Dash busts back in to warn A.K. that Caballeron is bringing Fluttershy along to Tenochtitlan. During the frantic warning, she looks around to see if anyone was around (not seeing the filly), just to see if no one is sneaking around. Like Dash herself, A.K. Yealing forgets about the child, revealing her original identity as Daring Do to the filly's shock and delight. Despite the growing scandal, some ponies still idolize her and want to grow up to be just like her. Another one comes in Fluttershy's first scene in the Tenochtitlan Basin. Notice his twinkling highlights and small smile as she tames Ahuizotl's jungle cats. For the first time all series, he shows sincere appreciation for someone other than himself. Usually greedy and selfish, he watched firsthand how much someone's selflessness and unconditional caring mattered. He brought her over to trick her; despite carrying that trickery throughout, his plan began to both crack and evolve. Yet, that crack didn't quite begin there. After Caballeron scolded at Rogue for almost poisoning himself, what does she do? Take out her traveling picnic with apple juice to Caballeron's surprise and share her lunch with them out of appreciation. Rather than snub her, he and his henchponies accept her generosity. Had this not happen, Caballeron's appreciation for Fluttershy from that point forward won't make sense. From the very beginning, Fluttershy was convinced that there's more to the Daring Do saga than what A.K. Yearling told through her books, even though she witnessed Caballeron and Ahuizotl firsthand commit bad actions. Talking personally with Caballeron while in the bookstore only made her more curious. So, was she gullible and naive? Absolutely. However, her naivety is much more believable compared to buying a too-good-to-be-true rag doll from Flim and Flam during Best Gift Ever, and one key moment shows she isn't that gullible: This indicates awareness of the events and an expectancy of Caballeron to try to explain the problem. So how does he respond? With a plausible alibi surrounding a museum that closed down from lack of funds. Daring's long history of storing many sacred artifacts on her shelves, destroying temples older than the Royal Sisters, and thus the homes of many animals (something she cares about deeply) also invited questions on her behalf. While she listened to and questioned him, he explained his lies while remaining grounded to Equestrian reality, and his book while under Martingale has enough credentials to sway many ex-fans. Additionally, she was very well aware throughout that Martingale was Caballeron, talked to him as if he was Caballeron, and never reacted at all when he reveals his identity to her. Also, Fluttershy never wavers her unconditional kindness regardless of any circumstance. During the entire expedition, she stayed true to her embodied Element of Harmony and exemplified it wherever she went. In each scene, Caballeron and his gang slowly show appreciation for it, both subtly and obviously. Beyond the examples from above: At the closure of the first expedition scene, Biff, Rogue, and Withers smile in thanks for Fluttershy. At the base outside of Tonatiuh's pyramid, Caballeron yells at Biff for suggesting to take a shortcut, and Biff feels disrespected by him despite being second-in-command. Fluttershy reassures him that he will and she believes in him (which happens inside the central room). Once they reach the top, Withers relaxes under shade, unaware that he was under an active, dangerous flyder hive. Instinctively, she whispers to stay still and called the flyders away for just a moment so he can escape. Again, Dr. C smiles appreciatively. On an unrelated note, Tonatiuh is the Aztec god of the sun, and the only way to enter his temple is to place a sacred relic in a pedestal once the sun reaches its apex. If intentional, clever tie-in to its mythology. Inside the temple, Caballeron tricks Fluttershy to getting the Truth Talisman of Tonatiuh (I'll get back to it in a sec), and once she retrieves it, lava spurts out. Previously, Caballeron and his henchmen were somewhat cowardly and only went after the treasure. If something bad was going to happen, they'd leave it behind. That doesn't happen here. Instead, they instinctively knock down a totem pole, and Caballeron rescues Fluttershy from certain death. Again, they didn't have to do this, but they chose to rescue her and save her. Yes, they retrieved the talisman, but because of her kindness, they returned the favor. Fluttershy's naivety in this scene, however, is problematic in two areas: Throughout almost all of Daring Doubt, Dr. Caballeron was very competent. However, his use of false despair to convince Fluttershy to fly up and steal Tonatiuh's talisman wasn't convincing whatsoever and lazy. By falling for his bad acting, she crosses from being just gullible into becoming dumb. Fluttershy reveals to having no idea that Caballeron planned to trick her the whole time. If Fluttershy knew beforehand he was scheming yet went along, it subverts the idea that she was too gullible, instead showing she knew what she was doing. OTOH, it also makes her really reckless, implicating she knows Caballeron poorly acted, yet helped him steal the talisman and put her own life at risk. Right after he reveals to lie to her, he soon reveals that he valued her kindness and friendship, a smaller subversion in and of itself and downplays unneeded drama, but it also lessens the weight of his small change of heart. Caballeron revealing his lie through the Truth Talisman could've gone either way with varying implications. The canonical path, as stated before, shows her unconditional kindness, especially after her ignorance towards Angel's needs fueled the conflict, but it made her look way too naïve and made his eventual understanding of FS's kindness at the end feel too lucky. OTOH, had Fluttershy showed controlled kindness, then you risk repeating the unfortunate implications of controlling Discord's channels of communication in the form of "kindness" from Keep Calm. Personally, I prefer the innocent path here, but it could've showed a more nuanced degree of taking elements from both. Now to focus on the other side, Rainbow Dash was written much better here compared to 2, 4, 6, Greaaat. To echo @BornAgainBrony, Daring Doubt is a shining example of giving Dash negative traits without making her out of character or miserable. Yes, her rush to judgment was written in the wrong, but at no point does Dubuc demonize her for her black-and-white "good guy, bad guy" assumptions. With the allotted time given to her, Dubuc rightfully justifies her prejudices. Daring Do and Rainbow Dash are both very good friends and better confidants. Whenever she's about to publish something new, she delivers a copy to her two weeks in advance. The entire main crew, especially Dash, is trusted by her to keep her identity a secret. BTW: >RM6 out her in Fame & Misfortune >episode retcons the journal again Not the first episode to handwave this atrocity's existence! As a result of Daring and Dash trust each other, they exchange information and secrets. If something goes wrong, Daring knows Dash will be there to try to help. Here, that's exactly what happened. When Dash first sees Groom Q.Q. Martingale, she immediately recognizes him as Caballeron despite a much more complicated disguise, an immediate improvement of Daring Done. Watching Fluttershy buy into Caballeron's story was a major shock; she has every right to be upset and urgently warn Daring about what he was after and why he manipulated her like that. No one can argue how abrasive and pushy she was here. But Caballeron began yet another scheme, decided to tag someone along to unknowingly help him retrieve the Truth Talisman to get rich quick, and took her to a temple with very dangerous traps (one in which FS got caught in minutes later). Her worries are perfectly justified. Imagine if Fluttershy got hurt — she wouldn't forgive herself for not interfering sooner! Once Caballeron admitted through the talisman that he lied, she got right in his face, as any good friend would. But then he admits through it his and his henchmen's gratitude for Fluttershy's kindness and generosity, Dash's edge immediately dissipates: Ditto. Speaking of lines, the dialogue during the escape (especially those influenced by the truth teller) was top notch, and some of the lines were really, really funny. Some of the best are: Caballeron fighting with the talisman, finally relenting to reveal he still held onto Lapis-Lux's diamond. Clever, clever. Perfect timing to sneak in a clever "Day" Off callback, eh? Now, let's talk about the thorn peaking out from the pond. Ahuizotl has earned a reputation in the Daring Do books as one of the most memorable villains within the fanbase. In reality, both he and Daring have been massive archenemies, even though Dr. C's an even bigger one. Several times, he has tried to kill Daring Do in order to prevent her from taking relics throughout the Basin. In Daring Don't, he searched for ones himself — the Rings of Scorchero — to trap Tenochtitlan Basin in a massive heatwave, only for Daring and her friends to foil his plan. One of her latest books involved Ahuizotl heading to Somnambula to separate the Doomed Diadem of Xilati from the Tiara of Teotlale (a.k.a., the Sister Crown Relics), and Daring raced the clock to steal it back and return it home before a cursed night was cast over the land and Somnambula was sunk beneath the sand. Daring Doubt shifts things a bit, at first accusing Daring of getting by his jungle cat army and then attempting to steal Tonatiuh's talisman, even though he has no idea that Caballeron and Fluttershy are inside. After they escape, we don't see him again, but once we do, he's furious. Not just an evil furious. He was at his angriest throughout the show's history. Despite his history as a villain, who can blame him. It was safe and secure, and from his reaction, he clearly did NOT want it stolen. And he shows the knowledge of Tonatiuh's temple by waiting for them at the main exit, and his anger really takes over. He wanted to retrieve that talisman and play no games, going so far as to cornering them in a dead end and ramming into it, threatening to hurt them and trap them under the temple rubble until they return it. At this point, Daring accidentally gives Fluttershy what may be the solution: Think about this. They steal the talisman, and he becomes supremely upset when he catches them. She's the only one astute enough to understand that something was missing, this being why he got so mad, and the only way to solve it was to confront Ahuizotl himself. Dash justifiably assumes that he's "just a bad guy," but FS realizes that the world sometimes operate so one-dimensionally. On one hand, Ahuizotl's explanation for being ferocious and violent has some merit, something both @Ittoni and @BornAgainBrony explain in their posts in the episode discussion. Throughout the series, Daring and Caballeron have been taking artifacts throughout Tenochtitlan Basin, and in doing so, many ancient pyramids have been destroyed. Whether it's in the name of profit or protection, they're still stealing from them and displacing them, which each carry massive consequences. Ahuizotl is given charge to protect not only the basin, but also the artifacts of these same ancient beings. For those who watched the series throughout, this explains quite a bit why he and his crew of Aztec ponies searched for those rings, began the ceremony inside the dark tower, and came so close to beginning that heatwave within the basin. If he completed his plan, then neither Daring nor Caballeron would rob the temples again without potentially deadly consequences. Also, I see why the episode establishes him as a guardian in the first place; he's sly, territorial, knowledgeable, and old enough to know every nook and cranny of Tenochtitlan Basin from the back of his three hands. But thanks to Cabby and Daring's rivalry, he's caught in the crossfire and at risk of being replaced; Tonatiuh's talisman being the tip of that sun ray. On the other, it overlooks a very specific piece of continuity, which was ironically referenced in Act 1: Why did he travel to Somnambula, allegedly separate the Sister Crown Relics, put hundreds of lives at risk, and cause Daring to go on one of her most dangerous journeys? What made him decide to apparently team up with the Wild Bunch Gang to steal Xilati's diadem from where it belonged? None of this was answered, which it should've. He did many things both in the main and secondary canon that we would consider evil, and this would easily be his worst. Given how Daring Doubt tried to explain his actions and make us at least understand his position, you can argue one of two answers. By forcing Daring and Caballeron to go to Somnambula, there's a chance that both of them would get stuck there and sink under the ground, which would keep every relic in Tenochtitlan Basin safe. With them out of the way, he won't have to worry so much about them grave-robbing anymore. Since this plot is about clearing up misunderstandings by listening to others, there's also the likelihood that he was caught in the crossfire. The gang chased her through Somnambula after she retrieved the Doomed Diadem from them and apparently Ahuizotl. Could Ahuizotl have been trying to recover it too, only to be caught in the crossfire? Given how the books are in her perspective, it makes his motives look more sinister than she believed. Theory #2 is more in character to the portrayal of his rivalry with Daring and Daring Doubt's dismantling of Daring's limited perspective of the journeys. But without a clear answer, we can only guess what truly happened and must rely on headcanon to fill in the gaps as well as reviewing little, overlooked details from previous episodes. An episode with this important a moral and with a very gray perspective of humanity must be treated with respect. Is it? I argue yes, but if others don't, I can see why. Ahuizotl's apparent trip to Somnambula may not have been that important in Daring Done, but when observing the arc as a whole, this plot point is now crucial in overall scope. Unfortunately, this resolution fails to deliver any explanation, much less a decent one, creating a massive plot hole in a worldbuilding idea that never fully delivered. Therefore, Daring Doubt doesn't adequately explain why Ahuizotl acted so violent this whole time. Fortunately, this episode's resolution isn't completely unsalvageable. Review all of the reformations over the seasons, from Diamond Tiara to Starlight to Sunset. What do they all have in common? In some way or another, they all change their ways, even if their personalities don't. What happens here isn't a true-to-FIM reformation or redemption, which — again — @BornAgainBrony points out well. Nobody agreed to anything other than a truce related to Tenochtitlan Basin. As long as neither of them steal treasures or destroy the temples, Ahuizotl won't come after and threaten them. But that doesn't mean their feud won't continue anywhere else. Daring Do will still hunt for treasure and store them however she can so no one else can destroy or desecrate them, while Caballeron's greed remains (only without one sidekick ). What this episode establishes is how despite being enemies, neither of them truly have any moral high ground. No true good or bad guys exist in the reality of Daring Do; Fluttershy has that wherewithal to deliver an objective perspective to help put them all on the same page and listen to one another. Plus, @Truffles points out an important distinction between Ahuizotl's explanations and Garble's reformation from 9A. Throughout the series, DHX established Garble as a petty, stereotypical teenager with a lust to pick on Spike whenever possible, and will threaten anyone if he doesn't get his way. However, Sweet & Smoky tries to introduce a more sensitive side to his personality by being close to his younger sister Smolder, who's more open to his quirks and talents. Thanks to his past actions, his secretive side's hard to sell, even after he opens himself up to save the baby dragons from freezing to death inside their eggshells. Daring Do's triangular feud here lacked that key position of listening from the get-go, and creating a series of limited-perspective books that prop up Daring's status as a hero only invited extra questions about the lore. Until the climax, nobody ever asked Ahuizotl about his behavior before, evident by how taken aback he was to FS's question. Daring's urgent line in trying to figure out an escape route and Fluttershy's awareness created a plausible out for a truce. This review, though, won't be complete without praising the ending. How hilarious is it that after trying very hard to avenge his losses over the years, his decision to become a best-selling author himself would be his most successful path. The way he presents himself to the audience makes him credible, and patting his hair as he reads is a nice touch. All in all, Daring Doubt dares to deconstruct the world of Daring Do. At times, it works. At times it doesn't. But overall, the good heavily outweighs the bad. I like it a lot, and rough edges aside, it's nicely done. It's a good episode and the best one of the Daring Do arc.
