Special Guest Star: John de Lancie as Discord Written by Meghan McCarthy and Ed Valentine
As Fluttershy prepares for a short trip to visit the Breezies elsewhere in Equestria, Twilight is anxious about the soon-to-be arrival of Princess Cadance. Twilight notes that a few times they've met, the fate of Equestria has hung in the balance, and wants to have one day where the two of them bond as sisters-in-law. A traveling Starswirl the Bearded exhibit seems like the perfect mares' day out. Moments after Fluttershy's train departs, Cadance arrives, excited to see Twilight.As the two princesses leave for the exhibit, Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash suddenly see a huge blue creature spinning towards them. It's Discord, who's become inexplicably sick with the "blue flu." With Fluttershy gone, Discord asks the other ponies to watch over him while he's sick. However, Rainbow Dash bolts away, Pinkie Pie is distracted by a balloon, and Discord "accidentally" gets Applejack and Rarity sick with the blue flu as well, leaving nopony but Twilight capable of watching Discord.At the exhibit, Twilight and Cadance are admiring the ancient wizard's artifacts when Discord interrupts, asking for assistance in the name of friendship. Cadance puts herself and Twilight in a magic health bubble to prevent them from getting sick as well, and then the two princesses take him back to the Golden Oaks Library, hoping to make Discord comfortable as quickly as possible so that they can get back to their afternoon.Discord's ever-growing requests prove maddeningly difficult (topped off with a tiny glass of water). When an exasperated Twilight starts searching all her books for a cure, he informs her that the only way to heal his blue flu is to pluck a flower from a hilltop at the edge of Equestria at sunset and brew its petals into a tea. Towing the prostrate Discord behind them, Twilight and Cadance arrive at the hill, only to find that the flower in question is enormous. They still manage to pluck it from the ground, only to be set upon by an enormous underground plant wurm which apparently eats ponies. Cadance and Twilight save each other from the wurm's grasp, overpower it, and finally seal it back under the ground.They take the flower down the hill to Discord... who's laughing, dancing, and no longer blue. To nopony's surprise, his illness was bogus the entire time. As Twilight fumes, Discord insists that it was all a Secret Test of Character — that he just wanted to see how far Twilight would go in the name of their friendship. He gloats that she should be proud to have passed his test, even though it ruined the day she'd planned to spend with Cadance. Just then, Cadance speaks up, saying he didn't ruin their day at all. She admits that life in the Crystal Empire, while nice, is a little boring, and some adventure had been just what she needed. As Discord sourly digests this, the flower wurm suddenly reappears... and sneezes on them. Twilight and Cadance are safe in the health bubble, but Discord, unprotected, gets sick for real.Later, in Fluttershy's cottage, Twilight dictates her entry in the Mane Six's journal: even the most chaotic of days can still be a bonding experience for a pair of good friends. Sick in bed, Discord wonders if he can trouble anypony for just a tiny glass of water.
Twilight yet again geeks out over Starswirl the Bearded. She even knows which bell from his outfit will be put on display at the traveling museum. Twilight again, when she learns that Cadance can spare time to visit.
Fluttershy has her own moment at the beginning during her initial excited outburst over being invited to study the Breezies.
Cadance surprisingly, proves to be just as enthusiastic as Twilight when they're touring the museum.
Annoying Patient: Discord plays this role, though he's just faking it until the end.
An Aesop: Just because your plans with a friend fall to chaos, doesn't mean you can't still enjoy spending time together, because in the end, that's all that's important.
Ascended Meme: Similar to the Actor Allusion on the trivia page, Discord also checks underneath a tree for Fluttershy, alluding to the Fluttertree meme.
Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: After saying goodbye to Fluttershy, Pinkie finds herself distracted by a balloon floating by. She also ends up being omitted from the bulk of the episode when Discord distracts her with another balloon a little later on.
Pinkie Pie: Hey! Who keeps throwing away these perfectly good balloons?!
Bash Brothers: Bash Sisters-in-Law here — Twilight and Cadance against the Tatzlwurm. They both save one another and bring it down together.
Big "NO!": At the end of the episode, when Discord asks Twilight if he can trouble her for a glass of water again, she flat out tells him "NO!"
The Cameo: Flash Sentry is one of the two guards who escort Cadance at the train station.note While Meghan McCarthy did claim he wouldn't show up in Season 4, his appearance was merely a nod inserted by the animators.
Chekhov's Gun: Cadance's magical sneeze guard ended up protecting her and Twilight against the Tatzlwurm's illness.
Twilight uses her Nightmare Night costume to cosplay as Starswirl the Bearded at the exhibit.
One of the crazy shots during Discord's song is of him squeezing an abstract Twilight first seen during the "B.B.B.F.F." reprise.
Discord also briefly removes Twilight's horn, again. This time he turns it into a bouquet of roses! Twilight is visibly shocked by this.
Cool Train: Instead of the typical Equestrian train, Cadance rides a high speed train made of crystal!
