Reforming Chaos: “Keep Calm and Flutter On” review

Ideally, the primary purpose of prison is to rehabilitate and reform criminals so they can one day reenter society. Or at least, that’s the idea. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out. Often, criminals are released, only to re-offend, somewhere down the line. Even if they seem to have turned over a new leaf.

It’s a sad fact of the criminal justice system. That sometimes, despite our best efforts, some people just can’t be rehabilitated. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. There’s always a chance that even the most hardened criminals can learn how to behave in the outside world. They can learn that it’s wrong to rob, rape and kill. And this week on My Little Pony, Princess Celestia relies on that idea when she releases Discord from his stone prison.

You remember Discord. The big bad from the season two opener. Real evil motherfucker. He toyed with our heroes and was inconsiderate of the fact that he was messing with everypony’s head. He nearly demolished Ponyville, and severely altered the ecosystem without a care. Thankfully everything was reversed by Twilight and the others, but the fact that it even happened is a major problem. This guy is obviously some type of sociopath, and a lost cause. The only thing I’ll credit him for is the fact that he didn’t kill anyone.

So it should come as quite a shock when Princess Celestia arrives in Ponyville, with the Discord statue, explaining she wants the ponies help to rehabilitate their former arch-enemy. Apparently Discord’s powers would be very valuable to the Princess, if they can manage to serve good instead of evil. I wonder why.

Well whatever. Twilight and the others are quite skeptical, especially Spike, who begins to freak out at the very idea of releasing him.

You know, let’s deal with this for a second. What do we know about Spike? He’s an excellent cook (Owl’s Well That Ends Well); he knows how to organize, clean and manage a library (Swarm of the Century, et al.); and he’s very brave in the face of danger (A Dog and Pony Show). So it appears that sometime since these season one episodes, Spike was replaced by a pod dragon because in this episode and the last, all of Spike’s primary character traits went out the window. This is seriously pathetic. Can’t they maintain a consistency with these characters?

Anyway Celestia eases their fears by reminding them of the events of last year, and gives them the Elements of Harmony as an insurance policy. This time cast in a protection spell, preventing Discord from messing with them. She has a spell like that? Well, that would have been great to cast on the Elements before Discord’s last appearance! One might argue that she thought the vault was enough to protect them, but we’re talking about the nation’s most powerful weapon here! Who in their right mind would honestly think that a single layer of security would be enough!?

Meanwhile Applejack and Fluttershy are running a bit late. Crisis on Sweet Apple Acres as a foul-mouthed beaver has built a dam in the worst possible location; resulting in a large-scale flood across the entire orchard; and Fluttershy is overseeing the negotiations.

I’m confused as to why that even happened! The beaver is obviously sentient, and should be somewhat aware of property laws. So why would he intentionally build a dam on someone else’s land!? Particularly without permission. Even then, I’m sure Applejack would have been completely in the right to just buck that thing to the ground. It’s her land!

So the beaver agrees to take down the dam, and Rainbow arrives to tell them they’re late for the meeting with Celestia. Once there, the Princess explains that she’s betting everything on Fluttershy reforming the old Draconequus. If anypony could do it, it’s her. I don’t see why exactly it has to be her. Best guess: it’s her expert diplomacy skills. But we’re dealing with a sociopath here. Are you sure she’s the best pony to deal with this?

So Celestia takes off, having royal business to attend to, and the girls use the Elements to release Discord.

He immediately begins causing trouble, stretching his joints and turning nearby rodents into muscled brutes. He then explains that he knows what they’re planning and finds it laughable. How does he know? Turns out that while he was in that stone prison, he was completely conscious and aware of his surroundings. I find that disturbing because let’s face facts: In his last appearance, Celestia explained that Discord was placed in his current position by the royal sisters. Now, since Luna spent the previous thousand years exiled to the moon, that meant that Discord was in that prison for at least a millennium. Trapped, unable to move a single muscle, and yet, fully conscious and aware. That must have been hell.

