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Several fans have taken issue with Griffon the Brush-off, specifically how Gilda is written as a flat, one-note bully. While its true that such people exist in real life and in the media, having a character who's a jerk simply for the sake of being a jerk seems out of place in an idealistic Sugar Bowl like this show. It doesn't help that all the other "bully" characters that appeared on the show were far more fleshed out than her or had an excuse (Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are just spoiled rich kids, Trixie gets redeemed in season 3, and Babs gets a believable Freudian Excuse and eventually becomes friendly).
Even worse is that it pretty much breaks the Aesop of Return Of Harmony. Take these two episodes side-by-side, and you get "Friendship isn't easy, but it's worth fighting for... except when it's not. Then you can retroactively declare everything null and void." What's worse is that Gilda's behavior, isn't even all that extreme compared to what our heroes would do, especially to the Canterlot snobs (who might be jerks, but considering the outright destruction the heroes would do, might actually be what's causing them to think Ponyvillians are boorish hicks in the first place).
It was also one of the many cases of They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Gilda was interesting, she had a lot of potential to become a great recurring minor character (being a Deadpan Snarker, an explanation of what turned her into a Jerkass, Character Development and becoming slightly less of a jerk, being a key to knowing more of Dash's background, and so on) for future episodes, especially those regarding Rainbow Dash.
Also, the way Dash lashed at her in the end was quite callous: in the last five minutes, Gilda was showered with pranks and humiliated at every step. Yes, she probably overreacted, but here's the thing: one prank is funny, five uninterrupted minutes of them, especially when they're evidently angering the subject, are not. Not only that, she believed the party was a trap set for her by Pinkie - sure, it was all a misunderstanding (she wouldn't have lashed at everyone if she knew it was not a trap), but Dash did not consider that. Everyone says that Gilda was a bad friend, but considering how Dash kicked her out of her life without a second thought despite them being friends for years, looks like that her friendship with Gilda was meaningless all along.
While Gilda's handling of the situation was certainly less than admirable, it was hard not to sympathize with her when she lashed out, given that Pinkie kept obnoxiously trying to monopolize Rainbow Dash's attention when Gilda had come a long way to spend time with her and probably didn't get to visit very often. And the Aesop at the end of the episode turned out to be "You can't control your friends' behavior, but you can control your own." So... Pinkie's idea of an acceptable response to the situation was, not to express her concerns to Rainbow Dash about Gilda's bullying, but to set her up for repeated public humiliation at the hands of someone she thought was a friend? The episode could have ended with an Aesop for Gilda about being less of a Jerkass and for Pinkie concerning her jealousy, but instead set up an obnoxious pattern in which Pinkie Pie repeatedly gets off scot-free for things that would have resulted in a lesson for any other character who behaved that way.
Boast Busters has Snips and Snails bring a gigantic bear, the Ursa Minor to Ponyville. The bear is quite clearly a threat, and does some serious property damage both to the local residents and to Trixie's travelling caravan. Twilight has to summon a few spells to get rid of it, including one that loses the town its water tower. As punishment for the two colts bringing such a dangerous beast to town, Twilight makes Snips and Snails clean up the mess and gives them moustaches. The cleaning up, at least, is a constructive punishment, but seriously, giving them gifts for potentially ruining or even killing pony lives, and for definitely destroying their property and forcing the Mayor to cough up money for repairs, does not sound like an appropriate punishment to me.
Swarm of the Century: the fact that everyone else had to apologize for not listening to Pinkie Pie, even though she was the one who never even bothered to try explaining herself despite having every opportunity to do so. It would have taken her all of two seconds to say "I know how to stop them," in which case the others would have been a lot more receptive to helping her out.
Even worse is that the others do come up with workable solutions to the problem by themselves (Applejack's corralling skills and Rainbow's twister), but Fluttershy ruins the first attempt through sheer stupidity. To be fair, Pinkie's ruining the second one was an accident, but she then has the gall to think she's more inconvenienced than they are! And no one suggests trying to use those solutions again.
The only reason any of the Mane 6 fall for Discord's brainwashing is because they're too busy banging their heads on the walls while carrying idiot balls. They're fighting a reality warping trickster, and when they see some warped reality they stupidly wander up to it and check it out. Then when said trickster appears right in front of them, they take every word he says at absolute face value rather than considering that it might be a trick. There's also the simple fact that Princess Celestia doesn't even bother to accompany them because she can no longer use the elements. With that kind of brain power running Equestria, the citizens might have been better off had Queen Flippin' Chrysalis taken over.
Special mention must go to Applejack here. The others at least have mitigating circumstances (in part): Pinkie Pie is childish enough to fall for the trick, Rarity attempted to resist, and Rainbow could conceivably believe that Discord was callous enough to be destroying Cloudsdale even as he spoke. But Applejack? Instantly trusts three talking apple-blobs and buys without question what a random pool shows her, which is the highly unlikely event of her friends breaking up for no given reason. She instantly buys that this is the truth! A brained monkey could have spotted the obviousness of the trick Discord pulled on her!
