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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.
Good morning everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! Well today I have good news and bad news. The good news is that this review shouldn't be all that long, but the bad news is it probably won't be that long because I thought this episode overall was just... eh, OK. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't amazing either, and I've seen far better episodes before about Fluttershy becoming more assertive or gaining confidence. But let's not go over all of that here, instead, let's dive on into the full review itself, this is "Fluttershy Leans In." So last week's episode, "Rock Solid Friendship's," biggest flaw was Pinkie Pie with a ton of OOC behavior, and while that was a BIG problem, the episode as a whole was still very likable. This episode, while it didn't have such a glaring flaw, had a bigger issue with the episode as a whole that brought it down to being just an OK episode: a contrived conflict. Now it wasn't the need for an animal sanctuary that was the problem, uh-uh, but rather the issues that arose on the way there. Frankly, it just felt entirely unnecessary that the three "experts" that the Mane 6 recommended to Fluttershy to bring in to help build her dream animal sanctuary be brought in in the first place; the only one of them who had any kind of expertise with animals in the first place was Wrangler, but even her talent for animal enclosures and herding had virtually nothing to do with building an animal sanctuary. Hard Hat it should have been pretty clear only knew how to construct buildings and nothing else, and it seems like a landscaper or exterior designer of some kind would have been a far better choice to help than him. And finally I have no idea what Dandy Grandeur was even doing there; it's not that the animal sanctuary didn't end up having interior "structures" or features of some kind, but I have no idea why Fluttershy or Rarity would have thought a guy who clearly seemed to know nothing but high end interior design would have anything worthwhile to contribute to an animal sanctuary project. So when Fluttershy got mad at all three of them, I really didn't find myself getting mad at them either; if anything, Fluttershy kind of came off as douchey when she did because she just shouldn't have let them get involved in the first place. Wrangler, Hard Hat, and Dandy Grandeur at one point before anything even began all seemed to know they didn't know what they were doing in this project, when they shared very nervous glances with one another. But they tried to help anyway because they were happy to help a friend of Applejack, Pinkie Pie, or Rarity, respectively, so it's not like there was any malicious intent behind their buck ups, they just shouldn't have been brought in to help at all in the first place. Frankly the Mane 6 deserved more of Fluttershy's ire than these new ponies did; the new supporting characters largely didn't know Fluttershy at all and were just doing what they knew how to do best, so technically as far as what they're good at, they were putting their best hoof forward. The Mane 6, on the other hoof, kind of seemed to dump off helping Fluttershy on these three, and not only did that lead to all of these issues, but it was completely unnecessary and avoidable in the first place. The Mane 6 when they work all together are more than capable of tackling a project like this, and as the episode ended up showing, in the end, that's all that was needed. Fluttershy had a clear vision of what she wanted, and all they needed to do was follow her lead and give her the manpower she needed to bring it to life. It was gratifying when we got to see Fluttershy lecture the other five at the end when they almost pulled the same crap that Wrangler, Hard Hat, and Dandy Grandeur did, but really she should have been even angrier at them. I mean, she left things off with those other three badly, and for all we know they might be on bad terms with Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity too now, and once again, this was all avoidable if the Mane 6 had just offered to help Fluttershy instead themselves in the first place! So overall, I just really didn't buy into the primary conflict in this episode. It was contrived and completely avoidable, it's only purpose was to force Fluttershy to be more assertive (which she has done plenty of already in past seasons and in far better episodes that taught such a lesson far more effectively), and it felt forced to the point that I just didn't feel like picking sides like the episode wanted me to. So as I said earlier, while Pinkie Pie was REALLY bad last week, I honestly felt like the contrived conflict that affected this entire episode brought this episode down far more than Pinkie did in last week's episode. Eheheheheh, ya sure ya want us getting involved? I mean, just so you know, we may not know anything about what you want us helping you out with, but OK, if you insist that this plot goes where it will inevitably go if we stay involved, fine, we'll play along until it blows up in your face. Also, can we please get more of Wrangler at least? I don't know why, but I just really dug her design, the colors, the clothes, it all just worked for me. Other than a really contrived and forced conflict, the rest of the episode was largely harmless. Besides how her assertive moments felt forced and needless, Fluttershy was very sweet and I really thought the best trait of hers on display in this episode was her kindness and how that translated into a beautiful dream becoming a reality. My biggest takeaway was that her kindness, her love for all her animal friends, was what kept driving her, even when things got difficult, to finally make her dream of building an animal sanctuary a reality, and it was great seeing those simple, basic elements of Fluttershy on full display here. Also it was pretty hilarious that it was her fault that all these animals were overrunning Dr. Fauna's clinic in the first place because she just couldn't help but recommend her to all her animal friends that she met all over Equestria. Talk about word-of-mouth getting out of control. Dr. Fauna was actually quite delightful, and like Nurse Redheart a couple of episodes ago, it was really nice seeing her in such an expanded role so unexpectedly. She didn't contribute