Ever hear of the book/film Johnny Got His Gun? It’s the story of a soldier who was hit by an artillery shell at the end of World War I. He lost his arms, legs, ears and face. He can’t move, see, hear, speak. It’s a state of living death. He’s a prisoner in his own body, only able to communicate by banging his head on a pillow in Morse code. He wished to die, he begged the doctors to kill him. Or at least put him on tour so the people would know what happened to him. Not exactly a bright and cheery story is it?

I know it’s not exactly the same for Discord. In his case, he could hear and possibly see, but he couldn’t move or communicate. And to be in that state for a thousand years? That would make anyone lose their mind. Damn, My Little Pony has gotten pretty dark.

Of course the ponies mention that they can always use the Elements if Discord gets out of hand, and put him back in stone. I’m surprised that doesn’t scare him more. But he argues that they wouldn’t risk disappointing Celestia. I don’t know about that, man.

So Fluttershy tries a different approach, and threatens to use… The Stare! © 2011.

Of course Discord mocks her. The very idea that simply looking at someone would be a threat is ridiculous. Then Fluttershy goes through on her threat, and Discord begs her to stop… then laughs at her again. The Stare did nothing. I’m not surprised.

But Discord gives in, Twilight rationalizing that Celestia would understand if things got out of hand. So he turns the animals back to normal, but quietly turns a family of beavers evil without the ponies noticing… Jackass.

Since he’s out of prison, the guy needs someplace to stay during his rehabilitation, and crashes at Fluttershy’s pad.

So as he’s getting comfortable, Fluttershy discusses her plan with the others, she’s simply going to befriend him. Really? I doubt he even knows what the word means.

The others are just as skeptical, and Rarity proposes that they find a backup plan… I thought they already had a backup plan: The Elements! But I guess she means an intermediary backup plan. Thankfully, Twilight has one, but doesn’t tell us about it.

So as Discord is making himself comfortable, Fluttershy goes out and leaves him alone in her house. Really? You’d leave a hardened criminal alone in your home only a day after being released from prison? Ho boy. Then Discord explains to Angel Bunny that he’s playing Fluttershy for the fool… yeah, we knew that.

Back in town, we find out what Twilight’s plan was: A reforming spell… wait… WHAT!?! She has a ‘reforming spell’!? Her plan is to resort to brainwashing!? Are you shitting me!? That’s pure evil! There’s no justification for altering someone’s mind like that!

Okay, maybe there is, but the fact that she doesn’t appear to give it a second thought really bothers me.

Well, thankfully, it doesn’t matter, since she apparently can’t find it. Turns out Discord pulled out all the pages that contained the spell, and started eating them. For once, I’m rooting for the bad guy. Nice one, Twi!

Back at the cottage, Discord has apparently pulled it out of the ground, and began spinning it around; causing everything that’s not nailed down, or capable of levitation to fall all over the building. Obviously Angel Bunny’s not happy.

Twilight arrives and explains that things aren’t turning out so great, and advises her to give up. But Fluttershy refuses. Am I the only one pissed about that ‘reforming spell’!?

She decides to show how much progress she’s made by inviting everyone to a dinner party that evening. Of course they arrive and the cottage ain’t what it used to be. Obviously Discord did a bit of remodelling.

So the dinner starts off well, Discord animating the gravy boat and candles to entertain the guests. But of course they start attacking Rainbow Dash after she insults them. Discord feigns ignorance, but the others don’t believe him. They try to convince Fluttershy, but she continues to give him the benefit of the doubt because “that’s what friends do.”

He’s shocked! Friends!? They’re friends!? He’s never had a friend before!

Wait… you’re telling me that actually worked!?

Suddenly! Angel Bunny! He quickly explains there’s a crisis at Sweet Apple Acres! Flooding! Again!?

The evil beavers from earlier have built massive dams, causing the entire orchard to flood, and Fluttershy can’t get them to listen. Obviously Discord’s involved, and even Fluttershy has to agree. Actually, she always agreed, but had to feign trust to get Discord on her side.