Lesson Zero. Twilight goes from worrying because she's late for a friendship report —when there wasn't even a deadline set in the first place— to brainwashing most of Ponyville because she can't find any friendship issues. Sheesh, it's not like they're hard to wring out of the most basic activities. Rarity flipping out because she can't find a ribbon? "Dear Princess Celestia, it's good to take care over the gifts you give to others, but not to stress yourself out over them." Brutish Rainbow aggressively smashing up AJ's house? "Dear Princess Celestia, sometimes what might seem to be a flaw in your friends can actually be a strength, and strengths are best used when they help friends out." Fluttershy beating up a bear? "Dear Princess Celestia, I learned that your friends can have surprising reserves of strength, and that it's not right to assume you know everything about them." Or something to those effects. Never mind why Twilight tramples so boldly over straightforward ethics to engineer a friendship problem. And the idea that her friends are supposed to take responsibility because they laughed it off, even though they could have handled it better, pales in comparison to the fact that Twilight endangered them and their neighbours for astonishingly selfish reasons.
Luna Eclipsed. Pinkie repeatedly causes trouble for an obviously distressed Luna; every time Luna tries to reassure her subjects that she means no harm, Pinkie misinterprets everything she does and stirs up her chaperoned foals into a panic, which at one point leads to the Ponyville residents reversing their opinion of Luna when the understandably frustrated mare has her heroic rescue of Pip turned into a slander. This might be forgivable if Pinkie genuinely misinterpreted these actions, but certainly not when she makes it clear she's been misleading ponies and upsetting the Princess "for fun". Even if you accept the idea that the whole town, rather than Pinkie, was in on the fake scares, how exactly was Luna supposed to know and how does this make it any better to frustrate her for most of the night?
Throughout the episode, Pinkie unintentionally made things harder for Luna by freaking out and making the kids run away, and she admits to acting scared of Luna. Some people know how it's like to be in Princess Luna's place and can feel for her and the ostracizing she went through. Pinkie should have gotten the lesson instead of Luna. This just sends a bad aesop that it's okay to get freaked out and vilify someone on their appearance. What the fuck.
Not to mention that the reason why Luna became Nightmare Moon in the first place was because she couldn't cope with the fact that ponies feared the night and liked the sun more. So yeah, Pinkie Pie might have almost caused Luna to relapse.
The Mysterious Mare Do Well. Basically, Rainbow Dash has been getting full of herself and her friends decide she needs to learn a lesson in humility. Ok, nothing wrong there. The problem is what was done to achieve that - her friends are annoyed by her bragging and decide to pose as the titular superhero to each her a lesson. This makes Dash progressively become more frustrated and desperate as the new hero steals her thunder, and starts doing stuff like breaking the dam and bothering other ponies over trivial matters. After all of this is revealed, the others claim they were showing Dash how to be a real hero and that she shouldn't brag. WHAT?! SERIOUSLY?! What's the moral here? If one of your friends is getting on your nerves, don't talk to them about it; lie to them and attempt to manipulate them into changing their behavior? If the others had tried talking to Rainbow Dash about her behavior and she had ignored them, I would've understood their actions, but they didn't!
It doesn't help that Dash's ego was never a problem before (she's more of a boastful hero), and the writer gave her borderline egomania just to make the episode work.
The episode "Secret Of My Excess" has one. Ok, so first Spike gets greedy from people giving him so many gifts (something he's not used to... despite that you'd think that Celestia, Twilight Sparkle's parents, and other people who knew Spike before the series began would give him gifts as well). Odd, but fine. Then, Spike starts growing larger and more powerful as he hoards more things. That's stretching the Willing Suspension of Disbelief a bit... But, it's a cartoon, so we'll let that pass. It's then explained that Spike's growth is a result of his greed and that the more he wants/obtains, the bigger he gets and they must stop him from being greedy to return him to normal. An interesting metaphor, if a bit overused. But, fine. But, then... then it's explained that this is a normal aspect of a dragon's growth. (beat) WHAT!?! Not only has this never been established before with the other dragon characters shown in the series (yes, they did hoard treasure, but they didn't mindlessly grab at any random object they could reach. And they certainly weren't reduced to Hulk Speak like Spike was), but it doesn't make sense at all regarding the lesson that the episode is trying to convey. Spike's greed is normal, but it's bad so we have to remind him to be generous with others by having him remember how good he felt when he gave Rarity that gem? Wouldn't a better lesson be "It's ok to want things, but you should learn to be patient and not expect to get everything you want right away"?
Not to mention the fact that Spike didn't just give rarity the heart as a gift right off the bat. Instead, we see her wanting the gem for herself and then turning up the charm and seducing him out of it. And yet nothing ever comes of this either. So... greed is okay as long as you flaunt your stuff to get them to give it to you willingly of them instead of just demanding it outright?
A Friend In Deed. Pinkie destroying Cranky's book was an accident, to be fair, but she's not upset because she hurt Cranky's feelings. She's upset because he vows never to be her friend, and her whole reason for pestering him is less "I'd earnestly like to help him around the new town" and more "he will be my friend because I always make friends". At least she seems to be getting a hint when Twilight and Rainbow explain to her why Cranky doesn't want her around, but then she throws that aside and insists on giving him an apology that doesn't look sincere at all, to the point of harassing him into boarding up his house. And just when the episode has them stuck in a stalemate —Pinkie won't leave him alone because he won't accept her apology, and he won't have anything to do with her because she ruined his diary— pop comes the Contrived Coincidence and the Deus ex Machina. And still Pinkie is most happy because Cranky said he'll be her friend, which is essentially Pinkie getting her ulterior motive fulfilled. With Friends Like These...
