Written by M.A. Larson
Cheerilee and the kids are visiting the world famous Canterlot Sculpture Garden, where there are statues representing friendship, victory, and... a tall slender fellow with a head of a pony and a body made of many different animals, like a lion's paw and a snake's tail. Cheerilee asks the class what that represents, and Cutie Mark Crusaders respond with a variety of answers, calling Scootaloo a dodo in the process.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders begin to fight amongst each other until Cheerilee explains that, in a way, they're all right. The statue represents discord, and because they demonstrated it so well they have to write an essay. Cheerilee and the kids head off and did that statue just laugh?
Back in Ponyville, Rainbow Dash is flying around when she is hit by a low-flying pink cloud. Now, we know this is a Sugar Bowl, but it's been established that clouds do not move on their own outside the Everfree Forest. They are also not made of cotton candy. Suddenly, cotton candy clouds are everywhere and they pour out rain made of chocolate milk.
Soon the rest of the Mane Six meet up at Sweet Apple Acres, where cornfields are turning into popcorn, apples are growing to mammoth sizes, and rabbits are growing deer legs. The girls manage to calm the candy storm and the mutated animals through teamwork, only for Spike to burp up an emergency letter from Princess Celestia.
At the palace, Celestia informs the girls that an old foe has returned...Discord, the mischievous Spirit of Disharmony... and gives some backstory on Equestria. Discord once ruled the land in eternal chaos and unhappiness, until Celestia and Luna discovered the Elements of Harmony and turned him into a garden ornament. However, since Celestia and Luna are no longer connected to the Elements (probably because of that whole Nightmare Moon business), the spell on Discord has lifted. It is now up to our heroines, the champions who defeated Nightmare Moon and redeemed Princess Luna, to wield the Elements of Harmony once again to defeat this dark god of chaos.
...But they're missing! Who could have stolen the Elements of Harmony? The stained-glass windows begin to move by themselves, all handiwork of the culprit, Discord.
It seems Discord has "borrowed" the Elements, and he already knows all about our heroines and which Element of Harmony they represent. Celestia is getting impatient with Discord's escapades, and let us remind you that she usually has the patience of a saint. Discord gives our girls a riddle.
Twilight believes Discord is referring to the hedge maze out back... where the children were arguing earlier. Surely with the magic of flight Rainbow Dash will find the Elements in no time. That is, if her wings were still on her. Fluttershy's wings and the unicorns' horns disappear as well, and Discord appears! He says that it's time to play a game. The first rule is no flying or magic. The second rule is everypony has to play, or the game is over.
The girls enter the maze and, with their first united step, are instantly divided by Discord's magic. He then takes the time to manipulate all of Twilight's friends to reject the elements that they represent, finishing the job with magic and causing their colors to become desaturated.
- Discord uses piles of talking apples claiming to be the "Keepers of the Grove of Truths" to show Applejack the "honest truth" of what will happen; the Circle of Friendship will be broken. After facing her with how much the truth can hurt and the idea that lies might be easier, he makes her chronically dishonest (that is, lying through her teeth).
- He uses balloons with the faces of Pinkie's friends to laugh at her, suggesting that her friends don't really like her. After a brief "torture" session consisting of all the balloons laughing at her, Discord hypnotizes Pinkie, making her unhappy and unfriendly.
- He tempts Rarity with a beautiful shiny something, and she becomes enchanted as soon as she succumbs to the temptation to dig it out. It turns out to be a diamond bigger than herself that she becomes extremely possessive of. However, the "diamond" is actually a giant rock; Rarity is brainwashed into seeing it as a jewel.
- He tries to turn Fluttershy against her friends, but she has too much trust to think they abandoned her, and too little ego to mind being thought of as weak or being criticized... so he just goes ahead and magics her into being cruel anyway.
- He presents Rainbow Dash with conflicting loyalties: stay in the maze and continue searching for her friends and the Elements, or take back her wings and go save Cloudsdale from destruction, betraying something she cares about regardless of what choice she makes. Of course, he hypnotizes her before she can make the choice.
After each pony gets corrupted, Twilight meets up with them, shocked and confused at they are all now the opposite of their Elements, but has no idea why. They eventually spot the disloyal Rainbow Dash flying away — because she broke the "no wings, no magic" rule, the game is over and Discord has won! Black clouds and lightning abound! All is lost, a storm of chaos has arrived! Equestria is doomed!