Discord appears, water-skiing on the flood waters, and Fluttershy demands he fix everything. He agrees, on the condition that she agrees to never use her Element against him. Oh, yeah, this is a trap. But for some stupid reason, she gives in and he responds by freezing the entire region. You can’t mess with the climate like that big guy!

Fluttershy is pissed. One would expect her to respond with her Element at this point, but she refuses. After all, she made a promise. Well, I think the promise is void, considering he didn’t uphold his end of the bargain.

But instead of taking Discord up on his offer to go ice skating, she walks away, angrily proclaiming that their friendship is over. As she walks away, Discord monologues, mocking her for thinking that losing his one and only friend will make him fix everything. Then he realizes, he’s losing his one and only friend… so he fixes everything.

You know, I find that pretty cool. A bad guy mocks the heroes for thinking such a foolish and ridiculous plan would actually work, right before their foolish and ridiculous plan actually works. It happened last season during the Changling invasion, and I didn’t like it at the time, but now, I find it fucking hilarious.

So Discord has turned, he’s now on the side of the goodies, and I everypony’s happy.

You know, it’s funny. This whole concept, Discord turning good, was an idea I also had… Twice! I had two different story ideas that would end with Discord turning good, or at least partially good. But it required something significantly more than simply befriending the guy. I have to say though, don’t think this episode is going to stop me writing them! I’m gonna ignore most of season three for the purposes of Fan Fiction. I’m not gonna let even the really good episodes ruin my plans. On that note, this was a good episode.

I’ve said before that this season is turning out to be a damp squib, and almost every episode has been crap, but I’m happy to say we have another exception to add to the very small list. I find it odd that the only good episodes this season are the two I thought I would hate. It just goes to show how easily one can be proven wrong.

But anyway, back to the episode. As Discord meets up with Celestia once again, she commends the ponies on their success, but advises that Twilight and the others hold onto the Elements, for insurance purposes. Makes sense to me. Hope she still keeps them in a vault.

Then something weird happens. Discord blurts out the show’s title, which makes no sense in context; and Fluttershy says, “he can be a real sweetheart once you get to know him.” Why is this odd? Because we can see Celestia’s reaction to this line. She nervously diverts her gaze. Is there something she’s not telling us? Something we might want to know? And why did she even try something so reckless!? Does she have plans for Discord’s skill-set? I’d love to know!

But I have a feeling we won’t be finding out anything until the season finale, which isn’t for another four weeks. I’ve said before that there might be some type of arc for this season. But this is the first time since the premiere that we’ve gotten any further hint of such a thing! Even then it’s only through a few strokes of mystery, and little hints you’ll have to struggle to find. Celestia’s hiding something, isn’t she? Well she’s hiding it very well.

Next week, we return to our regular schedule when Spike takes up pet sitting… Don’t know where they’re going with this, but I’m not looking forward to it.


2 responses to “Reforming Chaos: “Keep Calm and Flutter On” review

  1. >She has a spell like that? Well, that would have been great to cast on the Elements before Discord’s last appearance!

    Maybe she only found the spell recently?

    >She has a ‘reforming spell’!? Her plan is to resort to brainwashing!? Are you shitting me!? That’s pure evil! There’s no justification for altering someone’s mind like that!

    Wasn’t what they did to Nightmare Moon basically a reforming spell?

    • Well, regarding Nightmare, we can’t really be sure. I mean it’s never mentioned in the show, but according to the episode’s writer, there was an outside influence in Luna’s transformation. I think they just reversed the pre-existing brainwashing and purged the corruption from her mind. At one point, Luna was good. They just returned her to that state.

      But it’s never mentioned on the show, so who knows? I’m still waiting for some type of flashback episode detailing the first Nightmare crisis.

      However, with Discord, that’s him, that’s how he always was. There’s no outside influence, we know that. You use a spell to purge the evil from him, that’s most certainly brainwashing.

      You would have had a better argument if you mentioned Stargate: Ark of Truth. That was certainly brainwashing by the good guys. And in that case I think they did a good job by mentioning the ethical concerns surrounding it.

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