If you thought Pinkie got off easy for destroying Cranky's book, that's nothing compared to what her "friends" got away with in "Mmmystery on the Friendship Express." The former can at least be written off as an accident, the latter was completely selfish and slimy. Does it mean nothing to them that the Cakes poured their blood sweat and tears into the Mmm, while simultaneously taking care of two newborns? It doesn't matter how tasty it looked, it wasn't theirs to eat! The Deus ex Machina that took the heat off of them was such an Ass Pull. What really burns me up, is that we had episodes like Suited for Success where both sides of the conflict learn a lesson. Here however we see one of the most incredible Houdinis of the karma and lesson variety. Rather than "Dear Princess Celestia, today we learned that that we need to have better self-restraint, and that we should confess to our mistakes," the lesson is just some yarn about how Pinkie was in the wrong.
The fact that the episode goes out of its way to make Pinkie "wrong" for jumping to conclusions is a major wall banger. It also breaks the aesop of the episode due to one simple yet important factor. Pinkie had absolutely no reason to suspect anyone other than the other chefs onboard the train. Her friends essentially took advantage of her trust of them to essentially ruin something (via eating it) the Cakes' worked so hard to make. That is a horrible lesson to teach kids.
The whole idea of Pinkie's friends taking a bite out of the cake is itself a wall banger. For starters, while it is understandable for Rarity and Rainbow Dash would end up taking a bite out of the cake (given their personalities), the idea of Fluttershy as the third culprit comes off as an Out-of-Character Moment for her. Then, there's the cut scene that would have had Applejack revealing that she herself took a bite out of the cake as well, but made sure that no one saw her bite marks. Had that scene been kept in, that would have led to more fuel towards Twilight Sparkle being a Mary Sue.
This becomes even 'more of a wall banger when you consider what Element Of Harmony each of the guilty ponies represent. First, we have Rainbow Dash who represents loyalty. But, she's willing to betray her friend's trust by lying about eating the cake. Next, we have Rarity who represents generosity. Now, Rarity has done some pretty selfish things in the past. But, those moments were often played for laughs due to her Spoiled Sweet personality. This, however, was just mean-spirited on her part. And, finally, we have Fluttershy who represents kindness. The same Fluttershy who apologizes for accidentally bumping into someone and allows a Jerk Ass rabbit to take advantage of her for being so nice sees no problem with taking advantage of her friend's trust? And, as mentioned above, a deleted scene would've featured a fourth culprit in the form of Applejack who represents honesty. Now, Applejack isn't completely incapable of lying. But, it would be highly unlikely (if not impossible) for her to lie to her friend considering the guilt would likely be too much for her. The episode just basically makes the guilty party act extremely OOC for the sake of a horribly broken aesop.
Not to mention at the end of the episode when Pinkie Pie selfishly gobbles up the cake that the other competitors made, without letting anyone else have a slice. Sure it was Played for Laughs, but it doesn't change the fact that Pinkie Pie came off as a greedy glutton.
In The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000, Applejack proudly proclaims that she didn't learn a thing. It was meant to reinforce the concept of not compromising one's quality for the sake of quantity and about how you need to learn to be patient, but the whole reason things happened the way they did was because the Apples acted like terrible businessponies. That episode proved that with a few extra hooves, they could supply the entire town in under an hour. And yet, year after year, they never think to so much as hire a couple of salesponies (and they'd have access to them, since they're friends with the owner of Ponyville's equivalent of Wallmart) to run the stand while they put on a constant output. They don't even consider raising prices even though there's sufficient demand that they could probably get rich if they increased the price. And they create a lot of dissatisfied customers by not issuing rain checks to those who didn't get any, nor do they ration it when they see they've got such a huge lineup, instead allowing Pinkie to hoard it (there was a fancomic in which Pinkie deliberately did this to ensure that the cider runs out at the exact time Rainbow Dash would be served as payback for abandoning her and Rarity back in The Last Roundup).
Also, the way Pinkie Pie was bragging about the cider tasted when Rainbow Dash didn't get any was also infuriating. The Running Gag in the episode that Rainbow Dash couldn't get even one cider came off as mean-spirited and annoying. Her getting one in the end doesn't change it either.
Read It And Weep opens with an inexcusably flagrant case of Show, Don't Tell, and the plot bears some rather transparent contrivances.
Noteworthy amongst them being how this episode concluded with the heartwarming moral that it is narrow-minded to judge books by their covers. It might have been more prudent, however, for it to end with a message about robbing from hospitals.
In the episode, Ponyville Confidential, the moment that really got me angry was how the Cutie Mark Crusaders were discovered to be Gabby Gums and were shunned by the town, and even by the Mane Six (well, except Rarity, who at least tried to convince everyone not to get worked up)! C'mon! I mean I know the three were wrong for gossiping, but that was too harsh! The hypocrisy of the citizens is also one, because they enjoyed reading gossip about others, but when they were gossiped about, they got angry. What. The. Fuck.