  9. https://www.fimfiction.net/story/370173/the-guardian (C)2017 A common human Alex gets transferred to Equestria. Desperate to return home at first, he starts noticing himself changing. Time comes for him to decide for Equestria destiny. Will he conform? Which path will he choose? Are Celestia's fears justified? Here is the story of a human, despite being an alien in Equestria, not being an outcast, a door mat or a toy for ponies. His misery comes from inside, painfully at first he accommodates. Equestria changes him and time will come to return the debt. 1. Arrival A fierce lightning bolt ripped thick clouds and speared into the ruined castle tower so heavily that it made debris and dust fly in the damp air. When the mess settled a bit, partially taken down by the rain, which became really strong at that moment, it revealed the electric discharge being so strong that it carved a deep notch in the stone floor of what previously had been the upper room of the tower. At least when it had a roof. Now, as the rain poured inside freely, it made the strange curled figure in the middle of the lightning carved pit feel quite uncomfortable. Because seconds later a young man gasped and cringed in pain from the feeling of a bunch of burning snakes slithering through his entire body. “Oh, my…” He wheezed faintly. “What in the name of the creator just happened?” Slowly and painfully he kneeled. Perhaps it was not the best idea, as nausea struck him mercilessly, so he almost crashed back on the floor. But lying on the stone floor in the pool of rain water, which started gathering in the pit he found himself in, was neither. He realized that he started to freeze in the cold wind, blowing through glassless windows of what he recognized to be some sort of a ruin. That wasn’t nearly nice. His skin burned and reddened, as if he had gone through some fire, but thankfully it wasn’t burnt too much, yet it hardly made the feel better. His clothes now looked like a few shreds of the shirt hanging from the collar and cuffs, some remnants of the jeans wrapping around his legs and annoyingly getting in the way, the rest was completely ruined, burned as well. The charred edges and familiar smell spoke for themselves. At least he had his boxers and boots intact, the former simply missed their chance to burn, being under the rest of the clothes, and the latter were well made of thick leather for man’s sheer luck. “Great,” He muttered to himself, shivering as another thunder strike rolled in the sky. “At least I don’t need to go barefoot…” “Go where?” A sudden uneasy thought came to his mind. “And where exactly I should go from?” Still feeling dizzy, he got on his feet and tried to look around. With the bright lightning flash he got an image of a medium size round room full of stone and wooden debris. It could be anything before, totally unrecognizable now as it was hardly the first thunderstorm hitting the unmaintained building. The roof fell in long ago, showing a few broken beams, which couldn’t stop the wind and rains from doing their destructive job. What could be some furniture, books, anything else now lay in decay. The time-worn chandelier, lying on the floor under the large boulder, appeared to be the most durable thing there. The only attention-worthy thing in that room was a square opening in the floor near the wall. Surely it looked like an entryway to a bottomless pit in the darkness, but it couldn’t be really that bad. For all, what he knew about castles… “Castle!” He caught himself screaming that in full voice. “What the flying hell is going on?” “I can’t remember any castles nearby,” He said to himself, calming down a bit. “Damn, not nearby, not in the whole region, hundreds of miles round neither. What has happened to me?” “Well,” He grinned painfully. “One step at a time, Alex, one step at a time…” At least he remembered his name. Seemed not that bad, right? If only it could be worse actually. So… For all, what he knew about castles, they were made of stone and with the priority of safety and stability in mind. So, hardly the owners, builders, whoever stupidly jumped in the pit, there must be stairs under that opening. Hopefully stone ones, which haven’t been destroyed by the time, unlike wooden hatch on the opening – a few planks still hung on the ancient door hinges. With another lightning Alex indeed saw dark, narrow stone stairs made slippery from the rain. He thought it was time to leave the open room – bombs never hit the same pit twice, but it was a lightning storm and… the day was “strange”. So he decided to err on the side of caution. He ripped the rags – which were once his shirt and pants – off his hands, neck and legs. ‘Off you go,’ Alex threw them in a pile on the floor. ‘No warmth from you anyway, yet another chance to stumble or catch something and fall all the way nobody-knows-how-far down.’ He stepped on the spiral staircase, sticking to the outer wall and touching it with his left hand. He didn’t smoke and had no lighter or matches… And even if he did, that wouldn’t have helped him as all he had vanished with his jacket. As he remembered the stairs were not wider than the hatch. God only knew if there were beams, landings or even anything in the middle. He caught himself on the feeling that the wind became chilling in the tube of the tower… or was that staircase itself to blame. Alex was afraid of heights. “I’m not taking any chances,” smirked Alex to himself sticking closer to the wall. * The car ate mile by mile of the empty Sunday road. Oncoming traffic was minimal and Alex could focus on his plans and expectations while driving. Surely not every 25-years-old man could think of a better career – benefits of the well planned and qualitative education, personal determination and, let’s be honest pure luck, but what job doesn’t require at least some luck – an IT specialist in a profit-making company capable of having personal transport, simple but comfortable apartment and no Damocles sword of debts hanging over the head. Well, he really deserved it. Starting from the “ground level”, working with hardware, through endless night shifts, he finally noticed that it naturally started paying back. He could manage everything he came across his daily routines, but sometimes the feeling of completion was slightly tinted with regret. He could have spent more time with parents, with his almost-a-girlfriend. They were neither officially engaged nor limited themselves by any obligations… yet, but Elen was just-the-right-person for Alex. They understood each other wordlessly, they always found time to help each other, they could trust themselves being a stronghold one for another and above all, they both could easily make each other laugh happily or feel safe and serene, when it was necessary. No wonder Alex wanted to give Elen more attention. But living forced him to prioritize. And it was rare chance to get to the next level of personal freedom and gain. He was offered a job in another company. Same IT field, almost the same duties, but in fact it was a direct promotion from the level he currently had. They have practically been ready to give him a whole subdivision to lead, obviously, that meant bigger income and further career opportunities. In common terms, it meant a private house after a short while and an ability to move in with his special somebody, whom he already asked about and got cheerful consent. Truth to be told, Elen would have been happy to join him in the old place without any special conditions long ago, but he didn’t ask and she didn’t find it acceptable to suggest herself. Of course, it also meant moving to another city, but wasn’t it better done, while his parents were not too old and he could freely build his life? Besides, it was a neighboring city, not another country or another planet, it was only a few hours ride. Considering all that Alex took a couple of days off to visit the new place and make the final decision. The new company was ready to give him from a couple of weeks to a month to make all arrangements at his old job and quit with as much dignity as it was possible. So he planned his days off to be Monday and Tuesday, thus having all weekend plus two days for a safe trip and acquaintance. A few raindrops fell, leaving curvy tracks on the windshield. Alex frowned and raised the side window – the wind became stronger and blew some dust inside. He heard the muffled sound of distant thunder, then a bright flash sparkled in the sky. Soon the whole road ahead was barely visible through the heavy rain. Alex slowed down his car and turned on the lights. Thunderstorms were never a rarity in May, but as long as Alex remembered, there wasn’t any in that day prognosis. They promised warm, even hot, for that time of the year, sunny day without any precipitation. The whole cataclysm started all of the sudden. A few seconds ago it was warm and clear and in a moment the storm began… and the car didn’t even cover a mile during that change. Flashes of lightning followed now one by one in a matter of a few seconds and Alex slowed down even more, when one of them lit a road sign at the shoulder – sharp turn. It was even darker here; the whole road was covered by the shadow of an enormous tree on the nearby hill. Alex could swear, he had never seen any of that size in his life. It was shimmering with millions of silvery green leaves on swaying in the wind branches. Alex thought it was very strange that no lightning yet struck that giant tree, despite it was standing as the only lightning-conductor in a few miles radius. He also thought, if that tree was guilty of quite a few road accidents every month, as the whole view was simply marvelous and there hardly was a driver, who didn’t lavish it with an extra amazed look. Next thing he saw were headlights of the oncoming car, which apparently moved considerably faster than reasonable on such a turn, with that kind of weather. The driver managed to swerve past him. Alex took a glance in the mirror and saw the car started sliding uncontrollably on the road, then it hit a smaller tree behind the road shoulder and stopped. Alex pressed the brakes all the way down, risking repeating that driver’s “trick”. He stopped at the wayside and turned off the engine. “Merlin’s pants, I hope the poor bastards are alright,” he thought, when he rushed to the crash site. “What did they think about, when they were driving that fast… or were they just looking at that damned tree mammoth only?” There was a woman behind the wheel in that car, she managed to get out herself. More shocked than hurt. She was still shaking off that dizziness, when Alex took off his jacket and pushed in her hands. “The inner pocket,” he looked in her eyes to ensure that she understood him. “Take the phone and call the emergency.” He already saw that there was one more person in the car, who definitely needed more help. A girl on the back seat, clutching something yellow and pink and evidently terrified and shocked. Alex tried to open her door, then the door on the other side to find both were jammed, while the girl’s mother was making a call. Gasoline trailed up his nose and Alex realized, it was the matter of moments. He climbed into the car through the driver’s door and took out the keys. Still, he could swear, he heard the dreading sound of the sparkles somewhere under the hood. He then turned to the girl and forced himself to smile in the most soothing way possible in that situation. “Hey, hold on, we’re going to get you and your… pony friend out,” he noticed the toy in her hands. “Just a moment longer.” He then climbed over the front seat and unlocked the belt. The poor little one clutched to him hardly less than to her pony. She didn’t cry, only whimpered like a deadly scared kitten. Alex found that it was nearly impossible to get the shocked child out of the car the same way he got into. She was near the panic attack already. “It’s raining, your pony needs some cover,” whispered he in her ear, while pulling girl’s head to his chest and covering her from any damage. He then twisted and hit the rear window with all the strength he could afford. After the second blow the glass gave up and out. Alex grabbed the girl and pushed her out of the car through the opening. “Here, take her and get away from the car,” he breathed out. “Thank you, thank you…” Tears mixed with the rain on the mother’s face, when she got her treasure. She then backed off the car with the daughter in her hands; suddenly Alex saw, how her eyes widely opened in terror. “Please, hurry, get out now!” She shrieked on the top of her lungs. Next thing he heard was a zapping sound and the car got lit from the bottom by inflamed gasoline. And then the world around him dissolved in an unendurable white flash and the sound of thunder. * So the last thing he remembered, when the world around was normal, if being fried and electrocuted in a crashed car could be considered nearly normal (well at least it was real), was bright blinding light. That was the first thing he experienced here. But wasn’t the rest around him real too? Alex stopped. Wondering how silly that idea looked he took a small portion of the skin on his arm and pinched it as hard as possible for the resulting feeling to be enough to tell if he was dreaming. “DAAAAAAMN IT!” The roar rolled down the tower, causing the rumbling echo in the corridors below. ‘Merlin’s pants, that was convincing!’ Alex cringed. He was into RPG and fantasy, so it sometimes came afloat with the strong feelings. Unsure if Merlin had indeed something to do about all that Alex noted that the feeling of burning snakes inside him didn’t go away, it simply faded, muffled by more actual problems. Besides, he realized he was freezing cold already and started to shake. Like if that wasn’t enough, his legs started feeling numb, as the whole way down the stairs wasn’t that easy, despite being only a few minutes long. He saw absolutely nothing and was to proceed really slow, trying to feel the wall with his fingers and stairs with his feet. The tower had no windows and, while it could be lit by some torches (somehow Alex felt that there were exactly the torches or candles, never the electric light), when it was in its full glory, now it was pitch black all over. ‘I must be thankful for being claustrophobic not,’ grinned Alex. ‘Otherwise, I would probably be stuck in the upper room forever.’ ‘So, what do I have now?’ he tried to summarize his score. ‘I was on the ride to a work appointment, when it started raining cats’n’dogs all of a sudden. I couldn’t see the road well enough, so I slowed down.’ ‘And there was that sharp turn. And that tree nearby!’ The memory came so vividly, almost highlighted by a thunderbolt. ‘Yeah, there was the thunderbolt, the flash which made the whole surroundings visible, despite the clouds and rain.’ ‘That tree was enormous, I wondered if it was more than a thousand years old. There were quite a few such trees in the whole country, and that was probably the biggest one,’ Alex also thought that he had wondered exactly, if many drivers got into accidents, being distracted by the mere look of that silver-green giant. ‘Then another car appeared. It was moving too fast for those road conditions, no wonder they noticed me too late.’ As he remembered, that car lost control, as its driver tried to avoid the collision on the wet road. It slid by and crashed into one of the smaller trees at the road shoulder. The woman, who drove it, got out by herself, but the rear doors jammed after the impact. And there was a girl, about eight years old, on the back seat of that car. Alex remembered that he had stopped at the shoulder, and rushed to the damaged car, risking to fall on the slippery ground. He had taken off his jacket and threw it to the woman, who seemed to be a complete wreck. There was a cell phone in the inner pocket. Alex told her to call the emergency and climbed inside her car. Taking the keys out didn’t ease the situation – he could feel the smell of gas quickly forming a pool under the car… and there were those damned sparkling sounds somewhere. Alex tried to calm himself. Panic was nowhere near useful for solving problems. And he was afraid that he could scare the girl even more. She sat there, curling almost in a small ball; she wasn’t crying or panicking, just quietly whimpering. There was hope in her wide opened eyes… He tried to open the rear doors only to find they both were jammed, then he told her to duck, and hit the rear window with his foot. It got covered in the web of cracks, but stayed, damn those tinting films. He hit once more and thankfully the whole glass flew out. Alex shouted to the woman and clicked the kid’s seat belt open. He took the girl and carefully pushed her from the rear window into her mother’s hands. The little one gripped tightly to her plush toy – a pony it was… He remembered it so clearly, perhaps for the rest of his life – the yellow pony with soft long pinkish mane and tail. The woman shouted something, while she was backing from the car with her daughter. ‘Well, at least they are on a safe distance,’ he thought. ‘Time to get out of here before all hell breaks loose…’ ‘And then the nightmare started!’ Alex closed his eyes, cringing at the memories. With another sparkling sound the whole pool of gas under the car turned into the bright oven of doom. But before Alex could think, it was the end and a really ugly one – he started feeling heat almost immediately – he heard the ear-splitting sound of thunder and a bright blinding flash filled his consciousness. Alex shivered. Was he brought here by lightning? By fire? For common sense’s sake, that was breaking the whole world order, he knew and loved. That was simply impossible. Yet it happened. The whole world around him was real. The feeling when he pinched himself was real. And the damnation, he screamed in pain, caused one damn real echo. His foot stepped on a very real small mean stone… And Alex lost his real balance rolling down the real stairs. “FUUUUUCK the castles!” He wasn’t sure, if he shouted all that in his mind or the whole castle was blessed loudly. Most likely mentally, as he was lucky to roll only a few steps. “FUUUUCK the stairs, cars and storms!!!” “… And fuck the ponies!” assumed Alex, when his head heartily “greeted” the floor. With that reassuring thought he fainted. * Darkness fell upon Canterlot, muffling all the activity on the streets. Cicadas, occasional dog barking or hurried hoofsteps of rare citizens on their late way home were the only sounds breaking the serenity of the night. Everypony slept in their comfortable beds, resting from daily routines and even leaves on the trees didn’t dare to break the silence in the complete calm. Nopony noticed the distant and violent storm, which poured tons of water and ripped the dark sky with thunderbolts above the old ruins in the middle of Everfree forest. Even the hardest blast, which could easily compete with the light of full moon rising, was most likely unnoticed by anypony. Anypony but one. “Ahem…” Luna turned one ear to the approaching delicate steps of her regal sister, but apparently her attention was otherwise completely occupied by something else, as she stayed, where she was, observing distance through a telescope. “Luna,” princess Celestia, the Ruler of the Day and Sun, called a bit louder, while she entered the observation balcony on the top of the highest tower of Canterlot castle. She waved her wings in unconscious contraction with a sudden windflaw. “Dear, are you here or several dozens of miles away?” She then approached her younger sister, princess Luna, the Ruler of the Night and Moon, Master of the Dreams. Something was apparently bothering her that much that she decided to abandon her usual patience and extended her foreleg to touch sister’s shoulder. “Oh, Tia! Mine apologies,” Luna turned her head from the telescope. “Well, of course, I’ve heard thee. I’ve been examining our… strange issue in the Everfree and slightly captured by mine thoughts about. So what didst thou want?” “So, you’ve already noticed,” Celestia nodded. “That overly strange and, I’m not afraid to call it that, impossible thunderstorm above the woods.” “Above the old castle ruins to be exact,” Luna rectified with her eyes, returning to the swirl of clouds in the distance, which meanwhile started to fade. “And what do you think about all that?..” “It started moments after I raised the Moon, escalated really fast and now, after half an hour, is fading as suddenly as it started,” Luna touched her chin with the hoof, summarizing. “With clouds so thick and swirling in a compact circle, thunderbolts of that strength and the whole amount of water, which managed to come down in a short time, one might bethink, it needed quite an army of pegasi to stage such a performance.” “Exactly,” replied Celestia with a tiny smile. “But…” “But thither were no pegasi assigned to that wide-scale duty the present day at all,” continued Luna. “I have checked the prognosis twice and thither was nothing alike planned for tonight. Besides, what was the point of pouring tons of water in the middle of nowhere practically?” Her strengthened Old language revealed Luna being a bit excited by the events, as normally she tried her best to accommodate to the modern style of talking. Being properly understood by your subjects was sometimes vital and the Royal Canterlot Voice wasn’t an ultimate tool to reach that goal. There was no point of being loud, while others were trying hard to grasp the mere sense. “The storm started completely by itself,” Celestia emphasized with concern. “And that’s not something we have been getting here for hundreds of years. Not here, in the middle of Equestria. I admit that Everfree lives by its own laws quite often, but still…” “Thou art concerned about some imminent danger,” Luna nodded in understanding. “Or rather somepony. As we hardly got something unruly without somepony’s assistance the last few times.” “Even if they were not ponies,” she smiled mirthlessly. “But I have sensed nothing. Nothing and nopony, possessing any magic at the least, be it malevolent or contrary to that,” Luna’s ears sadly flattened. “I don’t understand, Tia, what are we dealing with?” “Neither do I,” confessed her older sister. “As you said, “sensed nothing and nopony”.” “But we shan’t let it out of our attention. I wonder, if I should send some guards there right now, Luna,” Celestia threw a quick look over the distant ruins, but there was silence and peace over them at that moment, as the storm ended. “I sincerely suppose that we should just wait for a while,” Luna returned to watching the sleeping domain below. “Guards will hardly find any…pony in the middle of the night, despite mine Moon. If thither is anything to look for, I’m unsure.” “I trust your judgment of that, dear,” with a heartily smile Celestia nuzzled sister’s shoulder. “Well, I’m not insisting… but I doubt, we are capable to take any effective steps right now.” Luna leaned back to Celestia. “Have some sleep now, Tia. It’s going to be a long day ahead. And I shall return to mine nightly duty.” “Have it lightly. Good night, sister.” Luna waved her hoof in the air, showing that she returned the wish, while her attention returned again to the old ruins deep amidst Everfree. * “AAARGHH!!!” Absolute darkness of unconsciousness was changed by the slightly less thick darkness of the old castle. ‘It becomes routinely to fall and get hit. Up to no good you are, man.’ Alex sat on the floor and waited, till the walls stopped spinning around him. As he gained normal sight, he noticed that it became less dark around. There was a hallway up ahead and the moonlight patches on the floor noted the existence of windows for once. He got up to be greeted by his grumbling stomach. What a nice change: just when he realized the flaming snakes feeling was still with him, he was almost naked, cold and bruised, his stomach decided to remind that it existed and needed attention. The mere fact that the last decent, moreover any, meal Alex had, was past noon didn’t encourage as well. Trying not to think that he should rather be concerned of not being eaten in that godforsaken place, than having something to eat (the castle seemed to be abandoned for a few hundred years and could be anywhere deep in the wild), Alex proceeded to the hallway. The storm was over during his “blackout” and the full moon looked through the numerous bowed windows of the long corridor with dark regular winged statues standing in the arcs. The night seemed to be young still and Alex noticed that he shivered less here than in the tower. Strangely the storm ended without any sign of it taking place, except water, the air outside was still warm and brought the faint scent of unknown flowers. Alex looked out of the nearest window. ‘Bad, bad idea!’ He managed to notice the green sea of trees, apparently surrounding the castle and shimmering silver in the moonlight and breeze… just before the whole picture doubled or even tripled in his eyesight and his guts tried to make a backflip. ‘I’m too high above the ground,’ he said to himself, accurately backing up from the dreading opening. He then added. ‘Great, I’m in the middle of nowhere and still need to find a suitable way out of that castle.’ He was a bit ashamed to confess, he wouldn’t use the faster exit, even if it was twice lower or there was water below. Back home he was never able to enter a balcony higher than the first floor, here it seemed that he was on the fourth or something alike. And the ceilings were high given that it was the castle. The sudden memory about home was painful. Alex had no faintest idea, how he was supposed to get home without practically anything: the documents, money, his car. The thought that it would be great at the very least to define, where he was and where his home was, didn’t provide much optimism either. Without the phone, map or any clues about the area it wasn’t going to be a game. Alex released a deep sigh. It seemed, he was to stay inside till morning – he couldn’t notice anything outside, which can be used as a landmark, except the very castle, but it wasn’t enough to proceed. He was still uncomfortable about walking around in the wild in underwear only and hoped that perhaps he could find something for the covers. Finally, it was simply stupid to walk through some unknown forest in the middle of the night. ‘So let’s check the other rooms,’ he said to himself, while stepping further into the hallway. ‘If only that annoying pain inside faded, I’d be completely happy.’ The closer look at one of the statues quickly brought the now-almost-native feeling of unease back. There was something familiar in the statue, something that Alex still couldn’t remember, yet making his skin crawl. No, they were not some gargoyles or any sort of other ugly stone abominations so usual for the ancient castles. What stood in front of him was a sculpture of a… unicorn. There was something strange about it: it wasn’t of the size of a normal horse, but smaller, almost like a big pony. However, it was more slender, than a pony any of us could portray, more graceful. In addition to that, the statue was “wearing” the armour. Quick examination made clear that the armour was more like of a soldier, than a battle animal, besides, there were no saddle, no harness, in other words, nothing normally used to ride a… pony. Alex also noticed that not all the statues were the same, as it seemed to him from the first look. Half of them were unicorns, another half had wings, thus being technically pegasi. He giggled nervously. ‘Yet this feeling that I have seen those somewhere…’ “Well, dude,” Alex slapped the closest statue lightly on the muzzle with a cackle. “It seems, there going to be more ponies in my life from now on.” According to his “internal clock” Alex was wandering around the castle for about an hour already. He tried to keep the general direction of getting down to the ground floor, thus walking down every staircase, he could find not ruined. Yet he felt that he was covering much more distance horizontally than actually descending, not mentioning that he was to backtrack twice because of corridors blocked by collapsed walls. Alex completely forgot about his hunger. Now he was concerned about warming himself and getting some safe place to sleep without any risk to freeze completely till morning. He wasn’t sure if it was going to get any colder before the sunrise, considering he had no idea, where exactly the castle was situated. What he saw through the windows clearly showed that it wasn’t some polar region. For which Alex was immensely thankful. But every compartment without windows was noticeably colder; the stone walls didn’t keep warmth like probably they did, when the castle was full of life. He didn’t know if it was bad or good that he apparently was all alone there. Remembering now the yell he gave, when rolling down that stairwell in the tower, he came to the conclusion, that wasn’t the best thing to do. But the sound startled nobody and nobody came to check of the trespasser. So he guessed that tiptoeing wasn’t absolutely necessary, opening the few remaining doors, despite them screeching mercilessly, was safe as well. Next doors Alex faced were large, heavy, built of thick noble wood. Amazing ancient carving, highlighted by the moon light, coming through the high window behind his back, covered the door leafs. When he pushed them lightly, he was amazed by how easily and quietly they opened. It seemed that particular room was of great importance to the castle inhabitants, so they treated all the stuff inside with great care. The furniture stood intact in the dark room, most likely being of the finest quality, so it survived whatever disaster happened. “Gasp!” Alex stumbled in the doorway, as he noticed something deep in the room. A human figure in another passage at the far wall. At first he was worried a bit, but only for a second or two… “Hello!” Alex rushed inside the room. “I’m lost and…” He found himself staring at… Alex, same tired and bruised Alex in his dusty boxers and boots; Alex with quite a stupid look on the face, which already managed to grow some stubble. He extended his hand to touch a giant dimmed mirror about 10 feet tall. Alex gave out a deep sigh of relief and… despair. “Nasty mirror,” he muttered. “I almost thought that I found some help.” He took another look across the room, which, as he noticed, was a bedroom of some regal person most likely. Closer examination of the king-size bed revealed it being of no use, as there was nor sheets neither mattress left (they were probably that pile of dust beneath the bed). The wooden frame survived, but not the delicate cloth. Alex thought, he was going to have no sleep tonight, as other furniture in the room, at least the chairs and banquettes, were somehow not comfortable for him to relax properly. He remembered that every unbroken seat, he found previously, was as well… perhaps too low for his comfort. Other furniture like tables, cabinets seemed to be alright though. Alex proceeded through more and more rooms: spacious halls and small cabinets. Checked more bedrooms and bathrooms with the stone basins built into the floor – all with mostly time worn and broken furniture. He passed an enormous library, thinking that he probably was to wander around that castle till morning looking for the exit. He checked a couple of books (more automatically than hoping to find something helpful) one of which crumbled to dust in his hands. Nothing that could help, some historical stuff that could be interesting, if he wasn’t almost falling asleep on the spot. Well, if he wasn’t, he might have noticed that, despite understanding, what the books were telling, there was no single word written in plain English in them. But his tired mind noticed the content and completely missed, paid no attention to form – the symbols the books were written in. Finally, after one more staircase, he found himself on seemingly the first floor of the castle, in the long high hall of some regal value. High windows on both opposite narrow ends of the hall let enough light inside for him to see columns, chandeliers at the walls and ends of ceiling arcs, more sets of horse… pony armour, standing on their eternal duty along the walls, another single staircase at his end of the hall, going down and most likely to the castle front doors at some point. With the idea that going outside was definitely some daytime business, Alex headed to the opposite end of the hall, where he noticed a stepped podium with two… thrones. After approaching that three steps elevation with two large thrones Alex noticed, they were still in nice condition, not only stone frame, but also the soft seats and backrests. Another sign of those being made for the top-class noble asses, as Alex giggled inwardly. One throne was covered with a large ancient tapestry, also quite well retained. It must have fallen from the wall behind the thrones, as a similar tapestry hung behind the second throne. Alex rose the steps and took the tapestry by its edge to unfold it. The cloth was of amazing quality and lightness, unbelievable for its age, nowhere heavy and rough on touch, unlike almost every common tapestry. This one was made in black, all sorts of blue and silver colours with white outlining. Presumably night sky with stars and bright moon above and a dark blue slender winged horse figurine below facing… flying down. Another tapestry on the wall was generally in blue, white and gold, depicting the sky, sun disc high above and a white slender winged horse figurine flying up. Alex closed his eyes. The same feeling of unease flooded him again. Both images were painfully familiar, he knew he had seen them somewhere already. But they were parts of a single image in his memory. * That was one of those family days, when Alex and his parents were visiting relatives from another city. The latter lived in suburbs, without plenty means of entertaining people, especially younger ones. This and them having two daughters, 12 and 8 years old, practically meant that, while older members of the family were discussing all, what was usually discussed on family meetings, girls were totally Alex’s business. Besides cousins were under the impression of the 19 years old sibling, that sort of impression, which usually leads to looking up to with eyes wide opened, giggles, unintentional innocent flirting and tons of teasing. All harmless, at least until it starts coming at you as a storm… That day wasn’t going to be an easy one, as Alex told himself earlier in the morning. The relatives lived in a cottage with a large garden. So hide and seek, play catch, some more random running around, while both girls contrived to almost run him over a few times, made Alex finally unsure if he had two cousins only or maybe four… or even six already. “Hey, girls,” called he, getting up from the grass. “What about getting inside and having a bit quieter entertainment… before it becomes traumatic?” “Boo, spoilsport!” Older cousin bumped into him and grabbed in a bear hug. “Right when we started having fun.” “Two of you are too much for the “old Alex”,” he stuck out his tongue, teasing her. “You’re not old,” she wrinkled her nose, making her freckles jump. “Just a bit grumpy and into your computer stuff too much. Tell me the point of going to the gym, when you can just have fun outside for free with the same result.” “Yes, yes,” Eagerly jumped the younger, while Alex thought about a dignified answer to the previous question. “We can view some cartoons. Just got a new show on DVD.” She took Alex’s and her sister’s hands and rushed into the house, sweeping away all possible objections. “OK, what will it be?” asked Alex, when they sat in the living room. ‘Girly stuff,’ he shrugged mentally, while younger cousin turned the TV on and set the disc into the player already. It was the new show called My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. As he suspected typical girly stuff. Yet despite pinkish gamma and girly hyper voices, what he watched was fun. It was the first episode, where a few pony girls were searching for some relics to prevent an evil alter ego of one of the two rulers of the land from returning from her 1000 years banishment. The land was called Equestria. ‘So original’, smirked Alex to himself. It was ruled once by two sisters: one reigned over the day and Sun, another – over the Night and Moon. The younger sister – Luna got jealous of Celestia, the older sister, thinking she was getting more attention and love, naturally being the princess of the day. Luna went completely mental, being spoiled by the shadow and turned into Nightmare Moon, who tried to take over the whole land and establish the eternal night by refusing to get the Moon down and let Celestia rise the Sun. It was impossible how Alex could still remember all those names and facts from the show. Celestia then entrapped her younger sister into the Moon, using those relics and started ruling the country on her own, day and night, Sun and Moon, while mourning of her once beloved sister. But after 1000 years certain conditions were met for Nightmare Moon to return and attempt revenge… With the help of the relics, the pony girls (main characters of the show) managed to cast out Nightmare Moon and return princess Luna as former kind and sane self. But those were details… There was the old castle of Two Sisters in that show. And there. Was. That. Sign! Of two regal sisters, rulers of the Moon and Sun. * Alex dropped the tapestry and covered his face with hands. It wasn’t obvious if he was going to shriek, cry or curl on the stone platform in disbelief and despair. ‘That simply can’t be true!’ cried his mind. ‘Come on, it was just a blasted movie, a cartoon for kids!’ Well, last time he tried to check, if he was sleeping or delusional, was painful and real. From all forms of insanity, this could be the least possible, Alex could imagine for himself, if thinking about insanity was his common practice. After a few minutes he managed to bring together, what remained of his trembling, tired and frustrated self. ‘I am regally screwed!’ he gritted his teeth heavily. ‘But, damn it, I’ll deal with this tomorrow!’ ‘I’m too tired for logical conclusions. No ponies or nightmares or else will take away my sleep. And I’ve finally found some “clothes”,’ Alex let out a sad grin. He grabbed Luna’s tapestry… ‘Oh, dear Lord, please, let me be mistaken!’ … and made some kind of toga, wrapping it around his tired body and finding it surprisingly nice and warm. He then climbed with his legs on that throne in front of him and curled, trying to find the possibly comfortable pose. Minutes later overloaded by today’s events Alex passed out. --- Author's note: If 't be true you like the story (and have FimFiction account, otherwise, you can't vote), please, take a minute to support the book hither: https://www.fimfiction.net/story/370173/the-guardian "Thumbs up" are very welcome, comments either. Mine most sincere gratitude in advance!