TO BE CONTINUED
Continued in "The Return of Harmony, Part 2".
- Actually Pretty Funny: When Discord stands on the head of an image of Twilight Sparkle and does a little dance, Pinkie Pie can't help but laugh. She does represent the Element of Laughter, after all.
- And I Must Scream: As the brainwashing effect by Discord takes place on them, the Mane ponies could only be aware that they had fallen into Discord's traps.
- Apple of Discord: Played quite literally with Applejack by Discord himself, and more figuratively with everypony else.
- Art Shift: A minor one. Everypony else remains the same, but Discord's first appearance takes place as he magically slinks around the stained glass windows of Canterlot Tower.
- Ascended Meme: In "Stare Master", Apple Bloom calls Scootaloo a chicken. Naturally, the fandom took this and made it into a meme. In this episode, she gets called a dodo, another flightless bird.Scootaloo: Don't call me things I don't know the meaning of!
- As You Know: Celestia and Discord take a few moments to remind the viewers of the series premiere and what Element each pony represents.
- Awful Truth: Discord's manipulation of Applejack starts by telling her that the truth can hurt, and there are some truths she'd rather not know.
- Bad "Bad Acting": Fluttershy using "reverse psychology" on the animals to get them to eat away the candy clouds and popcorn.
- Bad Liar: Applejack was always a bad liar, but this episode takes it to a new extreme. Corrupted Applejack, in addition to her lies being obvious, bites her lip and makes shifty eyes every time she lies. Her "poker face" became a meme within a few hours of the episode being aired.
- The Bad Guy Wins: The episode ends with Discord successfully brainwashing all of Twilight's friends and letting his reign of chaos loose on Ponyville.
- Became Their Own Antithesis: Discord's hypnosis of the mane cast essentially turns them into their own evil counterparts, complete with color fading. Applejack becomes a chronic and impulsive Bad Liar, Pinkie Pie becomes deadly serious and perpetually angry, Rarity becomes self-absorbed, Fluttershy becomes a total Jerkass, and Rainbow Dash abandons her friends.
- Beware the Silly Ones: Discord may bring the sensibilities of Q in prankster mode, Large Ham and all, but he has a very cruel sense of humor and the competence to carry it out.
- Big Bad: Discord
- Big Ball of Violence: Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo form one when they can't agree on what the body structure of the Draconequus represents.
- Big "NO!": Rainbow Dash lets loose with one when Discord shows her a vision of Cloudsdale being destroyed.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs:Applejack: Rainbow Dash, what's going on with this rain? I mean, chocolate milk? I mean, chocolate milk rain?
- Break the Cutie:
- Discord's goal behind his little "game" was to do this to everyone (except Twilight) and he succeeds, although he has to cheat with Fluttershy.
- Twilight gets this by proxy, as Discord reunites Twilight with her friends one by one after breaking them. She can't figure out what's wrong with them, and she has to suffer through her friends treating her like dirt. The look on her face after getting verbally assaulted by the corrupted Fluttershy paints a clear picture that she's been broken, too...
- Brick Joke: In an earlier interview with Jayson Thiessen, Season 2's executive producer, he explicitly said that Salvador Dalí would not appear in the show, and the interviewers laughed it off as a non-sequitur.
- Brought Down to Normal: Discord has the power to instantly take away pegasus wings and unicorn horns.
- Cassandra Truth: Rainbow Dash flying away and leaving everypony behind turns out to be the only thing Applejack wasn't lying about.
- Circle of Shame: Discord sets up a garden of balloons that circle and laugh at Pinkie Pie. She doesn't take it very well.
- Conflicting Loyalty: How Discord breaks Rainbow Dash. She is forced to choose between her loyalty to her friends and her loyalty to Cloudsdale. She chooses Cloudsdale after Discord puts the whammy on her, which ends Discord's twisted game in his favor.
- Continuity Nod:
Apple Bloom: [to Scootaloo] Cool... if you were actually victoryful at somethin'.
- One of the stained glass windows in Celestia's palace depicts the Mane Six defeating Nightmare Moon. Bonus points for mirroring the storybook illustrations from the series premiere.
- A more subtle one happens when Discord nudges Applejack after taking away Rainbow's wings, saying he did so to ensure there would be "no cheating" during his game.