Deflector Shields: Cadance conjures up a barrier to keep Discord from infecting her and Twilight. Note that the health bubble appears solid to Discord only as long as he's pretending to be sick — he later does a Security Cling to Twilight when startled by the Tatzlwurm, and the bubble doesn't stop him, despite clearly still being here. (Unfortunately for Discord, it isn't big enough to encase him too when the wurm sneezes.)
Diabolus Ex Nihilo: The Tatzlwurm. It shows up straight out of nowhere when Twilight and Cadance pick the giant flower, attacks them, and gets sealed up underground. And just to hammer home that it was something not even Discord was expecting, it pops out of the ground again and sneezes on him.
Didn't See That Coming: Even Discord was unprepared for a Tatzlwurm; doubly so when he's about to "snap" it away, but then it sneezes on him.
Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: A more balanced example where Mighty Discord, the insane Mad God who more than once held Equestria under his dominion through sheer power alone and previously only the Elements of Harmony could stop him, is lain low by a sneeze from a Tatzlwurm, who are pretty powerful mythological beasts themselves.
Drama Queen: Discord becomes quite demanding when he falls ill, even breaking into song at one point. Because of this, Twilight chooses to go find the rare flower to have him cured quickly rather than spending time taking care of him.
Famed in Story: Fluttershy gets this for once, for she was called on for a major assignment. Prior to this, her talents seemed relegated to odd jobs around Ponyville.
Fascinating Eyebrow: Applejack's reaction when Discord claims his condition has left him helpless, affirming her position as The Spock of the Mane 6.
Fetch Quest: Discord indicating the location of the rare flower that will cure his blue flu — it's at the top of a distant mountain and can only be picked when it blooms at sunset.
Flower from the Mountaintop: The last demand Discord presents to Twilight and Cadance is that he wants a tea brewed from the petals of a rare flower that grows on a cliff on the furthest edge of Equestria. The flower happens to be the size of a tree and a Sand Worm happens to make its home underneath.
In the beginning of the episode, Discord ponders out loud whether or not Twilight and Cadance are still close, given that they've spent so much time apart. Near the end of the episode, he reveals his fake illness was meant to test the strength of his friendship with Twilight. Best to take that with a grain of salt, though.
Though it's pretty obvious right from the outset, the fact that Discord kindly rejects Pinkie's offer to willingly take care of him in favor of the more skeptical Rarity and Applejack should ring a few bells.
Blue Flu is the name given to a sickness that workers who, for one reason or another, cannot legally go on strike (for example, police officers, who are always on call), and so instead they will call in "sick" en masse to not do their job. ("Is Jim coming in today?" "No, he has Blue Flu.")
Something crazy happens every time Discord sneezes (a house floats away, a lamppost gains arms and walks away, hats come to life and chase cosplaying ponies, etc.)
At one point at the train station, sick Discord walks in scene with a typical hospital gown and an portable IV stand. As he addresses the remaining Mane 6, he turns his back to them to soliloquize, showing the gown isn't tied up in the back. The ponies all raise a hoof and avert their gaze until he turns back around.
During Discord's song, one cutaway scene is of an apparently airport security checkpoint. In the background, there's a unicorn mare with braces looking with great concern at the metal detector she's being guided towards walking through.
Another shot during the song, Discord blows a second house off its foundation, leaving a startled Bon-bon (her hair in a towel) behind along with a toilet.
Dash, Rarity, Applejack, and later Twilight and Cadance are all suspicious of Discord's "illness", especially since he seems to be able to use his magic just fine and only acts weak when it's convenient for him. Completly justified since he's not actually sick.
Hypocritical Humor: Discord states that he's too weak to lift even a spoon; shortly thereafter, he uproots a tree with absolutely no effort.
Jerkass Has a Point: Discord has pointed out that even though Twilight said that they're friends, she's never proven it.
Kryptonite Factor: Discord, who seemed to be unstoppable after the Mane Six returned the Elements of Harmony to their original place, is revealed to be vulnerable to some viral diseases.
Laser-Guided Karma: Discord spends the episode faking an illness to Troll Twilight and Cadance and even makes Applejack and Rarity sick as part of the act. Then the Tatzlwurm sneezes on him, making him sick for real. Lampshaded in the end:
Applejack: I don't wanna go sayin' you got what you deserved... Rarity: Well, I have no trouble saying it. You got what you deserved!
Mythology Gag: Though we'll expect to learn more in a few episodes, Breezies are a G3 species.
Nice Job Fixing It, Trickster: Discord highly expected his escapades with Twilight and Cadance to ruin their visit. However, Cadance admits she's had more fun than she ever did, and has grown even closer with Twilight because of it.
Never Say "Die": In his Patter Song, Discord says "I'll be grateful for your charity until the bitter end" and falls backwards in Twilight's grasp, clutching a red rose to his chest instead of a white lily.
Off Model: From the scene where Rainbow Dash moves Discord onto the train platform to his Group Hug with the friends, his entire head is mirrored (his deer antler/goat horn, Mad Eye, and snaggle tooth are reversed).
Offscreen Teleportation: A rare example from Discord who, being capable of teleporting around normally, has little need for this. After Rainbow Dash tries to send Discord packing by pushing him onto the train station platform, by the time she's flown back over, Discord has already teleported himself back to his original position after being out of shot for a few frames. Unlike Discord's standard teleportation, he also pulls this off silently and without the flashy effects that are normally seen.