  10. Note: This review has been edited to clean up and add more content, and credits go to comments by Sloppy Steve, The Dragon Warlock, and TwilightIsMagic for it. Yes, it's true. Real-life snakes can’t eat vegan; they're obligate carnivorous, so they can't digest vegetables in real life. Wolves are also primarily carnivorous, though do eat vegetation at times. If the animals behaved they do here, then yes, having carnivores eat vegan food here would be animal abuse. However, the episode makes a very clear distinction that puts the onus on the animals there, and does so in two ways.  No animal here behaves like those in real life. They may not talk and act animalistic at times, but they can communicate with those who can talk very well, think, and act sapient. This is especially the case when she talks to Antoine the Snake (as he's very recipient to Fluttershy's words and requests), Scout the Flamingo, and Zecora's "gecko." During the predator/prey support group, Fluttershy proposes an important rule in the sanctuary that everyone (including Antoine) agreed to: no eating other animals inside. From this support group, this isn't the first time carnivores or omnivores tried to eat other animals, and FS's gathering is to get everyone to cooperate and get along. The sanctuary is a safe space for ALL animals big or small. The surrounding ecosystem doesn't have this rule. Another controversy is regarding Zecora's use in the episode. After reading posts by The Dragon Warlock and TwilightIsMagic on EQD, I posted this in the episode discussion and then a followup after doubting some of the criticism from both them and I. From the following, these criticisms still hold up. Even though Zecora had no idea at the time that both Angel and Fluttershy swapped bodies or Angel caused massive problems at the sanctuary, it still doesn't excuse her leaving Angel out to run in the dangerous Everfree Forest alone. Understanding how Zecora once caught Swamp Fever and then got nearly eaten by a roc, she should've known better than to just leave "Angel" be. At least carry him back into the heart of Ponyville before letting "him" go. Zecora should've warned them what the potion would do. Yes, she can talk in riddles at times, and when you listen to them more and more carefully, you understand them, and she warned them to take it alone and at home. But by not telling them what would happen to them if they drank them, they get caught in a massive surprise. Alerting them of the consequences would lessen that surprise, make her less of a troll, and give them some input on how to fix it. Until the middle of the second act, Flutterbunny assumed Z erred, only to realize it wasn't the case after their meeting. If her wink says anything, her potion intended to swap their bodies until they figure out they each contributed to the conflict. The rest of the criticisms I had of her plan, both of its construction and implications? Hogwash. There is another here, too. Bunny!Fluttershy's inability to alert both Twilight and Spike that her body got swapped was supposed to indicate how hopeless it is for her to solve it with help. No one knows about the swap, and without a voice, she can't tell others. However, that helplessness could've been clearer to the audience and not relied on not wondering if using The Stare (which she used successfully on Angel earlier) would get others to notice. The rest of the episode, however, is character-driven gold, and their interactions with each other and their environments as both themselves and swapped bodies contributed to the plot, particularly in the humor and drama. Back in Putting Your Hoof Down, Angel had not only his worst appearance of the show by far, but also arguably the worst appearance of any character in the whole show. Yes, Angel isn't exactly the nicest and most patient, but it really took him to the next level, making him a massive, abusive, out-of-character brat in order to get what he wants. While this episode doesn't directly connect to that episode at all, his brattiness returns. Unlike the former (and his desire for a salad made exactly the way he wanted), the episode gets the audience to understand his position in a few ways. Fluttershy focused all her time on the animal sanctuary and classes that she spends no more quality time with him at all, and it shows in the open. As she stays focused on the task at hand, he wants her to give him some level of attention, but keeps getting ignored. During this exchange, Fluttershy utters a crucial line, which I'll further get to later. After Fluttershy gives Angel a little "carrot-based" idea, he decides to get her attention by disrupting the support group and starting a massive fight, disheveling both Fluttershy and himself. During the brawl, Dr. Fauna explains to Zecora that FS is able to keep the "chaos" under control despite Angel's shenanigans. Of course, Zecora believes things are worse than they look, observes how tension's boiling over, and believes the problem must be solved quickly before it becomes worse. After spotting Fluttershy messaging the "gecko's" sore back, he asks her to message his own in an attempting to get attention, only to be rejected in favor of her responsibilities, and this rejection happens at least twice (the latter one equipped with Fluttershy snapping back and Angel hopping away, upset). Why does Angel mock her in front of Zecora? Because he's frustrated with her spending all of her time with everything else. This culminates to his hasty decision to disobey Zecora and take the potion out in the open. Just prior, Fluttershy wanted to be with him and then immediately felt self-pressured to complete her task. Notice the change in Angel's face from celebratory to concerned to fed up as she showed more and more worry. This doesn't make Fluttershy innocent, though. Recall the "crucial line": …and said with a sly smirk. Thanks to that line, Fluttershy suggests she sees his actions as spoiled only. When he tries to get her attention, she yells at him, catching the attention of Dr. Fauna. Yes, she immediately regrets it, but it only restarts inside the storage closet. When he wants to taste the carrot concentrate, she's at her wit's end, accusing him of not taking her occupation seriously and wasting her time, culminating with equal growls towards each other. Right after they switch bodies, the first thing Flutterbunny instructs Angelshy is to "do her chores" while she hops to Zecora's hut, thinking this body swap was unintentional. Yes, Angelshy acted like a brat and used his newfound physique to poke fun at the Ponyvillagers, but Fluttershy getting her under her control only added to the tension between them. Grabbing his tail, stomping the ground, and applying The Stare only fueled his belief of her being "bossy" and animosity toward the other animals at sanctuary. Why does FS's small gesture matter? Because it symbolizes her core judgment to the conflict. Up to this point, she accused Angel of not taking her responsibilities seriously; by literally handwaving, she's suggesting Angel is being spoiled and lazy because he lived with her all her life, and by asking for attention, he's only caring for himself. And, yes, that's true. He doesn't take her job seriously. However, that literal handwave also admits hypocrisy by implicating that she doesn't take him seriously. Unlike PYHD, neither side is in the right from the very beginning. Both of them have streaks of not being nice to one another. Yes, they want to get along and be family, but neither believe they're being listened to, yet only worsen matters by not listening to each other. They oversimplify the opposite's conflict and treat their own as more important. This equal unpleasantness also helped fuel the comedy, especially Angelshy's reaction to the environment and FS's other relationships. Some examples include: Getting very giddy after smelling carrots from Berry Punch's basket. Having initial trouble running to the water fountain. And eventually giving up. Angel bossing Sandra around. Never piss off Angel! The best one, of course, is this: Angel's observant around his environments, FS's extended friendships (namely with the draconequus), and is mocking her for it. And for anyone barfing at the shipteasing, it's not like Confalone hasn't done it before. So why did Zecora come up with this body-swapping potion? Because she forethought the very source of the conflict and concluded that the only way everything will truly return to normal is to make them understand their own positions and see it themselves. Given how they treated each other throughout the first half, the lesson they were going to learn was gonna be tough, and Confalone really showed it. Thanks to not having a voice in Angel's body, FS can't properly communicate with anyone beside Angel himself. Her sign language to Twilight, Spike, and later Zecora becomes untranslatable. On her way into the Everfree, her breath begins to shorten, she starts losing her bounce, and barely escaped from a hungry bald eagle. Seeing as she doesn't take him seriously, Angel takes FS's sanctuary job less seriously, too. Rather than focus on the assigned job, he uses his newfound status to gain revenge on Sandra and become as lazy as Rainbow Dash from 246G, such as letting the storage keys stay lodged in Murial's sore trunk, not reminding Scout the Flamingo to shift his legs, and giving Zecora's "gecko" Antoine's cookies. Again, the fact that Angel's jerkish behavior is to be expected along with a grain of sympathy allows us to stomach his actions. Angel's neglect over taking care of her sanctuary led to massive chaos inside, made Dr. Fauna extremely upset over "Fluttershy" for being so ignorant of the animals' wellbeing (great voice-acting, BTW), and made all the animals distrust Angel after he found out he needed to get the keys out from Murial (who was now dissolving inside Antoine's stomach). (And on an unrelated note, Sloppy Steve from EQD made a great point about the "nuanced" storytelling here. The episode could've just let the biology of the predators go after Fluttershy satisfied Antoine's hunger. Instead, his predatory instincts kicked in after Angel took his treat away for the hungry "gecko" — or shall I say, fire lizard — and swallowed his prey whole, just like a real snake.) If Fluttershy was still a pegasus, she would've been able to fly back to the sanctuary without breaking a sweat. But because she's 1/10 the size, she spends a lot of energy hopping and becomes extremely exhausted and dehydrated once she returns. At this point, Angel realizes what he had done, regretted mistreating Fluttershy, and understood how hard it was for FS to work helping the animals in the sanctuary. It took getting the prey and predators to trust him, work together, and dislodge the keys just to take the carrot concentrate out, but carrying that heavy jar without spilling it zapped a lot of strength out from him. Once Flutterbunny wakes up and feels energetic, they share a magnificent heart to heart. No matter how tough the times may be toward each other, they care for each other, and we see it through their contrition, appreciation for what they do for each other, and around them. From now on, they won't take each other for granted. Beyond the lessons Angel and Fluttershy learned, there are a lot of really interesting bits. The episode further establishes not only the responsibilities Fluttershy has in the school, but also in the sanctuary. Between teaching, taking care of Angel, and running the sanctuary, it takes a lot of willpower to get through all of it. This is the very first episode since the School opened to deal with anyone juggling through very stressful jobs and how neglecting one causes a chain reaction. Often, bodyswap episodes will have the voices change along with the bodies, like Carpet Diem from Gravity Falls. That doesn't happen here; their bodies change, but not the mind or voices. By doing this, STtA must rely on the animation and voice acting to convince the audience Angel and Fluttershy swapped. Libman, DHX, and Top Draw did an outstanding job here, and you can tell they all had a world of fun. With Angel in Fluttershy's body, she doesn't talk all that mellowly. When Angel's in her body, Libman's tone's sharper, hoarse, rude, and louder to make it sound more youthful and "masculine." Thanks to his obsession for carrots, smelling them makes him sound excited and rebellious. From the animation point of view, Fluttershy as Angel might've been a little tougher to sell, since she can't speak. But she knew him ever since he was born, so she can utilize the very same language as Angel when he's a bunny. That communication works with Angel, but not anyone else. Plus, as mentioned before, she quickly fatigued from all the jumping, a limit Angel's more aware of than her. As always, Fluttershy has a way with animals, understanding the need to nurture them and remain patient. Grown out of her timid shell, she exudes authority while simultaneously earning respect and trust from the animals and Dr. Fauna. The episode establishes how impactful the animal sanctuary has been to Fauna since opening: Thanks to all the room for them to roam and heal, her job's not so stressful anymore. Of course, she lends lots of credit to Fluttershy, saying the sanctuary would be a "zoo" without her, foreshadowing the Freaky Friday-like swap to end Act 1. Since the second season, DHX toyed with pegasi/alicorn wings becoming secondary hands. She Talks to Angel doesn't go mad about it like Parental Glideance (and the winged hands were one of the best parts of the episode), but it did one key moment: Taking care of those animals was a big deal that Angel took for granted. Her matted hair and wrinkle under her eyes proved how much Angel's attitude pushed her close to breaking. Holding her right wing out and pointing at her list — which she held with the other — reminds him she is the authority figure and desperately wants him to listen to her. There's some to dislike, but a lot to like. She Talks to Angel resolves Angel's jerkiness from PYHD, intertwines the animal sanctuary quite well, and is the second-best Fluttershy episode of the show.
  11. https://mlpforums.com/calendar/event/48-%7B%3F%7D/?module=events Title: Hurricane Fluttershy Air Date: March 24, 2012 Synopsis: Fluttershy struggles to overcome her fear of public humiliation so she can help Rainbow Dash and the other pegasi create a Tornado powerful enough to lift the water required for Rainy Season up into the cloud-producing city of Cloudsdale. Yay for more Fluttershy!
  12. https://mlpforums.com/calendar/event/32-%7B%3F%7D/?module=events Title: Putting Your Hoof Down Air Date: March 3, 2012 Synopsis: After being pushed around one too many times, Fluttershy gets some assertiveness training from self-help guru Iron Will. The former doormat quickly turns into a bully.
  13. What do you think the most common pitfalls that writers fall into when writing an episode about the characters (mostly the Mane Six)? These are what I think.
  14. Note: Be aware of spoilers in the comments! Title: A Health of Information Air Date (U.S./Discovery Family): Sept. 23, 11:30am EST Writer: Sammie Crowley and Whitney Wetta Summary: "While helping Fluttershy gather supplies, Zecora comes down with a terrible disease called “Swamp Fever". Even though a cure has not been discovered, Fluttershy makes it her mission to heal Zecora no matter what it takes." English: Russia aired it early, and a brony subbed it:
  15. M'm lady Fluttershy I just notice some grass error I made
  16. So pretty much every season Fluttershy gets the least amount of appearences of the mane 6 and sometimes even Spike. But this season Fluttershys only been completly absent in 4 episodes this season and there all from the first half and so has Twilight. In fact those two are the only ponies not to be absent in any episodes in the 2nd half so far . This is a pretty big deal because Fluttershy always appears the least. Its nice to see that she finally has a season where she has the most appearences I cant help but wonder thou if thats gonna lead to something.