- Another subtle one happens during the stained glass windows scene. When Discord is calling Celestia out on turning him into stone, he rests and knocks his claw against the image of Fluttershy, who previously fought off a cockatrice.
- What he does to Pinkie Pie takes advantage of her insecurity about whether or not her friends love her like she thinks they do.
- If he's really into in-universe Continuity Porn for irony's sake, he could be intentionally inverting the story of how Rarity got her Cutie Mark. ("A ROCK?! That's my destiny?!")
- If one pays attention to Discord's component parts, he's got pieces from every species who played an antagonistic role in season one. One of his horns is like a unicorn and he has a horse (or possibly buffalo) leg (Trixie and possibly the buffalo), a lion paw (the Manticore from the pilot), a griffin-like mane body and arm (Gilda), a green dragon leg (the dragon Spike encountered), a red reptilian tail (the red dragon from "Dragonshy"), a pegasus wing (Nightmare Moon), and a bat-like wing (which looks a lot like the cockatrice).
- Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle make a subtle one to their respective sisters' behavior in "Look Before You Sleep".
Sweetie Belle: That's not a word!
- Corrupt the Cutie: While all of the Mane Six are cute, special mention goes to the Pinkie and/or Fluttershy, the latter of which Discord was forced to corrupt directly when his psychological attack fails.
- Covered in Mud: Pinkie, as precursor to Discord twisting her.
- Cutting the Knot: When Discord fails to talk Fluttershy into being mean, he just brainwashes her into doing so.
- Darkest Hour: The episode ends with Discord standing victorious, all but one of the cast broken and brainwashed, the Elements Of Harmony... the only thing strong enough to defeat him... in Discord's clutches, Twilight Sparkle all alone with the others brainwashed to be jerks, and a prediction that their friendship is going break for real looming ahead. It all gets better in the next episode.
- The Dark Times: Celestia refers to an era in which Discord ruled and caused endless suffering for Equestria. It is depicted in a stained-glass window as Discord holding ponies by puppet strings over a pit of fire. Complete with screaming!
- Delicious Distraction: Pinkie Pie kind of overlooks the whole Crapsack World aspect of Discord's rule in favor of the fact that it has chocolate rain. "Chocolate. Rain!"
- Despair Event Horizon: All of the protagonists end up broken by Discord, and then resort to awful things in their opposite personalities.
- Deus ex Machina: Lampshaded and averted when Twilight arrives with a "spell that will fix everything". It doesn't work, possibly because of the influence of the God of Chaos himself.
- Divide and Conquer: Discord manages to physically split the group up so he can pick them off one by one. In the end, Twilight Sparkle was the only one he didn't get to. That doesn't matter, though, because she's nothing without the others.
- Doomed Hometown: Discord uses an image of this to convince Rainbow Dash to abandon her friends.
- Dramatic Irony: We know what Discord is trying to do after he gets to Applejack, but the rest of the characters don't, leaving us to watch helplessly as they fall victim to Discord one by one. Twilight in particular, assumes it's because the maze is getting to everypony.
- Dramatic Thunder: Discord doing his Evil Laugh. Since he's a Reality Warper with a flair for the dramatic, this is probably intentional on his part. Happens again at the end as he stands posed to plunge Equestria into never-ending chaos.
- Eldritch Location: The hedge maze gets really weird, to the point that it's once shown as an Escherian structure with ground level of varying orientations. The rest of Equestria is liable to go this way too, if Discord gets his way.
- Embodiment of Vice: Each member of the "Mane Six" is corrupted by Discord to represent the antithesis of their Element of Harmony:
- Pinkie Pie represents despair and irritability;
- Fluttershy represents spite/cruelty;
- Applejack represents deceitfulness;
- Rainbow Dash represents betrayal and aloofness;
- Rarity represents greed and envy;
- In part 2, Twilight Sparkle briefly represents severance and disharmony.
- Emotion Eater: Implied with Discord. The Cutie Mark Crusaders fighting in his presence evidently provides him with the power to escape, and his engineering of a Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure is likely for the same reason.
- Empty Quiver: Not with actual nuclear weapons (this being a children show in a magical world with Schizo Tech) but Discord's theft of the Elements of Harmony otherwise has parallels to this trope. They're incredibly powerful magical weapons and are used as Equestria's greatest line of defense. Celestia discovering they've been stolen legitimately shocks and scares her.
