My Top 5 episodes for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (Season 3)
Yes, I do watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, but I do not consider myself to be A Brony. Yes, it sounds very similar to Sheldon Cooper’s claims that Amy Farrah Fowler is a girl and his friend, but not his girlfriend.
I won’t start droning on on about all the points why I watch it, but I will name a few as to just why someone like me watches this series:
1) Each of the characters has their own talents and faults. This truly bucks the old stereotype of tea parties and bad animation. Each of the main characters has personality traits that I think anyone can find relating to in some manner.
2) This isn’t one of those shows that you just plop your kids down in front of and walk away from. There’s even stuff here that some parents might grow interested in and sit down to watch. For example, in one episode that starts in a bowling alley, the showmakers included a couple stallions that looked like characters from The Big Lebowski.
3) The developer of the Friendship is Magic iteration of My Little Pony is Lauren Faust. That means nothing to a lot of people, but she originally worked on several series for Cartoon Network that some of you might have heard of. Series like The Powerpuff Girls, and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. The writing for those episodes was always catchy and entertaining to me (pity that Warner Brothers stopped distributing Foster’s on DVD after Season 2 a few years ago).
For Season 3 of Friendship is Magic, Hasbro changed up its release schedule, and only produced 13 episodes for the season (compared with 26 episodes apiece for seasons 1 and 2). The downside is there aren’t quite as many episodes to choose from, but I still managed to find enough for this Top 5 list.
Read on, to find out what I enjoyed this time around.
Once the guest-star for this episode was announced, it became one of the most anticipated episodes of the Season. John De Lancie returned to voice the chaos creature, Discord, this time released from his stone imprisonment in hopes he can be reformed. Surprisingly, the task is given to one of the most docile of the group: Fluttershy. While the others wish to use a more strong-arm approach to change Discord, Fluttershy chooses to try and make Discord comfortable, and let him have his way a bit, in hopes this will change him.
After his subtle-yet-manipulative workings in the 2-part “Return to Harmony” opener from Season 2, I think some were hoping for more of the same from Discord. However, the results were much different than expected. The episode still managed to have some fun with Discord, and even had a callback to “Return to Harmony,” in that Fluttershy is not so easily swayed, and neither is Discord.
While the episode has plenty of enjoyable little moments, it feels that resolving the main issue of the plot never really becomes concrete, and seems to come out of nowhere. If there had been a little more ground-work laid out, I think many could have seen the ending as being more satisfactory.
One area where some ground-work was laid out, was some background animation leading to a storypoint/revelation near the end as well. I did think that was a great way to keep secondary information flowing to the viewer without seeming like a konk on the head, and could be something that older viewers would pick up on instead of the younger ones.
When some people talk about their favorite pony characters, Pinkie Pie comes up quite a bit. The carefree, fourth wall-breaking pony is often doing plenty of off-the-wall shenanigans, and is one of the more high-strung of the main 6.
Pinkie’s big problem in this episode, is she wants to have fun with all her friends, but when it comes to choosing between swimming with Rainbow Dash, or raising a barn with Applejack, she is unable to decide, and attempts to do both. When she realizes she can’t, she then remembers a legend about a mirror-pool in the nearby Everfree Forest, allowing Pinkie to create a clone of herself (albeit single-minded in its pursuit of ‘fun’). When it seems there are more things that could be happening at the same time, Pinkie and the clone create more clones, and chaos soon reigns throughout Ponyville.
The episode took the concept of ‘too much of a good thing,’ and tried to make it funny (not to mention re-use as many older Flash animation rhythms of Pinkie’s from older episodes). It also serves as a creative way to learn about ‘prioritizing,’ something I don’t think many children’s programming adventures would talk about.
Much like “Flutter On,” resolving this episode almost feels like a mad scramble as the time left to tell the story ticks down. Some in the fandom also found the solution to resolving the Pinkie-clones situation a little extreme, but maybe that just shows how concerned some are for these characters made up of pixels and vector graphics.
After all, animation is the illusion of life, and if you can make people believe that these characters are alive, then you’ve accomplished a great illusion.
Another fan-favorite pony returned for this episode: the light-blue pony known as (The Great and Powerful) Trixie, a boastful magician. I never did see all the hubbub regarding her character in Season 1, but I thought this episode was one that was a little more fun than it needed to be.
Trixie returns to Ponyville seeking revenge for being bested by Twilight Sparkle way-back-when. Apparently, her being exposed as a magical fraud ruined her career, leaving her wanting revenge. Challenging Twilight to a magic duel, Twilight is unable to counter all of Trixie’s spells, and is banished from the town, which is sealed under a giant glass dome.