  17. I've been asking myself that if there could have been a better way to develop Fluttershy's character than what she did. And I think they could have just let Fluttershy to be a shy character, and still manage to make her a good character. Fluttershy's shyness was perceived as a serious flaw that needed to be fixed. It's been one of the strongest stream of the audience's collective voice. For lots of people, her being shy was one of the most annoying, and repetitive aspect of the show. They thought it was a flaw, needed to be gone. And I think the show heard the voice and actually tried to fix it quite gradually but blatantly. They made Fluttershy not shy. She is very assertive, she is not a pushover anymore, she gets her voice heard when it's needed. So she's been improved, Right? Well, not actually in this case. It's usually a good thing if it's just her improving herself. But it's not actually a clever fix when the essential part of the character is completely wiped out, and only gradually making it happen doesn't help. It's easy to get rid of the character's weakness. But passively fixing the problem doesn't always make a better result. Her shyness is part of what makes her character interesting, but it's not actually just about her shyness. It's her bravery despite her shyness is what made her special. And actually Fluttershy acted boldly when it was the most essential part of the story since day 1. So, Fluttershy was a good character because she had the contrast between the two. She was a shy character, but also overcame it when it's needed. Her characteristics weren't the fault and it wasn't needed to be fixed. What matters is if she acted according to her conscience in the moment of truth. She wasn't shy when it actually mattered, and people got annoyed when it didn't matter. Characters doesn't need to change as long as they act according to their conscience. Because if so, they will act boldly when it only necessary. Now her being bold is like a fanservice, rewarding the people who thought her shyness was annoying. I'll give you an example. Rarity has to be greedy, for some extent. She has to love jewelry, shiny things, fancy dresses, gorgeous decorations, and it's an essential part of her. But what makes her interesting and good is that she always shares what she has. She is generous and selfish at the same time, thus the conflict between the two aspects is interesting. Pinkie Pie is annoying, but she prioritizes her friend's happiness and shows consideration for her friends (almost always until Yakity-Sax). So Fluttershy being shy is part of what made her interesting. Fluttershy overcoming her shyness was satisfying when she was actually a shy character. The other point I'm making is that as soon as she was completely not shy anymore, her character started to collapse slightly. She started to act the opposite in the moment of truth. She was being excessively aggressive to the customer pony in the end of Fake it Til You Make it, she apologized to her friends in a not so definite way, and generally she doesn't display kindness that much anymore. She's not only more assertive, but also more aggressive, and those two are not the same thing (clearly displayed at Putting Your Hoof Down). It seems that the show is more interested in assuring the audience that Fluttershy is not shy anymore than showing what makes her special despite her weakness. Fluttershy wasn't weak even back then. As long as the most important part of the story and the character are done right, she doesn't need to be fixed. First I thought fixing her character was ok, but she doesn't have the charm as a character anymore. Usually Fluttershy's episodes were the most satisfying episodes, but she doesn't have a power to build an episode around her character. Does this mean she should cower and panic in front of any Ponyville resident when buying apples? No, I think that's too much. Gradually growing her confidence to match common sense is a good thing. I almost feel bad to complain about it because once the show tried to fix what the audience asked for, it feels like being picky to ask for the opposite. At least, I can say that I didn't consider her shyness annoying in the first place. And also, I'm also not saying it for the sake of opposing. I'm curious about what you think and most importantly, why do you think that way. Please let me know.
  18. In "Read it and Weep" Rainbow reads the title on the front page of being "Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Stone" but on the front page it shows a statue not a stone and in "her fantasy"? it has a statue as well, Rainbow even calling it the sapphire statue when she was reading, including later in the episode Twilight says the title of being "Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Statue". In season 4 the episode "Trade Ya!" says the "Daring Do and the Quest of the Sapphire Statue", it's possible she might have just misspoke and messed up the title. In the season 6 episode "Stranger than Fan Fiction" when Quibble Pants was quoting the books he called one of being "Sapphire Stone" In season 9 episode "Daring Doubt", Fluttershy said the title of being "Daring Do and the Sapphire Statue".
  19. this is one of my early pixel arts. I've made a lot since.
  20. Note: Credits to We Are Borg, MarikAzemus, and @Truffles for this review. After Sweet and Smoky, I won't be surprised if Season 8 was planned as equally as the 9th. The way she teased her off-screen bro after his horrid molt shows her edge, yet still cares for him. Combine this with Spike's feud with Garble still hanging in the air, what perfect time to address it than an episode about dragon-breeding. This episode mingles three plots: figure out how to hatch the eggs, get Garble to show his more sensitive side, and end his feud with Spike. While Sweet & Smoky started by using the first two, it expanded once Spike discovered who Smolder's brother is. Sure, no in-show word said he's her older brother, but given the context of past episodes and how Smolder's younger, higher pitched, and originally a little less mature than him, yeah, she's younger. Throughout, Smolder's more "feminine" side becomes more and more open. While at the School of Friendship, she's more introverted in her likening for tea parties, but while around Garble, she's more self-secure in openly having tea parties with Garble and Spike, expressing her feelings, showing emotion beyond archetypal "masculinity," and not being afraid to go against the grain of dragon culture she grew up learning from. Even more, her friendship with Spike grew closer to more of a surrogate sister, as she's more open around Spike, defends his passions, and stands up for him. Unlike Spike from Dragon Quest, Smolder rejects the long-time "culture" of bullying others to show "toughness," because she learned ways to be strong beyond the shallow "being-with-older-groupies" type, but not her identity. Thanks to Ember and Twilight, she learned how there's more than one right way to be a dragon, and as Garble tries to hide his insecurities, she tries to open them up so he and Spike bond. Speaking of Spike, he's the main lead, and he shows off his growth as a character in subtle ways. Even though he and Garble have a rough history, he trusted Smolder's words. Early on, she referred to his bro as being like a squishy marshmallow on the inside. Taking her words into account, he works with her to get him to reveal his more sensitive side with a promise of not making fun of him. His trust with Smolder goes back to Molt Down (their first real onscreen conversation), Rockhoof (their fire-breathing competition), and Father Knows Beast (working with her to out Sludge). Despite being the subject of constant abuse by Garble, Spike sucks it up. Why? Firstly, to promise himself to being a dragon without going out of character. Secondly, because that's what Smolder wants. If he (understandably) decides to cook Garble's snout, who can blame him? One can take so much punishment before going over their limit. He openly embraces "Spikey-Wikey." Back in Dragon Quest's beginning, he rejected Rarity's nickname, thinking it made him look too cute in front of ponies. (And from my perspective, her nickname for him then was sooooo patronizing. ) From that point forward, whenever Rarity calls him that, it's endearing. Calling himself that to Garble calls back to that background evolution of acceptance for it. This episode had plenty of Spike abuse, specifically Act 2 when he and Smolder try to get Garble to crawl out of his shell. However, I don't have much of an issue with this for a key reason. His mistreatment of Spike, both past and present, was integral to the conflict. How did he react once finding out she and GarGar were siblings? Not so well. Notice Smolder's raise of the eyebrow in the first link, implying suspicions towards her brother. Soon after, she warned Garble after he tried to be a passive-aggressive douchebag in front of her. From the get-go, she establishes she won't tolerate anyone bullying her good friend. Thanks to chickening Clump (one of the three stereotypical bullies) out after accusing her of being "soft," Beyer-Johnson shows she means business. But that doesn't mean Garble can't give him the short end of the stick by accident or abuse him behind her back. Unlike examples from other episodes, the Spikeabuse isn't a joke (something @Truffles points out in his review; link to it near the bottom). We as an audience are supposed to sympathize for him and root for him to overcome it all and prove to be better than him. But no matter how much he tried, Garble’s mistreatment of him understandably discouraged him. Additionally, his disappointment led him to accidentally discovering that the ground underneath the nests was too cold, immediately leading S&S into a darker turn. The eggs shook not from fright, but from dragons freezing inside. Thanks to his discovery, Ember unleashes Clump, Fume, and "Billy" some deserved karma. Back to the A-plot, with Spike being bullied, Fluttershy (representing the motherly support, while Smolder's the "sister") delivered two of the episode's most rewarding moments. After showing control over Spike since returning to the Dragon Lands, it was only a matter of time before someone called them out for their bad behavior. Fluttershy's anger was raw and real; when she ordered them to quit throwing lava at him, she meant it. Like a good mother, she keeps him accountable. At no point does she scold him and then pretend it's all okay. When she found out he played bongo drums and wrote poetry with Smolder, she embraced his hobby, but was quick to point out his hypocrisy in multiple ways: scapegoating her for being "sneaky" when he was the one doing the sneaking and using his status as a bully to hypocritically pick on Spike. After Garble's flimsy excuse, she gave him this: Her riot act to him was some well-needed tough love. He treated Spike like crap for not being a "real dragon" in order to hide his insecurities, and Fluttershy gave him some pointers of what makes him a "real dragon," narrowed to this: not being afraid to be himself and being with those who'll really appreciate his creativity. Granted, S&S's reveal could've been handled better. Nowhere the episode foreshadows his love for poetry. Now, the atmosphere early in Act 1 (thanks, We Are Borg, for catching this) foreshadows the upcoming stakes and differences between pony and dragon cultures, and Smolder refers to him as a lovable guy who likes to be with those who appreciate talents like Spike's, but what would do better is a hint or two that isn't so vague so his reveal of being a beatnik poet can be connected more with the rest of the plot, such as being with someone who can exchange points in creativity. Additionally, the episode told a lot about Garble's sadness, which he hid through a bad temper and embarrassment. Showing sadness, scaling back a little bit of the abuse (i.e., second-guessing before doing it anyway), and collecting lava to cool it down and turn it into the cylinder would help round it more. Conversely, the episode does a really good job showing us what he does to make us understand him without telling us to forgive him, which MarikAzemus points out. If you want to forgive him, that's up to you. Yes, Garble being sensitive is a cliché in storytelling, but it's one for ringing true. However, while One Bad Apple explains Babs's history of being bullied to make us forgive her for bullying others, Fluttershy and Smolder call him out every time he gets caught. Neither the story nor them downplay the bad things Garble did, emphasized earlier by how Spike would rather help hatch the eggs than be around him. The fact that Garble himself fears being picked on is not an excuse for picking on Spike in return. The fact that he defied Smolder's warning from earlier more than justified her to angrily call him out for picking on him. Small for her, sure, but important on the whole. Why? Because she keeps her promise to both him and Spike and shows she's taking both her professors' classes to heart and Spike's wellbeing seriously. However, rather than get defensive, everyone had to go to the nesting grounds, as the eggs were shaking from the baby dragons from inside feeling too cold. They've been inside for days, but they're newborns, and they're dependent on warmth from the underneath lava to keep them warm as they hatch. Ember called upon "every dragon" (or if the episode was more specific, every dragon she could find) to hatch them, but the fire was too cool. There, as Garble's "friends" laugh at him so hard that their fire becomes hotter, Garble notices a break. See the fumes? The eggshells were heating up. But how to do it better? At that point, Garble takes advantage. Earlier, he worried about others making fun of him for his creativity. Here, if he can get them to laugh at him, they can shoot fire onto the eggs. Will they make fun of him for it? Of course, and he knows it! But he soon stopped caring about what they think and agreed to trade embarrassment for the baby dragons' health. After briefly wallowing, he takes her lessons to heart, starting with this. Like Rarity years ago, he calls him "Spikey-Wikey" sincerely. As he beats the drums and recites the poems, Spike supports him all the way, snapping his own claws to stay into the tune. The more he recited and banged the drums, the more confident he became. When he recited his first poem, he exchanged eye contact with Spike, knowing that he'll embrace his creativity and back him when needed. Afterwards, he said nothing for a good few seconds. As he banged his drums, he became one with the music and his writings. The lack of confidence from before dissipated. Ironically, the more they laughed at his poetry, the more confident he became. By laughing at him, they're falling into his trick, which helps the babies hatch. Pay attention to the last three poems: All of them have a double meaning. In addition to telling the eggs to break free from the eggs, he was also telling himself and everyone else he wasn't hiding his talents anymore. He was proud to write poems, be a poet, and show it off. If they mock him, so what? That's their problem, not his. His self-confidence rose exponentially, and he singlehandedly saved a generation of dragons from freezing to death. The fact that Dragon Lord Ember defended him instantly after they hatched proves to everyone that their talents matter and should be celebrated. She loves the Dragon Lands and her culture, but she has a history of being looked down for being smaller in stature (and thus "weaker" than other candidates three seasons ago), so them mocking him was personal. If they continued to bully others for not being "real" dragons, then those eggs don't hatch. Thanks to Garble and Ember's and Smolder's fervent defenses of him, the dragons learn an important lesson of how they can improve relations with each other. If there's one thing here to comment, though, the fact that Garble's three friends had a change of heart seconds after Ember announced a massive change in its culture makes their change of heart feel less like an organic want to learn and more of "follow the leader." That said, the others agreed after realizing what he accomplished, implicating they're sincere. And @Truffles points out a really interesting, subtle secondary message. By unknowingly "hogging" the lava from the lake, they accidentally changed the landscape and put the lives of baby dragons (that she promised to take care of) in serious jeopardy. They count on her to protect their children at all costs; Ember's rightfully upset at them and treated the situation with the urgency it deserves. They were lucky to prevent the problem from getting worse, but if they're not careful next time, they might not be. This episode has rough edges. There were areas that could've definitely been improved on, one of them making Billy, Fume, and Clump less half-dimensional. Yes, seeing them angrily called out was satisfying, but it's like eating a Mickie D's burger with fries: It's filling for now, but it won't fill you for long. The dialogue's serviceable. And Garble's reformation could've been more natural. However, compared to Complete Crap Clause, this was much better in comparison. Characters remained in character. Beyer-Johnson expands dragon lore more. Garble's bullying and excuses weren't tolerated. And by taking his lessons to heart, he saves hundreds of vulnerable baby dragons and evolves one crucial component of dragon culture. Spike's the lead, but he, Fluttershy, and Smolder share great moments, and Garble reforms, ending their series-long rivalry. Sweet and Smoky overcomes its flaws and is executed effectively, resulting in a good episode.