Discord when he comes face to face with the Tatzlwurm.
Orphaned Etymology: Comes up twice during Discord's song: first is the "pastries from Abyssinia", which is the historical name of the African nation of Ethiopia; second is the Pekingese, a breed of dog named after Beijing (or Peking), the capital of China.
Patter Song: "Glass of Water", which becomes insanely fast by the end of the song.
Playing Sick: That "Blue Flu" he caught? It turns out to all be an act... Then he catches a real illness from the aforementioned Sand Worm at the end of the episode.
Rule of Three: The ponies react to getting good news in the mail. Twilight is ecstatic that Cadance is coming to visit, Fluttershy is ecstatic she'll get to visit the breezies, and Pinkie Pie is ecstatic that there's a sale on used lawn furniture.
Running Gag: Averted; this is the first time Twilight and Cadance don't do their song and dance's meeting.note It wasn't done in Equestria Girls as well, but that's considered outside show continuity.
Sand Worm: A Tremors-esque Sand Worm happens to make its home underneath the giant flower, and naturally attacks Twilight and Cadance when they uproot it.
Generally pops up whenever Discord's around, including an electronic heart monitor, an IV bag, and a shot of him pulling tweezers out of a bag in an airport, complete with metal detector, x-ray machine, and TSA-ponies. However, given these were all around Discord's own breed of magic, how many of these really exist in Equestria is anyone's guess.
The train Cadance arrives in looks like a modern locomotive, except for a steam exhaust.
Discord: While [Fluttershy's] gone. You ponies can take care of me. Isn't that what friends are for? Taking care of each other? (chuckles as he grabs Pinkie, Rarity, Applejack and Rainbow Dash in a hug) Let the healing begin! Rainbow Dash: Knock it! (zooms off into the distance and isn't seen till the end of the episode)
Sealed Evil in a Can: Uprooting the huge flower Discord sends Twilight and Cadance after unleashes the Tatzlwurm which proceeds to attack the princesses, attempting to devour them. Only forcing it back in the hole it emerged from and sealing it with boulders finally ends its attack.
Pinkie getting distracted chasing a red balloon is very reminiscent of the French film Le Ballon rouge.
Discord looks for Fluttershy under Pinkie Pie (who has the same voice actress), and then under a tree.
The song sequence has plenty of references, some moving so fast that you could easily miss them:
When Discord asks for codfish oil, the cod bears a striking resemblance to Big Mouth Billy Bass.
Discord, Cadance, and Twilight dressed in Hogwarts uniforms, complete with Twilight in glasses. (And for what it's worth, going by house color, Twilight is in Gryffindor, Cadance is in Ravenclaw, and Discord, naturally, is in Slytherin.)
Discord, when asking for lozenges, standing in a hilly field with a pony in lederhosen playing the sousaphone, like the Ricola ads.
Before leaving on the quest, Discord appears as the Hunter S. Thompson-inspired character Raoul Duke played by Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, down to the shirt, glasses, and hat. (This being a kid's show, the cigarette is replaced by a lollipop.)
Discord's chariot might have as well come from Xerxes' engineer's notepad.
Space Whale Aesop: Need a good bonding experience with your best friend? Spend the day trying to nurse an ill Mad God back to health, then drag him to your country's borders and get yourselves nearly eaten by a nearly tentacled Sand Worm together.
Stealth Pun: Near the end of Discord's song, during the line "and more and more and more and more of these", three further panels appear on screen without being described. Each of them could be summed up preserving both the rhyme and the cadence of the previous stanza: a bunch of saddled chimpanzees, a tiny circus full of fleas, a Twilight doll for me to squeeze, or even just "Trapeze, monkey, fleas and squeeze".
Stock Scream: The Tatzlwurm lets out a Wilhelm Scream when it's forced back underground; it's easy to miss since the beast's normal roaring sounds are layered on the scream.
Take That: During the song, Discord is briefly stopped by TSA agents for tweezers in his bag.
Third Wheel: As alluded to by the title, Discord's illness gets in the way of Twilight and Cadance's bonding time. Hilarity Ensues.
Train-Station Goodbye: When the Friendship Express rolls away from Ponyville, Pinkie Pie chases after it as she declares she'll never forget Fluttershynote who is back by episode's end. Pinkie is then immediately distracted by a floating balloon.
The Trickster: Discord, to no-one's surprise. He spends the entire episode basically trolling the mane 6 for kicks, since he can get away with it since Fluttershy is gone. One can also consider this to be the reason he was against Pinkie taking care of him, since Pinkie would have found his tricks funny or not cared. Even his supposed reason for the tricks can be considered another case of trolling since he was rather put out that Twilight and Cadance still had a fun day. Heck, he only found out about Twilight and Cadance by listening to Rarity and Applejack discussing them.
Written-In Absence: Fluttershy disappears for the episode to observe the Breezies. This is also what allows Discord to play tricks on Twilight and company since Fluttershy is the only one with any ability to curb his chaotic nature.