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The Second Opinion posted a blog entry in Non-Brony ReviewsEach episode, one by one. Is Second on board or just bored with Season 7 of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic?
Thanks, Australia. I am generally biased in favour of Discord. The only episode starring him which I didn't at least enjoy a little was season 5's "What About Discord?," and that episode was meant to be unpleasant. A character who can bend the laws of reality to his will gives a lot of room for funny and creative visuals, and the only thing really holding him back is that he's always seemed like an unpleasant person to be around. He's always appeared emotionally immature and somewhat apathetic about how others feel about his actions, and this has made it increasingly unclear to me why the mane six tolerate him. Earlier episodes have usually dealt with this either through Discord claiming to teach someone a lesson, or through having Discord himself learn a lesson, and while "Discordant Harmony" mostly leans towards the former, it also does a better job than any episode before it of making him sympathetic and even likeable. Its need to serve up creative visuals still results in Discord irritating almost every pony in his vicinity, but his intentions in this episode are better than ever, and those visuals are pretty creative and delightful anyway. The visuals do a good job of distracting from the exposition, and the moral is rock solid, making for an all-around enjoyable episode. During a tea party with Fluttershy, Discord suggests that he host their next get-together. However, once he actually begins planning for the party, he struggles to find supplies that are as special (read: surreal) as he would like, and is irritated by ponies expressing surprise that Discord is friends with Fluttershy. Eventually, he figures that all this chaos might not be to Fluttershy's tastes, and removes the nonsense he conjured up in favour of a nice, pleasant setting. "Discordant Harmony" has an unconventional structure which makes a simple description of premise difficult, as the main conflict takes a significant change in the final third of the episode, and before that shifts focus multiple times. For the most part, the episode revolves around Discord attempting to impress Fluttershy, but midway through, Discord's methods shift dramatically, and near the end, his attempts to be "normal" not only underwhelm Fluttershy but also result in him literally beginning to fade out of existence. In the interim, a good percentage of the episode is simply Discord riffing, first on the party goods he's picking up and then on his own party. Thankfully, said riffing is every bit as amusing as Discord always is, and is accompanied by creative imagery like singing teabags, flying kettles, and at several points Discord literally speaking to a clone of himself. That clone is perhaps the highlight of the episode, not only because the banter between the two Discords is hilarious, but also because it demonstrates his surprisingly sympathetic internal monologue. It's no surprise that Discord cares about Fluttershy, but hearing how concerned he is about what she thinks of his tea party does a lot to humanize him. The clone is clearly only telling Discord his own thought process, and more than anything the show's done before, this helps us get into his mind and sympathize with him. It helps that he's not actively antagonizing anyone this time around, but he still demonstrates some emotional immaturity with how he reacts to others, and scenes where he's exasperated that stores don't stock fantastical items are a little awkward even at their funniest. Discord's behaviour here is certainly a step in the right direction, but the show still struggles to make him sympathetic without grounding him. Still, making him sympathetic does a lot to make his place in the show easier to understand. His relationship with Fluttershy is genuinely adorable, and whereas prior episodes have often featured him stretching Fluttershy's patience, here it's nice to see him being considerate of her, and it's every bit as nice to see how fond she is of his chaotic nature. Like the show is sometimes prone to do, it creates unintentional romantic subtext by hitting some notes too hard, but when Fluttershy starts messing up Discord's house in order to save him from fading away, it's genuinely adorable. Starting in season 6, Fluttershy has improved immensely, and as terrible as "Fluttershy Leans In" was, she demonstrates just how much better a character can become when given a wide range of stories. Here, her newfound assertiveness is blended with her long-held compassion better than in any episode since "Flutter Brutter," and not coincidentally this is her best showing since then as well. However, while this episode thankfully breaks from the rest of the season by allowing for extended comedic scenes, it still suffers from an overabundance of exposition. As funky as the visuals are, they're generally accompanied by Discord rambling, and Discord also spends a lot of time explaining his feelings. One plot point is triggered by Pinkie Pie telling him something which could have been a moral in another episode (although it was a red herring), and when Discord starts fading out of existence, Fluttershy explains it and exposits what she must do to make it stop. Discord needing to stay chaotic to exist makes some sense, but it's still something which was made up for this episode and which is dropped on us in expository dialogue, and that's a major contender for this season's worst habit. "Discordant Harmony" also has one of the most satisfying modern touches since "The Saddle Row Review" in the form of Discord going to a supermarket. The show's setting becomes murkier and murkier over time, and each new modern element further dilutes its original simplicity, but at the same time, seeing a supermarket in Ponyville is genuinely refreshing. Just as refreshing is Pinkie's random appearance as a one-scene supporting character, continuing this season's trend of having the main characters just randomly appear around Ponyville. It does a lot to make the show feel more alive, and it complements the season's hyper-focused storytelling. I still wish for more ensemble episodes like we had in the earlier seasons, but I am glad for the consistent acknowledgments that the mane six are still just one part of the Ponyville community. If there's one thing which really holds the episode back for me, it is the climax, which yet again indulges in cliche to embellish an otherwise solid slice-of-life story. After "Rock Solid Friendship," this is the second time that the show awkwardly forced in some excitement to make a somewhat nuanced main conflict much simpler, and here it's even worse than "Rock Solid Friendship," because the episode would have been just fine without it. The (honestly pretty great) moral is that Fluttershy likes Discord for who he is, and that he doesn't need to change to impress her, and this does tie into Discord literally vanishing because he tries to be something he's not, but the episode could easily have reached that conclusion without raising the stakes, and if anything, those stakes make the moral weaker. Instead of staying the same because that makes everyone happier, Discord stays the same because his life literally depends on it. If anything, that fantastical element makes the story a tiny bit harder to relate to, although the moral is still plenty strong even with that barrier. "Discordant Harmony" takes a strong step in the right direction with Discord, making him sympathetic and his relationships understandable without compromising his surreal appeal. Despite its flawed climax and its reliance on exposition, it's a funny, touching, and adorable episode which expands on Discord and Fluttershy's friendship while providing a strong moral in the process, and I hope this becomes a model for other Discord episodes in the future. Imagine him having this level of cameraderie with Twilight rather than tormenting her all the time! "Discordant Harmony" is a very promising evolution of a consistently delightful character, and it does a solid job correcting the biggest problem with his episodes. Three good episodes in a row! Let's hope for more. Score: Entertainment: 8/10 Characters: 9/10 Themes: 8/10 Story: 7/10 Overall: 80/100 You can find more like this at my offsite blog.
The Second Opinion posted a blog entry in Non-Brony Reviewshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guXhMkKZGnA Will this episode finally break 2nd Opinion's indifferent streak in MLP, or is Daylover on her own here?