- Establishing Character Moment: The Mane cast each gets one in the first scene to refresh everyone of their personalities. Discord also gets one saying there's no fun in making sense.
- Et Tu, Brute?: From the corrupted True Companions' twisted point of view, they believed that they were betrayed by their friends when in reality, they were brainwashed by Discord into doing so. In general, Twilight herself gets this whenever she finds her friends, one by one, acting different from themselves.
- Evil Laugh: Discord has a great one.
- Evil Plan: Discord wants to return Equestria to the days of his rule: eternal chaos.
- The Eyes Have It: Discord first introduces himself to the ponies by manifesting himself as part of the stained-glass windows in Celestia's castle.
- Exact Words: Discord challenges the Mane Six to play his game. All of them has to play in the maze or he wins by default. He secures his victory by convincing Rainbow Dash to leave.
- Failed a Spot Check: This almost ends up being Twilight's undoing, as she is so focused on trying to find the elements and defeat Discord, she fails to notice her friends' personalities' radically shifting when finding them in the maze, assuming it to just be stress on their part. Twilight also somehow doesn't seem to notice the desaturation in her friends' coat and mane colors, which are a dead giveaway they're more than just stressed out.
- Failsafe Failure: Borders on Lampshade Hanging. Twilight learns a "failsafe spell", which she believes will counter the wacky weather plaguing Ponyville. It fails. She says, "My failsafe spell... failed!"
- Fallen Hero: What the discorded mane ponies become after Discord brainwashes them.
- Flaw Exploitation: How Discord breaks the Mane Cast and turns them against their Elements of Harmony.
- The scene where Celestia fills out Discord's backstory drops quite a few hints that he's far more evil and dangerous than he seems. Including Celestia being nervous and taking Discord dead seriously. There's also the fact that when she discusses what it was like under Discord, the screams of suffering ponies can be heard in the background...
- For those careful listeners:Rainbow Dash: I'll always be loyal to the princess!
Discord: We'll see about that...
- When it rains chocolate milk on Ponyville, Rainbow Dash tells Applejack that it is simultaneously raining cola on Cloudsdale, but not to worry because she will help her friends before going off to help her town. This mirrors the choice she is given later on.
- When Discord first appears in Canterlot Tower, and drifts into the next window, he is leaning on one of the images. He says "It's been quite lonely imprisoned in stone, but you wouldn't know that, would you, because I don't turn ponies into stone!" and then he knocks on the image he's leaning on. Specifically, her head. The image is a picture of Fluttershy. She's the only one of the mane six who Discord can't corrupt with his words alone. Instead, he has to use magic to brute-force brainwash her.
- For the Evulz: Fluttershy’s corruption showed he could have corrupted any of them at will. So it’s implied the reason why he did the traps was just because he likes messing with them.
- From Bad to Worse: How much worse can Twilight's mission get? First Discord returns, then he steals the Elements of Harmony then he divides the Mane Cast then he corrupts five of them....
- Genre Blindness: Twilight has a case of this, when she doesn’t notice anything off when her friends become the opposite of their elements (and they become a lot greyer) when she encounters them in the maze.
- The GM Is a Cheating Bastard: Discord stacks the deck heavily against the mane six by taking away their magic and wings, separates them the instant they step into the forest maze, and proceeds to turn all of them against each other through hypnosis. He likes to soften them up before using it, but when it doesn't work with Fluttershy, he just zaps her with magic. To top it off, he gives Rainbow Dash her wings back, then uses her as an excuse to end the game prematurely.
- Gold Fever: Rarity's love of gems is used by Discord to break her.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Somewhat more benign than most examples, but still counts. Discord breaks Applejack by showing her a vision of the Mane Six dismissing each other as friends. The idea is so upsetting that Discord is able to convince her that lying is better.
- Gratuitous Italian: Discord's angry yell of "Arrivederci!" after trying and failing to break Fluttershy's (almost) permanently sunny disposition.
- Heart Light: The first sign that the Draconequus statue is coming alive. Except it's not light so much as pulsating darkness.
- Hedge Maze: Where most of the episode takes place.
- Hope Spot: Downplayed twice in the maze. Rarity snaps out of it when Discord's trying to mess up her mind, but after a few seconds of fighting it, she falls for his trap; Fluttershy can resist him, but this being Discord, he just magically brainwashes her anyway. Played straight in the library, when Twilight finds the Elements, and it looks as if she can lead her friends to victory, only to realize no, they were too far gone and Discord still wins. Luckily, she later finds another way.
