Saturday, August 13, 2016

Ponies want cookies

Warning: after here be spoilers for the new My Little Pony episode that showed today. ("28 Pranks Later")

First up: I liked the episode. It felt well-paced, and the moral pleased me. And there were lots of good reaction shots, not the least from Rainbow Dash. And I just generally prefer the episodes that feature most or all of the Mane Six....And this felt more, I don't know, "timeless" in its story, despite the Walking Dead Ponies theme, than the fan-fiction one of a couple weeks ago did. (Also, nicely done closing music. I enjoy those little touches.)

So. Rainbow Dash is up to pranking ponies again. We have seen this before, most notably in the first Gilda episode ("Griffon the Brush-Off") but also in the first Nightmare Nights episode ("Luna Eclipsed"), where, dressed as a Shadowbolt* she freaked other ponies out by triggering thunder.

(*Are the Shadowbolts a real thing? Is there like this group of turned-evil ponies that dress up in costumes vaguely like the Wonderbolts and fly around doing bad? Or are they some kind of urban pony legend?)

Anyway. It's been established RD likes pranking ponies. In the past, she was a bit more mellow about it - I can't remember now if it was Rainbow or Pinkie (I kind of think it was Pinkie?) who declared You Never Prank Fluttershy in "Griffon the Brush-Off" (the assumption being: Fluttershy is kind of fragile and pranking her is cruel)

But in the VERY opening of this episode, that's what we see. (I don't know if Season Six is "Pony Faults Turned Up To 11" but last week's episode featured a fairly heavy Idiot Ball as well, and RD is still carrying hers here).

Fluttershy is walking through the woods for an unspecified reason, at night, with her animal friends (And yay! Harry the Bear is back. Harry has become one of my favorite non-speaking characters on the show. And really, he's a better friend-and-pet than Angel is: Angel can be kind of a jerk sometimes).

Rainbow Dash shows up in disguise and scares Fluttershy. And she reacts as you might expect: tearing up and telling Rainbow it's NOT FUNNY.

And yeah. As someone who's spent far too much of her life being either the butt of teasing or of pranks, I totally feel Fluttershy here.

(And I love Harry - he jumps right in and is Fluttershy's protector here. I need a Harry in my life.)

So Fluttershy clearly has a friendship problem, which is sort of the MacGuffin of the whole episode: she calls the Knights of the Friendship Table together to try to confront Rainbow and encourage her not to prank her in the future. And again we see the differences between the ponies - Pinkie LIKES being scared. Rarity and Applejack don't express whether they like being pranked or not, but they point out it's NOT FAIR to do it to Fluttershy. (And again: I wish I had had friends who had been better at sticking up for me in that way).

And then, poor Twilight - she sits on a Whoopie Cushion (so I guess fart jokes are canon in Equestria, sigh). I'm also someone who guards what few shards of dignity I possess and I resent it when someone takes it from me - so I feel for Twilight here, as well, ("Whoopie Cushions are like a joke shortcut" - Applejack).

Second MacGuffin time: The Filly Guides are selling cookies, and suddenly the Cutie Mark Crusaders are in this. (When do they have time to do their homework?) So RD has pranked them with cake? (I would like to be pranked with cake. Well, as long as it wasn't hot-pepper cake, or laced with Ex-Lax, or something equally horrible. Apparently these cakes were just cakes? Sweetie Belle eats quite a bit of them with no ill effects).

Applejack gets pranked, quite elaborately, considering she's set up a paranoid early-warning system around her bed.

We also see, in turn, Cranky, Spike (and Celestia, as a secondary victim), Cheerilee (and again, poor Cheerilee: teachers need SOME respect) and several others. Several of these pranks border on the cruel (as someone who's broken teeth before, slipping something hard into someone's food is NO BUENO)

Pinkie gets pranked, but wow, it's a mild prank. (Despite RD's and Fluttershy's past history, it seems that RD and Pinkie are better friends than any other dyad she might form with a pony)

So a plan is formulated.

And Rainbow Dash has her OWN plan....she is going to sub in prank cookies for the Filly Guide cookies, ones that will turn ponies' muzzles rainbow colored. (That seems mild enough. As long as none of the ponies have a Red 40 sensitivity....)

But Pinkie, once again showing herself to have unrecognized depths (remember, she was the only one capable of dealing with Parasprites), figures out, plans, and carries out an excellent alternate plan. (Spoiler alert: she encourages all the other ponies to act as if they have been zombified by the cookies. Don't 'dose' your friends, kids! (I have an acquaintance who unknowingly ate a pot "confection" her sister had bought and left out of its box....she wound up in the ER, thinking she was having a stroke. They finally figured it out but it was an awful several hours and I wonder if her sister paid for her co-pay. I'd have insisted upon that if it were me....))

Anyway, RD helps the Filly Guides spread the cookies around town. She doesn't know that literally everypony in town (and also some bears and rabbits and ferrets) is in on the prank....

And so, as Rainbow prepares to head home....she realizes it's quiet. Too quiet. (Heh. Rarity refers to a "cookie coma"). And so RD investigates.

And she finds....zzzzzommmmbbbbies. Cookie zombies. Who want grains instead of brains.

(I am not a fan of zombie shows/movies: my standard dystopian excuse applies here - I am sufficiently a pessimist to look at any dystopia and see how it could happen here. So if there WERE Shaun of the Dead or Night of the Living Dead direct references (other than, you know, barricading yourself in somewhere and the concept of "slow zombies"), I missed them)

I mean, it was pretty heavily indicated (I think) it was a prank from the get-go, so that plus the fact that they only want COOKIES* and not brains, it's less scary for kids.

(*Wait. There was a "Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy" episode that was called something like Brown Evil and the idea was people got zombified from brownies. Interesting.)

Anyway. In the end Rainbow learns her lesson - pranking ponies isn't that funny if you're the only pony laughing in the end. (THANK YOU. And can you please reshow this episode right before April Fool's Day?). Frankly pretty sweet to see somepony get a dose of her own medicine and learn something from it. (And as someone who dislikes most pranks - at least those that seem designed to scare or humiliate - and most teasing, I think this is a valuable lesson to remind viewers of)

I can also imagine the run-up to this in Ponyville: Pinkie standing on a stage, going "OKAY! Which of you ponies always dreamed of acting in a horror movie? Because today's your LUCKY DAY!!!"

Also: Male unicorn (blue with gold hair) who shares Twilight's cutie mark. A one-off? A future character in the offing? A cousin?

And now I kind of want an epic layer cake....

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