to the problem at all, in fact like I said it was really Fluttershy's fault that she had too many patients to handle in the first place, and she clearly loved animals about as much as Fluttershy did, it's just her expertise was more directly about animal health itself rather than their overall care like Fluttershy's is. In fact, as far as new elements in this episode go, I'd say she was my favorite one; I know she wasn't a new character, but it was just nice seeing the writers so positively utilizing a supporting character in Ponyville when so often the Mane 6's problems either revolve around themselves or supporting characters are just there for comedic gags. This time the Mane 6 helped make a permanent change to Ponyville that benefited the entire town, and one resident of Ponyville in particular, because she and her animal patients needed their help and intervention. I honestly wish we saw more often the Mane 6 helping out Ponyville residents like that as part of their episode lessons, it'd just be a nice, simple way to get more of the entire town involved in their adventures. The return of Big Daddy McColt was quite a bit of fun as well, (though it did beg the question even more as to why Fluttershy didn't just bring him in in the first place since she knew he had expertise that could actually aid her in this endeavor, thereby further undermining the contrived conflict of this episode, but I digress), and it was great to see him paying the help that Fluttershy and Twilight had given him and his family in the first place forward with kindness of his own. So kudos DHX on both Dr. Fauna and Big Daddy McColt, this is exactly how you should be handling supporting characters in the show and involving them in it! Now that's a brohoof I never thought I'd see in this show The animals throughout the episode were pretty cute overall. I did get quite a laugh out of Angle Bunny hurting himself in, of all things, a bucking parkour accident, and even better still being a rotten bastard to everyone afterwards. I shouldn't be so happy about this, but I am... ...and that is why. Most of the animals in Dr. Fauna's office were cute, but two things did bug me. First, that bear was a cheap, knockoff Harry the Bear and had nowhere close to the amount of swagger that Harry does; he was just a freeloading bum in Dr. Fauna's office and when you have a great bear like Harry already, why even both introducing another one when you know he'll be nowhere near as awesome as Harry is? I mean, seriously, get a load of this bum! You ain't Harry, ya cheap knockoff!!! Second, the giraffe was cute in design, but her presence there was very confusing to me. Equestria is a world where we know that a number of animals are sapient; cows can talk and seem to have their own communities, or to even live among ponies (we've seen them buying stuff in Ponyville before but also seen them in dairy farms, but perhaps that's what they do as their jobs), and even sheep, despite being herd animals, can talk (though we haven't really seen that since Season 1, possibly because the writers don't want to raise anymore uncomfortable questions with it by even bringing them up again). I was wrong earlier that giraffes are related to horses, they actually really aren't, but nonetheless I kind of always thought that if they were ever introduced, giraffes would be sapient animals too. Heck, this giraffe's head resembled a pony's (at least by the show's own animation) so closely (she even had eyes like a ponies with the typical eyelashes they use to denote a female character) that it was downright bizarre not hearing this character talk. So I guess giraffes are just "animals-animals" by Equestrian standards now, but I still find that bizarre. Heck, I don't even know what to think about goats anymore; when we first saw them, sure, they didn't talk, but they were clearly assisting Iron Will with his show, which included running electronics and stage equipment, and yet since then we've seen them treated more and more like they too are "animals-animals" in this world. I guess my bottom line is that in this episode, Equestrian biology and how the animal kingdom works in Equestria just got even more confusing for me. I am so confused! Ah well, at least this episode had a super adorable sloth in it! Sloths make everything better, always, like, not even joking, they just do. And her name was Lola, too!!! Uh, Fluttershy, you, uh, you got something on your leg, there... Finally, while I did have my beef with the Mane 6 as far as the overall conflict goes, besides that they were fine. They really should have just helped Fluttershy build her animal sanctuary in the first place, but they made up for it in the end at least, and it's not like their hearts were ever in the wrong spot. I did think some of the "emotional" moments they had when Fluttershy was describing her dream were a bit forced (like, we get it, you love Fluttershy, but you don't have to be on the brink of tears just because she has an awesome dream and is super cute describing it), but overall this was one of their first group episodes (at least in some parts) this season, and I'm always happy to see them all working together towards something as a group, even if it was only for some of this episode. As I've said throughout this review, the animal sanctuary was a really cool idea and it was really neat seeing Fluttershy make such a cool dream a reality. But as a whole, this episode was just OK; there wasn't really anything infuriating about it, but too much of it was too forced and needless for me to really care about this episode either. I guess in that respect I'm OK with how Pinkie was in last week's episode since, even though I hated parts of it, I at least cared about her performance. I will always take something I care about, whether I love it or hate it, over something I'm just plain apathetic about. Still, an OK episode is still one worth checking out, and this one is definitely worth checking out for Fluttershy and her awesome animal sanctuary alone. That's all I've got for ya'll this week everypony; next week my review may be a little late since I'm visiting my girlfriend on Saturday when we both take a trip to Lansing, but I promise to get it up as soon as I can. Until next time, everypony, this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit* I have no idea how I missed this face during the episode, but this face is AMAZING!