In the finale, The Bad Guy Wins. During her victory, Queen Chrysalis gloats on how Twilight was the only one to have noticed her through the disguise, while the others were ignorant of all this. Applejack apologizes and Twilight only tells her that "she fooled everyone." Except... She didn't. Chrysalis, for the duration of her disguise, had Bitch Alert and Obviously Evil signs flaring over her with her jerkass behavior, sinister glares, and even doing a Villain Song complete with Evil Laughin the middle of a freaking wedding. The other Mane Five may get leeway due to not really knowing Cadance, the disguise, but it doesn't explain Celestia, who is related to Cadance, and how fooled she was. It seemed that the only people who got "fooled" are the ones holding an Idiot Ball.
Speaking of Chrysalis, her statement about Shining Armor's love being so great that it let her, an Emotion Eater overpower Celestia. It wouldn't be so bad if one could infer they were roughly equal power level and it tipped the scales in her favor, but the way she said it came across as though she was completely out of her league without it. Implying a character whom we never met before despite his crucial position in a main character's life and never seen interact with his beloved except via flashback and abusive doppelganger has this nigh-unstoppable love for another character who we never met before and yet has a crucial position in a main character's life and has a massive criteria for Mary Sue-dom in FIM circles comes across as Character Shilling of the highest order.
The fact that Chrysalis wasn't expecting to win against Celestia in the first place. So she planned to sabotage the shield and bring the changelings down upon Canterlot, just to have the extremely powerful Celestia banish them in one go? Some brilliant plan that was.
Oh, and the spectacularly bad performance of the army. The army's on high alert and expecting an attack, and they lose the capital in like 10 minutes (not even). The Mane 6 put up a better resistance than they do. Here's hoping that that's actually supposed to be a character flaw on Shining Armor's part. He may be a nice guy, a powerful warrior and someone you'd want fighting by your side, but he's a terrible commander.
That, and with the increased security, it never occurred to Celestia to employ the Elements of Harmony until after the invasion begins, even though she did it before with Discord. Instead, she just skimps out, decides to have a wedding despite this massive threat, and decide not to inform Twilight of this until just before the invasion begins. A lot of tension with Twily might have been dropped if she had been explained all this beforehand.
Also from the finale, the reveal of Shining Armor's existence. He is revealed to have had a very crucial role in Twilight's Backstory, being her closest friend as a filly, and somehow, they only grow apart when Twilight left for Ponyville (which is in naked-eye viewing distance from Canterlot, mind). What makes this really wall-bangy is that, Twilight doesn't forget about her teacher, Princess Celestia, whom she can visit at any time on a quick train ride to Canterlot, but she somehow forgets that she misses her brother, her own family and closest friend, whom she can also visit at any time on a quick train ride to Canterlot.
So Twilight is incredibly close to her older brother, and apparently knows her old babysitter Cadance better than anyone since she's the only person to see through Chrysalis - but she had no idea that the two of them were dating? Really? It's made even more egregious when the IDW comics telling the story of how Shining Armor and Cadance became a couple came out.
Made even more confusing by the fact that apparently, the comics and stuff like novels are non-canon to the show... and yet some are. What?
The mission briefing in "The Crystal Empire". Both Luna and Twilight have a point: "What if Twilight fails?" If King Sombra taking over the Crystal Empire would have dire consequences for the rest of Equestria, wouldn't Celestia try to do something like she did previously with Discord and Chrysalis? No, she stays behind in Canterlot Castle and treats this as a test for Twilight to allow her to advance in her mage studies, and she sends her and her friends risking their lives for the sake of Equestria once again, without the Elements of Harmony. I'm sorry, but the stakes are way too high for you to be fooling around like this, Princess.
Expanding on this a little: the point of the test makes Celestia look bad. Celestia was trying to teach Twilight that helping others needs to come before your own personal desires. The problem is that by not treating this situation with the seriousness it deserves, Celestia is putting Twilight's education —something she cares about very deeply— ahead of the safety of everyone else. Celestia comes off as a teacher who fails to obey her own lesson, which coming off of Season 2's finale, which has her teaching her student about not giving up on her instincts despite calling her out for said instincts, seems to be a habit for her.
Not only that, but the condition Celestia instills on Twilight the condition that only she must help. Twilight's studies revolved around friendship. Heck, her studies actually began when Twilight realized she needed her friends to help her. Again, coming off of Season 2's finale, in which it breaks an aesop, though instead of an aesop that was in an early episode of the same season, this time it breaks the aesop of the Series Premiere, if not the premise of the entire series!
Another wallbanger? King Sombra. You have one of the few truly evil character in the series, and what do the writers do? They make him the most pointless, boring, and utterly one-dimensional bad guy in the series? About all he does is growl incoherently, garble "Crystals..." occasionally, and act as a slowly approaching "Wall 'O Shadows" towards the heroes. Even his defeat was utterly anti-climatic. Yes, it was pretty awesome to see Spike get a chance to shine, but that doesn't excuse how utterly easily this so-called "major" threat to the Crystal Empire (and possibly all of Equestria) was defeated. The Diamond Dogs in their utter incompetence took more effort to take down. Sombra was supposed to be a bigger threat than even Discord and Nightmare Moon combined. Instead, he was just an utter waste to the point where you could hypothetically remove any mention/scene involving him and it wouldn't change the overall plot of the episode.