  21. She saved Equestria from being covered in smoke, AND she reformed Discord, the most powerful and dangerous canonical character, both pretty much single-hoofedly. If anypony deserves alicornhood, I'd say it's her--more so than Twilight, even.
  22. Sometimes you just not look forward to an episode. Whether it’s the synopsis, unimpressive preview, or whatever, something didn’t click. Personally, I looked forward to it, although I understand why some didn’t. It had the makings to being the worst episode of the season at this point. Fortunately, it’s not. In fact, it’s a sneaky great one. For one, there’s a whole lot of really good comedy. Like every other episode this season, there’s a huge array of facial expressions, and they sell the jokes really well. My favorites are: Rarity looking very cross after Yona burped munched Brussel sprout on her muzzle. Gallus and Smolder teasing each other, the latter including a wink. Rarity’s smiles, such as asking Yona what she wanted at the Boutique and pronouncing sophisticatedly. Silverstream’s sass as she gobbled potato chips first and a really nervous grin the next. Yona romantically blinking at Sandbar, triggering giggles from her friends. And there’s also all of Yona’s antics as she tried to “fit right in.” When she tried the first time, she caused either a little commotion or chaos, ala damaging Rainbow’s classroom by accident. Then after she succeeded, she pretended to be Rarity in hilarious fashion, all the way down to her accent, dress choice, and mannerisms. Observe the title. It references the 90’s cult hit, She’s All That, which in turn was inspired by Oscar-winning musical My Fair Lady. I'm not familiar with the former (never watched it), but I am with the latter, and you can find similar tropes used for My Fair Lady in at least three other Disney films: Aladdin, Pocahontas 2 (the one best compared to All Yak), and Mulan. As such, there’s no denying how cliché this type of story is, and this episode’s formula (despite a wide variety of emotion carrying it, and I put not much focus on total clichés nowadays) may be a little too on the nose with it and could do more by straying away. But there’s no denying the emotion that drives this episode. Yona, being the least ladylike of the Young 6, is justified to be uncertain of Twilight's Amity Ball. The Amity Ball trophy's taken from Ponyville's annual Fetlock Fête, a dancing competition with an award going to the winner, and the poster features two ponies, no other creature. Additionally, pay attention to the language: To be fair to the teachers, it's not wrong for them to teach non-ponies Ponyville traditions. Twilight also changed the name so non-ponies can feel more invited. But there are problems. Today, Ponyville remains a homogeneous society, and the School's next door to Twilight's castle. She's supposed to teach a more inclusive Magic of Friendship, yet so far hasn't taught traditions from other cultures. Despite their efforts, it shouldn't surprise anyone why the unfortunate implication pressured Yona to assume she'd have to be a pony to qualify for the Pony Pal trophy. The event also showed how those same implications impacted the rest of the Young Six. Observe their faces. Ocellus's is blank. Smolder rolled her eyes. Gallus looked cross, implying he felt tokenized by ponykind. While everypony and Spike danced, they sat out and played cards. Outside of expression, Gallus expressed his concern, too. Prior, when ponies went to a faraway land to teach the Magic of Friendship, they risk very imperialistic implications, suggesting that those creatures are inferior. Two episodes that fell into this trap were Dragon Quest (stereotyping dragondom thanks to misogynistic teens) and Lost Treasure (treating friendship as the go-to method to fix a desolate, corrupt country). Thankfully, they've been more cautious lately, but this type of episode opened itself up to it. So how did they bypass those implications? Instead of coming to her and telling her she had to change, Yona came to them. She understandably assumed that she had to change into a completely different character. Therefore, by seeing all those dresses, she also assumed that she had to dress like a pony in order to "fit right in" with the rest. That little, innocent accident produced further doubt and fear into Best Yak's childlike psyche. But at no point does the episode look down on her or see her as stupid. Throughout, it listened to those fears and let airing her doubts whenever without interruption. When she tried to persuade Rarity to design the right dress for her, Rarity reluctantly agreed. When she struggled, everyone — and by extension, the episode — encouraged her to improve. On the other end, when her friends saw how she was speaking and behaving, their first impressions were worry. They wondered what was going on with her, and all giggling aside, they were concerned the entire time. Sandbar, who asked her out, was also getting increasingly worried after she nearly spilled punch all over her dress. Rarity's reluctance plays another key. Why does Yona's visit take her aback? Because she doesn't expect anyone to dress. Yes, the Fetlock Fête's a more formal tradition, but the Amity Ball isn't, and Twilight didn't announce dresses as a requirement. Thanks to peer pressure, Yona thought she had to. Rather than say no, Rarity agreed to her demand. After all, she's her client, and objecting may only worsen things. One little line subtly adds to this doubt: Rarity suggested she stand out for Sandbar. Yona corrected her. Instead of thrusting her beliefs onto her, she listened and, despite being opposite her morale, obliged. Everyone else actively wanted to help her improve. At first, Yona struggled mightily. The Pony Catillion chart really confused her, 'cause all of the colors and hooves overlapped each other, and Yona (hilariously) smashed up Dash's classroom when trying to learn the Pony Prance. Meanwhile, Pinkie's quick organization of the ingredients comes second nature to her, but Yona was overwhelmed. Seeing how she needed help, they started from scratch, modified their instructions, and slowly worked upward as Yona improved. Another big improvement here in comparison to other episodes is how they remained in character the whole time. Nopony looked down upon her the entire time. Instead of forcing her to agree, Yona came to them for help, and they worked the best they could to her demand. Did they get flustered, insult her, or treat her or her culture as inferior? Nope. They genuinely believed they were helping her accomplish what she wanted. Come the end of the montage, everything was according to plan. Unfortunately, they had no idea that, despite the best of intentions, they unknowingly perpetuated the same imperialistic "out-of-pony" stereotypes. What they intended was to help Yona impress Sandbar, have fun, and win Best Pony Pal. But their coaching accidentally suppressed Yona, who was beginning to treat her own identity as a yak as a weakness and took their lessons as means to become more self-conscious. This line further implicates this: Pay attention to the last two words. "Well spoken" is a microaggression. It may "sound" nice on the surface (and sometimes not intended to be offensive at all), but when a Caucasian calls an African-American "well-spoken," they say he's better not talking like "other" blacks, a.k.a., anyone who speaks Ebonics. Regardless of intent, it's racist and not a compliment whatsoever. In FS's POV, she's complimenting her, and Yona accepts it without a second thought. Albeit very on the nose, Fluttershy's supposedly innocuous line further backs up the episode's anti-assimilation theme and, along with the rest of the coaching, made her really vulnerable to shame and distressed if she messes up. And boy, did she mess up. Surprise surprise, Yona became very ashamed and depressed, hiding in the Palace of Solace. Recall what the Tree told them four episodes ago: Within the Everfree Forest's castle ruins, this treehouse provides a safe space for anyone who needed it. After the biggest humiliation of her life, Yona needed to air her despair, and this was the best place. Her song to begin Act 3 ranks up there with The Pony I Wanna Be, Moondancer's rant, Sunset losing her memories, and Grand Pear's apology as one of the most heartbreaking moments of the entire series. However, what happened during the lowest moment of her entire life resulted in one of Pony's most heartwarming moments. Sandbar's a fine addition to the Young Six, but he's the most mellow, so he doesn't have plenty of oomph. Thankfully, he more than makes up for that by listening to her, treating her as an equal, and showing that he won't trade anything away that made her the way she was. His unconditional support for her and empathy cheered her up and reignited her self-confidence, demonstrating what helped make this show so successful: not only teaching us the Magic of Friendship, but proving it. Just to balance the perspectives more, I would've liked to see Sandbar sit inside the Palace just after the intro. That way, we get to see his insecurities a little more. But this is a nitpick, so carry on! Let's go back to Fluttershy's "well-spoken" line. Again, it's supposed to mean well, but has unintended consequences, staying true to the episode's critique of assimilation. The RM6 had absolutely no intention of leaving any non-pony out, but someday, someone was going to take these unfortunate implications to heart. Being the most emotional and vulnerable of the Y6, Yona was the perfect vessel. Even though they believed they did the right thing by trying to teach her the Fetlock Fête's traditions, they inadvertently cleansed her psychologically and culturally. They wanted nothing more than to make her happy, but not by taking away what made her so special. Apologizing to her and reassuring they love her for who she is is the right call. As for the sporadic critique of Yona and Sandbar winning the Pony Pal trophy, think about this. Once more, as Yona suffered the deepest humiliation of her life, Sandbar offered his ears, patience, and a proverbial shoulder for comfort. His actions embody the School of Friendship's values; they more than deserved that award. In addition, cleaning up meant they had plenty of time to rethink the Amity Ball's purpose. Why did they change the award's name and dress one of the pony statues up as a yak? To symbolize how friendship crosses boundaries and cultures. Thanks to their own mistakes, they can improve the Amity Ball to include everyone much better. Look at how everyone joined in her Yakyakistan Stomp. They show how much she means to them. For the ponies, this will be a lesson in working with non-ponies to make the School of Friendship and its activities feel more welcoming. Given the show's flaw of ponies sometimes acting as the savior to non-ponies, it's a long-time coming for the show to not only address this problem, but flip it to make the ponies learn this lesson. Also, if you believe this episode's moral is "be yourself" and a near-copycat of past episodes, such as Common Ground, you're overlooking the nuances. Common Ground's are to not use bitterness to isolate someone from being part of a family and to not pretend you have to follow a passion to bond with someone. The primary lesson from She's All Yak is not to feel like you have to erase your own identity to belong. They're not the same. Pony's on a hot streak. Since Matter of Principals, they haven't released one mediocre or bad episode, and aside from a rare fine one, they're all good to really good. So far, every season 9 episode is really good at least, and this is the fourth great one in a row. I'm unsure how well it'll age over time, but today, all I need to say is that She's All Yak is sneakily great and could (hopefully) land near the top of S9's best episodes