Unable to ask Princess Celestia for help, Twilight instead seeks out the help of Zecora, a friendly Zebra she knows in the Everfree Forest, while her friends try to find some way to fight back against Trixie.
This is one of those episodes that has many instances where you could easily go, ‘why don’t they do this,’ or ‘did they ever consider dong that?’ It also raised a furor with some fans for over-exaggerating Fluttershy’s nervousness in tense situations.
Unlike some of the episodes ranked lower on the list, I felt the ending of this one really paid off quite well, and had me wide-eyed a few times. I think that’s why it ranks so highly on this list: starts out with a decent premise, and has a pretty decent pay-off in the end.
There’s also a fun (if tragic) event that befalls Pinkie Pie, and leads to a big laugh right before the closing credits.
As much as some episodes focus on the main story of one individual pony, there have been a few times that main storylines have been given to Twilight Sparkle’s assistant/baby dragon: Spike.
In his attempts to make a jewel cake, he unknowingly ends up eating his supply of jewels. When Fluttershy asks him to babysit her bunny named Angel in exchange for a large emerald, Spike attempts to babysit the other ponies’ pets in hopes to get enough jewels to finish his cake. However, while his thoughts are intent on satisfying his own hungry urges, he doesn’t quite realize the responsibility he’s entered into.
“Just for Sidekicks” enters into a familiar story realm when it comes to a character learning responsibility, but still finds plenty of time to be entertaining, as well as provide viewers with plenty of cameos by the other pony’s pets, a few that haven’t been seen in a long while.
It also lassos in a couple younger ponies named Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo, and manages to make their appearances feel satisfying and funny, instead of adding extra ‘filler’ to the story.
This episode was one of two written by new writer, Corey Powell, and has a decent balance overall between story, humor, and plot.
What was the other episode Corey wrote? Well, scroll on down.
To me, I’m all about character development in episodes, even those that focus on one character in particular. In this case, one of the younger ponies named Scootaloo. Very little has been done with her character in previous seasons, and many had hoped she would get her own episode to tell a little more about her, as her friends Applebloom and Sweetie Belle got. The result, is Sleepless in Ponyville.
Just as Rainbow dash idolizes the pegasus flying team in the series known as The Wonderbolts, Scootaloo is in awe of Rainbow Dash and her flying skills. When Rainbow Dash notes Scootaloo’s ‘cool moves’ on her scooter, Scootaloo tells her friends that she wishes she could spend more time with her hero. They then decide to all go on a camping trip, and invite Rainbow Dash. Things seem to be going well, until Rainbow starts telling scary stories, which secretly freak out Scootaloo, causing her to be unable to sleep. Of course, Scootaloo puts on a brave face to make it seem the stories don’t scare her, but it soon starts messing with her sleep patterns.
Also of interest was that there were several callbacks to previous episodes in the series, and the character development that came forth from them. Plus, one (major) character in the series made a cameo appearance, that seemed to actually help instead of hinder a situation.
What also helps in the episode, is the concept of facing your fears, which is something that almost everyone can relate to, whether its going down a dark hall, or talking with someone regarding something important.
The episode also marked the debut of new series writer, Corey Powell. Corey’s debut to the world of My Little Pony showed a fun-yet-strong episode that truly is one of the highlights of Season 3, and as seen by my #2 episode choice, she has proven to be a surprise and welcome addition to the series’ writers stable.
This is probably the only Season 3 episode that I had no doubts in saying was my favorite. It feels well-balanced, gives familiar character interactions, feels connected to previous episodes, and also helps push forward the development of said characters as well.
And those are my Top 5 episodes for Season 3. As with any rankings of things, keep in mind this is just my opinion, and does not act as some be-all/end-all to Top 5 lists for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
Overall, Season 3 was good, but it felt like the height of the series fandom hit around the time of Season 2. Then again, Season 2 had a 2-parter that felt like the series’ The Dark Knight regarding its villain and story structure (minus death and ‘face-scarring clowns’). Season 3’s big 2-parter wasn’t much to write home about, but if anything, its 13th episode titled Magical Mystery Cure, brought about a rather musical-yet-questionable end to the Season, giving the series its first season-ending cliffhanger episode that is said to carry over to the first episodes of Season 4.
Speaking of Season 4, word is that when it starts up, it will return to 26 episodes, so if I decide to do another list for that season, I’ll probably up the ante to a Top 10 list.