Still another? Twilight sings a big, grand song about how she's not prepared for her mission. Except all she has to do is go to the Empire, check and see if everything's okay, and figure out ways to protect it. At this point they don't even know King Sombra has returned! All they know is for whatever reason, the Empire returned. Nothing about this mission screams 'Impossible Task', but everyone treats it like it is. Not to mention that if they were so worried about this, why not bring the Elements of Harmony? Would've been a big help. But of course, this would require consistency.
Luna's general hostility towards Twilight in the opening scenes. Glaring down and scowling at her. The same Luna who is supposed to be very grateful to Twilight for freeing her from Nightmare and then again for helping her be accepted by her people in Luna Eclipsed.
Too Many Pinkies. Apparently, even though, everypony is my friend, Pinkie has never ever before had to choice between two activities from two different friends and suddely goes mental trying to choose? Really?
One Bad Apple. When Apple Bloom's cousin Babs Seed comes to visit, she becomes a bully after Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon antagonize the CMC. As time goes by, Babs' bullying worsens to the point where the CMC decide to get revenge on Babs only to realize what they've done and feel guilty when Applejack tells them that Babs was bullied back home. The CMC come to the conclusion that they're the bullies while Babs gets off scot-free and befriends them. The problem here is that while the CMC did nothing more than plan revenge against them and set up a trap, Babs went as far as helping to steal the CMC's clubhouse and kicking Apple Bloom out of her bed, clearly making her the antagonist yet she becomes The Woobie once Applejack informs them of Babs' bullying problem and the CMC end up claiming they were bullies for simply wanting to get revenge.
What's frustrating is that they believed they had become bullies even though they hadn't. What they did do is potentially endanger Babs but at no point did they acknowledge that as being a problem. It's kind of messed up the priorities this show seems to espouse; namely being a bully is the worst thing ever, and nothing you do can compare to being a bully. You could almost kill someone, and the show wouldn't hold it against you, but pick on someone? Harbingers of the apocalypse are more forgivable than you.
Magic Duel. Fluttershy getting repeatedly ignored by her friends when she discovers the Alicorn Amulet reference in the book, and then "getting volunteered" into doing the dangerous mission. For crying out loud, this is rude —not funny— and they're supposed to be her friends, not strangers who don't care about her. It's not like she was inaudible or had her voice drowned out by any other noises. And why would Rainbow Dash, the biggest daredevil in Equestria, and Applejack and Rarity, who have proven before that they won't shirk when danger comes to call, endorse Fluttershy going out, especially when Rainbow is supposed to be her fillyhood friend and should know better?
Peewee's absence in Just for Sidekicks. Spike adopting him at the end of Dragon Quest was a beautiful moment, and a key turning point in his growth as a character, and now all of a sudden we're given a yarn about Spike giving him away? The phoenixes flew off and left no trace of where they could be, so unless Spike somehow located them, there's no way Spike was able to find the parents and return Peewee.
Speaking of Just for Sidekicks, Spike ate all his gems that are ingredients for his cake in the beginning. So he got gems from Mane Six by raising their pet. However, he wasted almost all the gems thanks to their pets except for one. And what happen it the end? He ate the last gem before he can make that cake. Haven't you learnt your lesson in the beginning?
Angel Bunny being an utter Karma Houdini throughout the entire episode. Throughout the episode, he basically acts like a complete Spoiled Brat towards Spike and the other pets getting them into all sorts of trouble and nearly getting Spike caught at the end. And, how does Spike handle this? He promises to fluff Angel's tail and Angel is suddenly "nice" (if you can even call it that) again. Yes, Angel is supposed to be stubborn and moody. But, not since Putting Your Hoof Down has he been this much of a jerkass.
Angel was more of a jerk than usual in this episode. Spike was being selfish and a bit of a jerk, but this was just abuse.
At one point in the episode, Zecora accuses Spike of being greedy just because he's being paid to babysit pets. Zecora? That's not being greedy. What Spike is doing is called a "job". Yes, he sucks horribly at it (mostly due to him being more concerned with baking a cake than with animal care), but at least he's working for his payment rather than just randomly hoarding gems.
The episode Games Ponies Play just suffers from a dull and predictable comedy of errors plot, as in "is a humorous play that involves mistaken identity and has a happy ending". It has already been done and this one adds nothing new, and the happy ending is way too forced, especially since Miss Harshwhinney's complaints are spot on, and the only difference between what happened with her in the Crystal Empire and elsewhere is that the welcoming intended for her happened to the random rube, and in fact she gets treated like crud by the random passers-by who splash her.
The characters as they were written are, for the most part, portrayed at their most brainless and grating.
When you consider the backstories of how the Mane Six got their Cutie Marks in The Cutie Mark Chronicles, it becomes apparent that problems begin to appear in terms of the ponies switching "destinies" in Magical Mystery Cure. While Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash's changed "destinies" remain true to the cause of Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy's Cutie Marks respectively, the rest have issues, with the biggest problem being Rarity with Rainbow Dash's destiny. Besides the fact that weather is pretty much supposed to be a task for Pegasi to begin with, Rarity's changed destiny as a pony controlling the weather has absolutely nothing to do the actual origin for Rainbow Dash's Cutie Mark (which involves her going so fast that she made a Sonic Rainboom).
It's a minor gripe, comparatively, but still, the pacing... The episode hurries its way through the key conflict, and then dedicates more than a third of its runtime to the denouement.