  23. Note: Credit to @CloudMistDragon, @Justin_Case001, Kaperon TSB, and Applegeek for this review. Today Sparkle's Seven is Season 9's greatest episode. Everything fell into place and was written so, so well. But writing just this much only really undercuts the mastery of its storytelling and humor. Rather than doing simply a breakdown of the episode in a strength/weakness structure or a long essay, I'll break down specific points, ala my Movie review and Zeppelin analysis. Setting the Tone. Within the first minute, Haber and Dubuc establish the episode's whimsical tone, beginning with this little whammy. Spike's so excited to receive Shining Armor's letter that he burst in Twilight's office, accidentally spooked Starlight enough to cause her to drop a stack of papers on the floor, and unroll his scroll with extreme glee. All punctuated by a very happy trumpet score in the background. Ten seconds in, the audience begins to have a quick impression of what its tone, atmosphere, and overall direction could be: casual, fun, and possibly exciting. The crown may be a toy, but Spike's face and Twilight's subsequently surprised reaction reveal how important it is to them: It establishes a friendly sibling rivalry between her and older bro Shining Armor, which the montage shows they had a huge amount of fun to earn it. That toy crown's nostalgic, a will to be impressive during the week, and improve if you miss it. Being a bro himself, Spike's excited to see SA revive it, even if for one more time. Before the open ends, Sparkle's Seven alerts us of the stakes: Whoever wins the crown this time officially wins Sibling Supreme. Forever. It effectively delivers on the episode's direction and tone without wasting one precious millisecond. Speaking of tone… Twilight: "For…ev…errrr…" What do Best Night Ever, Lesson Zero, Pinkie Pride, Slice of Life, Saddle Row Review, and Break Down each have in common? They're filled to the brim with comedy and among the best episodes in part of or because of it. Sparkle's Seven ups the ante hundredfold. Everywhere it goes, it's ripe with humor. To go over a few early examples: Starlight's last, quizzical line. Celestia's beat after Princess Luna takes a verbal shot at her (along with a small stare at her as SA gloated). This face… Suddenly, I'm hungry for pudding… Princess Luna whinnying like a horse. Recall his fans giving that poor robin having trouble flying near the Royal Sisters's castle? Here's the next scene! Eeyup! Same robin, dazed from crash-landing, walking near the castle instead! Going a little dark there, eh, story?! Pinkie cutting off Rarity and Dash's film noir scene (a very clever callback to Rarity Investigates!) and breaking the fourth wall during the cartoony space scene. Her small whine sells it quite well. Spike imagining himself as a spy teaming up with Fluttershy to steal his crown. From the start, Sparkle's Seven doesn't let up on any comedic opportunities. If they find a spot, they were going for it, be they succeed or fail. Varying the humor — rather than relying on one type — by equally including sound effects, the score, little Easter Eggs caught on repeated rewatches, different camera/animation techniques, and dialogue catches the audience by surprise, a crucial ingredient to good-quality comedy, and increases its replayability. The cartoony medium also helped accentuate their faces, going extreme without becoming uncanny. One will be covered in more detail right now. The Many Faces of Equestria! Despite the boatload of comedic variety, their faces drive most of it. Haber, Dubuc, and the animators successfully take advantage of the animation medium and exaggerate them without becoming gross, uncanny, or out of place. The only question: When's the right time? Thanks to its absurd tone, whenever they surprise us. Act 1's full of them, but some of my favorites occur during the second. Here are just a few. Earlier, AJ claimed to possess an alter ego named Apple Chord and would use it to distract the Canterlot guards while the others snooped inside. But after telling her story, Dash realized she wasn't telling the truth, leading to this awkward mouth. Does a face like THAT tell you she wants to be Apple Chord? Nope! Onstage, one uncomfy dudette forces herself to live a lie long enough for her friends to get inside. This one is sequential: Twilight and Shining Armor's exchange outside the castle. Suspected she was up to something, he questioned her. How did she respond? By sniffing a nearby flower with a cunning grin. Shining scooted away, peeking as she innocently waved to him. What makes this so interesting? Because it adds to the friendly yet passionate rivalry between them. Silly, yet serious in showing a tight, competitive relationship. Twilight realizing Rarity's scheme fell apart. If that doesn't accurately describe her sinking loss of hope… Poor Twilie. Yeah way! Uh huh! But my favorite moment, until the end, is the Dash and Rarity scene. Realizing in shock that the café was closed during the afternoon catalyzed their moment to spy on the episode's first truly suspicious event: Luna replacing two Canterlot guards with Zephyr Breeze. At first, one might wonder why she'd hire someone like him to take part, but then you become reminded of SA's words from earlier: ponies guard every door, so it makes sense for ponies to replace them while they're out to lunch. That said, it's Zephyr we're talking about here…! But we'll talk about that later. The true gift of this scene is how they react to him. Including, well, how shall I say it? Uh…eeyep? Oh, eeyup! When I first watched Sparkle's Seven, I laughed. The second time around, I nearly fell to the floor from laughing so hard. Sneaky sneaky, DHX! XD Ironically, they also made Zephyr, one of the worst characters of the series, actually pleasant to watch. Sure, he's still a diva, but he's much more self-confident now (clever subtlety). His ego's no longer patronizing; only Dash finds him annoying. Why does the way they present him matter here? Ashleigh Ball wanted Rainbow Dash to interact more with Ryan Beil (Zeph's VA). They showed great chemistry in FB, and Dash helped get his life back on track. SS's the first Pony ep we see him in since then, so the question is will his development stay or not? Sparkle's Seven answers that question with nuance. Oh, and do I need to post a couple of more faces? I'm the Youngest One(s) Like past episodes such as HW Club, Best Night Ever, Lost Mark, and TT123, the third act really elevates it. The first pivotal moment occurs just following the commercial break, when Spike tells Fluttershy he sometimes feels forgotten and uses their rivalry to back up his point. Immediately, two innocent moments from the cold open impact the story: baby Spike drawing gold stars below their chart and his wish to take part in it right after Twi's flashback. But there's more than that, as well. For most of the series, Spike's family presence with Twilight's more like an afterthought. In Season 1, Spike's primary occupation was assisting her in her studies. At one point, Twi wanted to wake Spike up from his sleep and request him to retrieve her quill, implicating he's a slave. Thanks to the ending, Princess Spike sent misandric messages in a pro-feminist show. Have we come a long way since then? Yes. But his arc felt incomplete, and episodes like Zeppelin (Iron Will believed Spike wasn't family enough to reward him a ticket!) and Father Knows Beast only created more Q's than A's. Long-time continuity backs up his doubts. FS, recalling her strained sibling relationship with Zephyr, understands his feelings. Twilight — so determined to win the Hard-Won Helm — accidentally ignores Spike's "little brothers" line minutes later. Thanks for proving his point, everypony. Fortunately, this scene was an extra cog to one of two big reveals in the climax: Under everyone's noses, Spike stole the crown, shocking everyone. But he wasn't alone. AIN'T THAT TWIST SO…GLOOO—RIOUS?! So how does this make any sense? Recall the first bit of foreshadowing mentioned a few paragraphs ago. Celestia and Luna share very strong differences of opinions of Shining Armor's security. Celly really liked it, but Luna was unsure and, as stated in Act 1, wanted to test it with her, but she chose to summon Twilight instead. Everyone was so caught up that they overlooked its fatal flaw: They're so focused on outside threats they overlook inside ones. Spike quickly realized it, and observing how Luna and Celly couldn't stop nonverbal arguments with each other, he concocted an inside plan with Luna to prove it to everyone. And boy, did they take serious advantage! Knowing his vanity would distract him from doing his job, Luna replaced two experienced guards with Zephyr for the afternoon shift. Spike tore Pinkie's hot-air balloon with his claws, not only further sabotaging Rarity's plan, but also providing enough of a distraction for AJ to steal a Royal Guard medal (which Rarity later used). Luna keeping Celestia and SA out of the Throne Room long enough for Spike and Fluttershy to explore the catacombs, escape, and invade. At one point, they got lost, and Dash pulled down every wall sconce to try to escape, so he mapped out the catacombs and noted all the traps and secret passageways. Spike's wits are essential to his character. Sparkle's Seven explores 'em in a completely new way: strong forethought. He not only rightfully predicted Rarity's plan will fail, but also Twilight's and SA's. All they needed to do was play it out, let SA catch Twi off-guard, and then *snaps fingers* capitalize. He won the Hard-Won Helm of the Sibling Supreme fair and square. Kudos to both SA and Twilight for acknowledging them as their little bro all along. But give credit to Luna, too. From a storytelling perspective, her little disagreement with Celestia fueled the spy parody that Tabitha St. Germain suggested. Her tiny shots and glares at her sister foreshadowed the climax and smoothly tied into both Twilight's rivalry and Spike's plight. Celestia's decision to ignore her justified her reasons to behave sourly made sense and gave her a solid alibi to help corrupt their flawed security system. By one-upping her older sister, she won well-earned bragging rights herself. The Miscellaneous Typically great episodes offer more than simply the story. Little details, smaller jokes, and intentional subtexts increase layers and replay value, giving viewers a reason to rewatch it either now or in the future. Beyond the dazed bird example… This whole episode is a parody of spy film, mostly inspired Ocean's 11, a classic film remade twice. According to Applegeek, Kaperon TSB, and @Justin_Case001, there are several references to not only Ocean's 11, but other spy and action films at large. Rarity's "unexpected" speech parodies George Clooney's "The house always wins" speech from the 2001 remake. Credit to Justin Case for finding this. DHX recreated this classic Ocean's 11 poster. After Shining tells his sis of all the security measure, Twilight uses mathematics to figure out how to break through, parodying a moment from the blackjack scene during The Hangover. Credit to Kaperon for discovering that. Luna stroking the goose satires the Bond-villain-strokes-the-cat cliché, and like Applegeek himself, I have a good hunch the goose (with his pink, skin-toned feathers) is supposed to resemble Dr. Evil's sphinx from Austin Powers (another Bond parody). This episode is also one subtle, yet gigantic, parody of itself, a great catch by @CloudMistDragon. FIM doesn't shy away from admitting how predictable their stories are sometimes. Whether your enjoyment of the product is determined by that is up to you. (Nowadays I rarely ding it for this, as the journey factors more.) Shining Armor accurately predicts her whole plan, is prepared for any other unpredictable folly by them, expects them to put their plan into action, and lures them into the Throne Room until the last minute. This self-deprecation is easily the smartest showcase of Shining's experience with security and wits. Simultaneously, it winks at those in the fandom who use the "predictability" card through Rarity's and Twilight's plans without being condescending. Was her plan unpredictable, yet in character of everyone? 100%. But Plan B had many major problems, notably inexperience and lack of cooperation. OTOH, Twilight's plan, while predictable, was well thought-out and highly tailored to their talents, cleverly commentating how a well-crafted, predictable story is more valuable than an unpredictable one. Ironically, this allegory subtly foreshadowed the unpredictable plot twist. Nice swerve, DHX. Very clever use of time is shown through the flashback. Back then, the family's Hard-Won Helm was shiny and new. Today, it's cracked, dented, and busted. Listen very carefully when Spike dons it; there's a small ruffling sound to further indicate its worn-out condition. Methinks SA enjoyed it a little too much, eh? During her heated argument with RD, Rarity stopped briefly to say "hi" to Spike and continued her diatribe, stopping after completely realizing who's there. (BTW, I haven't watched any of the Ocean's 11 films, Hangover series, or Mission: Impossible series. So I had to get the references from elsewhere. Nevertheless, ain't that tantamount to its high quality: not fully getting the references, yet finding it all funny, nonetheless?) Conclusion. So much describes this new classic. The characters are perfectly in character, including Zephyr (who's actually funny). Every joke lands perfectly, and is sometimes funnier on rewatches, with my favorite being Dash begrudgingly dressing in style. It got serious at times, rounding its story without becoming melodramatic and maintaining its lightheartedness. Several stories are simultaneously intertwined flawlessly, including its satire of spy films, itself, and allegory. On top of it all, its moral on listening to your loved ones and making sure they don't feel left out is executed so well. How awesome it really is to see Spike treated with so much dignity once again. Regardless of all of Season 6's well-earned criticism, Spike's writing was top-notch. Thank Haber for partially why. Whenever he's the editor or writer, this small dragon gets the respect he deserves. Thanks to Weseluck, Sparkle's Seven addresses a series-long concern related to his family and provides a solid alibi to craft a devious deed to win the game. If it doesn't prove how far he's come since Princess Spike, I don't know what will. He gets Spike, period. But don't leave Dubuc hanging, either. She co-wrote the ingenious Shadow Play with him. Sparkle's Seven continues to show how well they work as a team, and the former's inspirations clue us all. Its top-notch dialogue, successfully multi-layered stories, and brilliant executions from top on down are all found here. And finally, thank you to all the voice actors who stayed with this show for so long. You all dedicated so much of your time to building FIM's success, and your voices are iconic to the very same characters. It's so fitting to have the 200th episode dedicated to you, and watching it was a huge honor. Thank you, all, for contributing to this all-time great and show that commenced western animation's renaissance.
  24. So Flutterbrutter hasn't been broadcast yet, but MLP Wiki has more or less confirmed Fluttershy's brother to be Zephyr Breeze. I'll admit, this OP may still need some work on it soon, but at least we're getting it made. So come all Zephyr Breeze admirers.
  25. There has been a time where I didn't like ponies shipping Fluttershy and Discord just because Discord will outlive Fluttershy. My prediction after that, though dramatic, is that Discord would be so distraught that he goes on a rampage of sadness fueled chaos, but what do you guy think? What will Discord do once Fluttershy dies?