- Hypnotize the Captive: With the exception of Twilight, Discord hypnotizes each of the mane characters into behaving the opposite of what element they represent. Twilight isn't affected until the next part, only she wasn't hypnotized.
- Idiot Ball: Twilight, throughout much of this episode on the next. Despite her friends not acting like themselves at all, she doesn't appear to suspect that her friends are under Discord's spell in any way; she acts like they've just suddenly decided to become Jerkasses for no apparent reason. She does, at least originally, cite "stress" as the reason she thinks they're acting up, and tries to tell herself that AJ's lies are just part of her imagination.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Discord is unsuccessful in his attempts to break Fluttershy, forcing him to simply hypnotize her the old-fashioned way.
- Insult Backfire: Discord tries to make it seem like Fluttershy's friends are insulting her, but she interprets it as them trying to help her improve herself.
- Irony: Discord points out one rule of the maze is "no wings, no magic". Ironically, he brainwashes Rainbow into getting her wings back so she can leave the game and her friends, causing them to lose.
- Jaw Drop: The mane cast and Celestia when it's revealed that the Elements of Harmony have been stolen.
- Just Toying with Them: Without the Elements, the ponies wouldn't stand a chance against Discord if he didn't choose to play the maze game with them... nor do they, as it turns out, even then, as he doesn't follow any rules himself.
- Knighting: Princess Celestia does this to Twilight just before everypony goes off to retrieve the Elements from Discord. There's no ceremony involved, just the shoulder-to-shoulder motion with her horn as a stand-in for a sword.
- Large Ham: Discord doesn't settle for a ominous dark clouds; he needs cotton candy clouds that rain chocolate milk. He deliberately invokes dramatic lightning to accompany his Evil Gloating.
- Laughably Evil: Combined with his exceptional competence and malice, Discord also has the sharpest wit and zaniest moments of the Rogues Gallery.
- Lecture as Exposition: Cheerilee in her role as teacher explaining just what "discord" means, which, while a vocabulary question, is highly relevant for the plot. The Cutie Mark Crusaders are put to do even more of the exposition for the audience by coming up with more common related words and acting discordantly, but Cheerilee is the one to point this out, too.
- Mass Hypnosis: Everyone (except Twilight, Spike and probably Princess Celestia), courtesy of Discord.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!": The looks on everypony's faces◊ (even Pinkie, though it doesn't last long) when the chest containing the Elements turns out to be empty. The look of abject horror on the normally placid-faced Celestia really underscores how bad this is.
- Meekness is Weakness: Discord tries to use this trope to hypnotize and corrupt Fluttershy, but it doesn't work.
- Metaphorically True: When Applejack asks the pool that shows the truth what will come of their mission, she sees the Mane Six's friendship ending. What was true... as far as it goes.
- Mind-Control Eyes: Anyone in the process of coming under Discord's influence gets these, as extra insurance in his More than Mind Control act.
- Mind Screw: Given Discord's both reality- and mind-warping abilities, you've got to wonder whether all things that led to the Mane Five's brainwashing actually happened or was it all just a hallucination. The most glaring example is Applejack's corruption. When we see things from her point of view, it appears that she is in a vast grove — stretching all the way to horizon — full of apple trees. Once Twilight finds her, though, it is revealed that she is standing in the middle of a small square, facing the hedge wall. Did Discord rearrange the surroundings that quickly... or was it all just happening in Applejack's head?
- Mood Whiplash:
- Discord goes from his evil laugh to making fun of the ponies for their reaction.
- Like the pilot episode, the cliffhanger suddenly cuts to the upbeat end credits.
- Discord in general is a good use of this trope. Part of the thing that makes him brainwashing the mane cast till they break so horrific is you never see it coming considering how silly he looked and acted when we first see him...
- The end of the episode. Discord has beaten the Mane Six, brainwashed most of them into betraying their elements and still has the Elements of Harmony in his possession. During his final gloat, he opens an inverted umbrella that meows before a lightning strike.
- More than Mind Control: Discord on Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash, though he uses more magic than is usual for this trope. He tries it on Fluttershy, but it doesn't affect her (at first, anyway), much to his frustration.