Is it this troper, or is there a feeling that the whole "alicorn" plot should've been something done as a series finale, not some 22-minute half-assed piece of shit plot that seems to shove "Alicorn Twilight" into what seems to be a normal episode otherwise? Especially after the relatively exciting major episodes like Return of Harmony, A Canterlot Wedding or even The Crystal Empire. And they want a major event go like this.
There's a number of WallBangers to be found in Magical Mystery Cure, but perhaps the most grating is that Applejack apparently abandoned her family to starve.
And that her family is so incompetent that they can't pick up Applejack's slack even a little, even though Big McIntosh's share in Applebuck Season is something like twice what Applejack handles.
It seems more than a little unfair that Twilight gets to ascend to alicornhood while her friends —who, might I add, were not only victims of Twilight's incompetence, but instrumental in creating the new magic— receive no comparable recognition. Apparently, being honest, loyal, kind, generous, and funny (and being co-learners of the friendship of magic for three seasons) counts for little when you're not also magically Off The Charts and a favourite of the princess. Oh yeah, plus Destiny Said So.
It seems to break the "balance" of the Elements of Harmony as well. Before that we used to have two members of each race of ponies representing one of the elements, but now we have an all-powerful demigod and five regular ponies.
The whole upcoming Rainbow Power plot (aside from also being a new toy-line) seems to be designed to give the other five relevance by most likely granting them Sailor Senshi-like powers that they can call upon when in need. The biggest problem with this? Twilight is also going to receive the same power-up herself, making her even more powerful and focused on than before while the rest keep lagging behind forever. The exact same thing was a massive problem in Sailor Moon to the point where the other Senshi could do very little without Sailor Moon saving the day. And with the backlash that Alicorn Twilight receives (and still does), there is no chance of any of the rest getting to her level and Rainbow Power was probably conceived as a replacement.
There's a huge problem with the whole "cutie mark switching" plot aspect. To put it bluntly, cutie marks don't work that way. Not once prior in the series does it ever mention a pony must do whatever his/her cutie mark represents. By that logic, Cheerilee would've been a florist or gardner instead of a teacher. And, no, the whole "but it changed their destiny" aspect doesn't excuse the whole concept.
Likewise, the idea of Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity being horrible at their "jobs" after their cutie marks have switched is also a major Wall Banger. For one thing, a cutie mark symbolizes one's special talent or an aspect of their personality that makes them shine as an individual. For another thing, and going with the above statement, even if a pony must do what their cutie mark says, why would the main heroes suddenly be horrible at their jobs if their destinies are switched? When Applebloom got the "cutie pox" in Season 2, her main conflict was that she was really good at the numerous talents from multiple cutie marks, but she couldn't stop doing them. And, even then, that was a disease and not really her real talent(s). This episode, however, contradicts how cutie marks work in general all for a forced "conflict" that's so easily resolved it may as well not have happened in the first place.
Even more difficult to stomach is the fact that Ponyville is presented as being incapable of surviving without the Mane Six around to do their jobs. None of the pegasi clear the clouds Rarity keeps misplacing, none of the Apple family lift a hoof to correct Pinkie's errors, and everypony in town quickly becomes an angry Jerk Ass because Pinkie isn't around to keep them in a good mood. They don't even seem to notice that the girls are acting wildly out of character, and simply complain because of the errors they're making. What are the writers trying to say? That ordinary ponies are hopeless and self-destructive idiots who can be beaten by three confused girls?
In relation to the above, the implications suggest that this would mean that the Mane Six must be absolutely perfect at their jobs or else society falls apart. That's right. Nevermind all the Pegasi working at the rainbow factory, never mind Mr. and Mrs. Cake balancing both their business work and raising twins, never mind the fashion star ponies like Hoity Toity or Photo Finish, or, heck, forget about the rest of the entire Apple Family. Nope. Only the main characters are apparently competent enough to do their jobs. Not to mention that it completely ignores the main cast has made mistakes before regarding their special talents.
The fact that Twilight Sparkle and Princess Celestia aren't called-out once for their actions (Twilight being essentially rewarded for them doesn't help) is a huge Wall Banger. Yes, Twilight does feel guilty for ruining her friends' lives. But, that doesn't excuse that not once do any of them have a What the Hell, Hero? attitude towards either her or Celestia. Nor does Twilight ever get upset at Celestia for the whole fiasco.
Rushing the plot was bad enough (this should have been a multi-part episode), but what was the final piece for Alicorn Twilight? "Created new magic"? Where in any part of the series was that mentioned as being a big deal? Since online the writers said this episode was written well before production started, they could have sprinkled hints about this at least in the third season. But it instead comes out of nowhere as a big Ass Pull. So in short, Alicorn Twilight isn't a bad concept, but the justification for it finally happening suuuucks.
Keep Calm and Flutter On could be easily renamed Wall Banger: the Episode. The premise is already a big flat what: Celestia orders the Mane 6 to free Discord, a Mad God of chaos and evil (not to mention one of the few entities she herself fears) and wants them to reform him? ... Does she remember that the last time he got free he nearly destroyed the kingdom and psychologically broke (and then mind raped) the Mane 6? Is she stupid or what? If this was not enough, who's the one chosen to do this task? Twilight Sparkle, the only unicorn in the land with enough power to have a chance to keep him in check? Pinkie Pie, the one who has the most in common with him, appreciates his wacky antics and may actually bond with him? No, it's Fluttershy, the one that runs away crying if you call her a doofus and is afraid of her own shadow. The Mane 5 leave her alone with him the whole episode (stupid by itself since the Elements of Harmony work only when all together, AKA Discord could just turn Fluttershy into a chair and make the Elements harmless), and what is her strategy to reform him? Get him in her home and let him do whatever he wants (like he wasn't already doing whatever he wants), including devastating her house, mistreat her friends and pets, and try to manipulate her against her friends, but she keeps smiling and defending him as if she developed Stockholm Syndrome toward him (we just need Fluttershy trying to justify missing teeth and a black eye and it would be perfect). After this idiocy, he causes the flood and she dumbly promises never to use her element against him, that means that he WON, he is now totally out of control and can once more ravage Equestria!... but luckily the authors drop an idiot ball on him and he reforms anyway, despite that he had no reason to reform and never showed a single hint of genuine conflict for the entire episode, apparently because the local Purity Sue was the only friend to him... what? Aside from being abused by him, what did she do to conquer him? Did they do something together? Do they have something in common? It doesn't make sense. And anyway, why reform Discord? Why castrate the most dangerous villain in the show?
The end of this episode was another example of a classic wall banger that continues to deliver. When Twilight achieves something? She often gets a well done, you're awesome, you saved the universe from Celestia and everyone else for good measure. When Fluttershy wins the day (granted of course that all she did was irrationally deny common sense), on the other hand, the ponies are congratulated plurally and no-one points out that it was thanks overwhelmingly to one of them that they got wildly lucky when Discord randomly decided that after an indeterminate amount of time gleefully playing the Magnificent Bastard and loving every second of it, having just one delusional friend in a world of people that hate you is preferable to clearly being the most capable and nigh-undefeatable villain in this universe, bar none (Chrysalis basically winged it and got unbelievably lucky irrespective of her defeat, Sombra misfired in every sense except his visual design, and every other villain is piecemeal). Celestia's Pet indeed.
The trailer revealing Spike's counterpart is a dog. Think about it for a moment. In the main series, Spike is sapient/sentient, can fully understand another species' language, can read and write, understands the basic concept of monetary value, can use tools, etc. You'd think that this would mean Spike's counterpart should at the very least be a small child (considering he's just a baby/toddler in the main series). But, nope, instead he's a dog. This basically means that Spike is at best a second-class citizen and at worst nothing more than a pet. Unfortunate Implications doesn't even begin to cover how wrong this is.
This also raises another wall banger in the form of a major Plot Hole regarding how the portal works. Ok, so, if a pony crosses the portal, he/she becomes a human. Fine. If a dragon crosses a portal, he/she becomes a dog. Which is pretty dumb, but, ok, that's what they want to establish? Fine. But, here's where the confusion sets in. What would happen if the reverse were to happen? For example, if a normal pony from the human world were to cross over into Equestria, would it suddenly become a human? What about a normal dog? Would it transform into a dragon upon reaching Ponyville? Or, heck, what would happen if Winona were to jump through the portal and reach the human world? Would she transform into a fire-breathing dragon and wreak havoc upon the people at the high school? And that's not getting into other characters such as Gilda (a griffon), Iron Will (a minotaur), or even Discord (a draconequus). What would happen if they crossed the portal? Or could they not cross it at all for whatever reason? What exactly determines who becomes what when passing through? Is there anything that prevents one species from changing into another? There are so many questions surrounding how the portal works in changing species yet nothing is really clearly explained.
Sunset Shimmers had allegedly stolen the crown before, but doesn't think to try and steal it back with no explanation as to why she can't.
Didn't Celestia put it in locked safe? That would explain why neither Sunset or Twilight could get it. After all, Sunset stole school's "crown" to replace element in bedroom, Celestia just made sure it wouldn't happen again.
Twilight says that Equestria will do just fine without her despite that it's clearly established in-show that they need the elements of Harmony.
Somehow, Twilight and Sunset Shimmers manage to activate the element of magic without the others being nearby.
Pinkie Pie manages to guess exactly what's going on, but the only explanation the viewer is given for that is that it's Pinkie Pie.
The movie drops copious amounts of fanservice just to hide the amount of stuff that is just flat out not explained.
Rainbow Dash asks what hands are despite saying "On the other hand" during the show, amongst many other instances where the characters say stuff like "Give me a hand", "The task of hand" etc in the show, not to mention her favorite character's arch-nemesis has hands.
Sunset Shimmer says she doesn't understand the first thing about friendship despite that we are told she used to be Flash Sentry's girlfriend.
The heroes forgiving Sunset Shimmer for all the crap she put them through, which ranged from bullying to attempted murder.
A potential conflict that couldn't be resolved with Twilight not holding the Idiot Ball is brought up and quickly swept under the floor before it can go anywhere.
Twilight never asks her five friends to come forward and vouch for the fact that she clearly wasn't there. The fact that Flash Sentry is the one who bails her out and does nothing else important or of note in Twilight's quest other than that one moment, fans began to accuse him as being written in at the last minute.
Since when do they allow preteens (such as the Cutie Mark Crusaders) in high school?!
Despite never fully registering as a student at Canterlot High and never attending ANY of the classes, Twilight Sparkle was able to sign up for Prom Princess and won. THAT DOESN'T WORK! You cannot simply reward someone the title of Prom Princess if they are not a member of the school. She spent most of her time in the hallways and library! Couldn't they have shown a few scenes of taking classes to cover this plot hole?!
Also, where is Sunset living, and how did she register despite having no apparent existence on the other side?
Considering the Elements of Harmony had spent the last thousand years lost in a forest and disguised as five concrete bowling balls, and the Element of Magic didn't even exist as a material object, how did Sunset Shimmer even know it existed or what form it even took?
Well, in her comic backstory she is shown researching various forbidden books (including one on elements, which, because of their importance to saving Equestria, shouldn't really be forbidden) five minutes before being exiled, but it's not exactly canon. Still, I guess it's the best explanation we'll ever get.
A Wall Banger related to this is how the comic, a completely unrelated publication is covering this story. So the comic as a whole isn't canon to the show... but this comic is Canon to the show? And is this comic that's related to the movie canon to the comic? Then does that make the movie canon to the comic?! WHAT?!? If you have to resort to supplementary material to explain what your movie didn't, that's just Bad Writing.
Another Wall Banger towards the comic itself: In the movie, Brad is mentioned as having been Sunset Shimmer's ex boyfriend. This is never shown in the comic made specifically to fill in the movie's plot holes. Then why even have that line in the first place? This troper honestly assumes that there is some big What Could Have Been that we never got to see.
Not only that, but the comic simply goes out of its way to show Sunset Shimmer being a complete asshat, causing the people who didn't buy her Heel-Face Turn to use it as evidence.
Even if this is a High School themed story and adults must be useless, Luna falling for it makes her look like a complete idiot.
Whoever thought it would be a good idea to make a "Character meets her idol and learns a lesson about herself" plot out of Daring Don't really really needed to be smacked - not only did we have this previously (The Wonderbolts), but the episode itself just feels like a carbon copy of that episode of Hey Arnold!... but with a few legitimately interesting action scenes. If I had to pick apart one thing that stood out at the most, apart from the perfectly good plot wasted, it's the fact that Daring Don't is a real character... meaning the dozen or so adventures actually happened, and her main antagonist happens to exist. What. How on earth can Daring Do have all sorts of adventures, especially against an antagonist such as this, and nobody has EVER noticed this?!? I mean, surely, you'd think that the ponies she fights would realize "Wait a second, somepony is writing a book about us... and it's by this. Let's expose her." Her entire masquerade relies on the villains she fights not reading books. As for the plot that could have been done... Rainbow Dash for the first few minutes obsessively talks about how much she can't wait for the new book to come out, much to Fluttershy's annoyance. She shows many traits of Creator Worship (as does Twilight) and would really really get on peoples' nerves. She comes off as a stalker... in fact, this can actually be made into a very powerful Aesop about Fan Dumb and Hype Backlash... An Anvilicious Aesop? Yes... but in this day and age and with this particular fandom? The harder it's dropped... the better.
Bats!: Even though the second half came out of left field, the episode was good. However, with what happened in Swarm of the Century, you'd think Twilight Sparkle would know better than to repeat something that failed before without any corrections, especially now that she's a princess. What happened? Also, Fluttershy's tone of voice sounded rather cocky during the journal entry. If you ask me, more emphasis should have gone to Applejack's lesson instead.
Rarity Takes Manehattan: Suri Polomare stealing Rarity's dress designs - and she went unpunished for it! The episode recap page (at this time) claims that Suri will eventually fail in the fashion industry under the Karma Houdini entry. I disagree as that's mainly conjecture. Compare what happened earlier in the episode when Rarity was not early; Prim Hemline was quick to berate her. Or contrast what happened to Lightning Dust in Wonderbolts Academy; she was outright expelled! At the very least, I expected to see Suri get a thorough tongue lashing from Rarity, one of the other Mane Six, or even Hemline herself. But nothing! While this episode was good overall, Suri getting off relatively easy was just annoying.
Filli Vanilli: Pinkie Pie was just terrible this episode, it was grating the first time she played Innocently Insensitive, but almost every line of her dialogue is her being completely oblivious to her friend's feelings, and it was irritating.
Spike's treatment in general in both this and the previous seasons. Being a clueless, idiotic Butt Monkey doesn't even begin to describe him. Power Ponies was a nod towards his feelings of uselessness and being left out compared to the other six and the Crystal Empire gave him his moment to shine... only for things to just go back to the way they were after this, if not even worse than before. There's a reason people threw Cadance to the wolves upon hearing that Spike wasn't invited back to the Crystal Empire.
Spike is not a) female b) a pony or c) a part of the group tied together with a special destiny, so that leaves the writers with very little to do with his character. His crush on Rarity has been mostly downplayed if not outright dropped since season three, and compared to earlier seasons he seems to be more distant than ever to Twilight. He'll likely be left even further behind after the advent of Rainbow Power.
It Ain't Easy Being Breezies: Twilight's very last minute Ass Pull of the transformation spell. Not only because it shows how far above and beyond now she is compared to her friends and just about everyone else, but this was Fluttershy's key episode and the ending was spotlight stolen by Twilight's magic to save the day. This didn't happen in the previous three key episodes (Rarity Takes Manehattan, Rainbow Falls and Pinkie Pride), where the ponies acted and figured out things on their own.