- Mythology Gag: By taking away their wings, Discord effectively turned Rainbow Dash into her G3 incarnation and Fluttershy into Posey.note
- Never Split the Party: Twilight declares (more than once, in fact) that they're at their strongest when they stick together. So of course they get split up the literal second they step foot in the maze.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The preview footage released made it seem like Discord would be powerful, but more silly and lighthearted, which disappointed a few people expecting a more Darker and Edgier villain. As such, many were taken off-guard by how sadistic and cruel he really is.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Twilight's immediate assumption that the solution to Discord's riddle is that he's hidden the Elements in the maze leads the Mane Six on an entirely fruitless search.
- Also at the beginning of the episode, the Cutie Mark Crusaders arguing pretty much made them responsible for causing Discord to get freed from his stone prison.
- No-Sell: Discord's corruption fails to work on Fluttershy, prompting him to control her by force.
- Not Himself: After each mare gets corrupted, Twilight meets up with them and is shocked they're acting the opposite of the respective Elements they represent.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: It's explained that 1,000 years ago, Celestia and Luna rose up against Discord's reign of chaos and terror and brought it to a halt by turning him to stone with the Elements Of Harmony. We don't know much about what happened, but it certainly sounds awesome; the stained glass resembles a Yin-Yang Bomb.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Princess Celestia paces nervously and acts grave. Then she's surprised and shocked. Then she has no patience for fooling around with Discord. Until now, we'd never seen her any other way than calmly in control of the situation, with an appreciation for mischief and idiosyncrasy to boot. The simple fact she takes Discord so seriously and is so unnerved by his reappearance is the first sign he's a lot more dangerous than he appears to be.
- Oh, Crap!: Twilight, the only one who was not mind-controlled, is clearly horrified and shocked when Discord announces the ponies lost the challenge because Rainbow flew away, thus letting him spread his chaos.
- Order Versus Chaos: In a world where Harmony is evidently the most powerful force for good, it's not surprising Discord would be embodied with similar strength.
- Palette Swap: The Keepers of the Grove of Truth are physically perfect copies of each other, their only differences being that one is dark red, one is orange-red, and one is green.
- Paper People: The very first appearance of Discord is under a stylized, two-dimensional shape moving over stained-glass windows.
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: "Victoryful".
- Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Happens by the episode's end, courtesy of Discord.
- Polite Villains, Rude Heroes: Rainbow Dash especially, but also Rarity and even Princess Celestia, are impatient, hostile and insulting to the Faux Affably Evil Discord.
- Popcorn on the Cob: Applejack's corn field.
- The Power of Hate: The Cutie Mark Crusaders arguing before Statue Discord is what causes him to awaken moments later.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Discord might have no issues tormenting ponies with his mind games and insane challenges, but turning them to stone is right out. Then again, Why would he want to use Taken for Granite on anybody? There's no fun and chaos in that!
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Pinkie's first line after becoming susceptible to Discord's corruption:Pinkie: "Happy"? I don't think so...
- Rage Quit: Discord's reaction to Fluttershy beating his mind games. Up until then (and afterwards), he treats it like a game, but he reacts by getting furious, brainwashing her, then leaving in a huff.
- Rhymes on a Dime:
- The Keepers of the Grove rhyme every sentence that they speak.
- Discord himself has a tendency to slip into rhyme when telling riddles.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: While Twilight is right to point out her friends are somehow not acting like their usual selves, she's wrong about why they're acting that way. She initially thinks the maze has gotten to them so much that they're doing it out of frustration, when in reality, they've been hypnotized by Discord.
- Sadistic Choice: How Discord gets to Rainbow Dash. He makes her choose between abandoning her friends or letting Cloudsdale be destroyed. No matter which she chooses, she goes against her Element because she's betraying something she cares about.
- Sanity Slippage: The corrupted Mane ponies spends the two-part episode having their misbehavior made worse every passing minute.
- Scenery Gorn: The spectacular city of Cloudsdale is spectacularly crumbled in Discord's vision for brainwashing Rainbow Dash.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
- Played for laughs when Pinkie's reaction to the Elements of Harmony being stolen is to go drink some more chocolate milk rain. She's back after the commercial break.
- Played for Drama when Rainbow Dash takes her wings back and leaves for Cloudsdale.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Discord had been imprisoned in a stone statue by Celestia and Luna in ancient times. The Cutie Mark Crusaders release him by creating discord (fighting) in front of it, giving him the power to break free from his weakened prison.
- Self-Deprecation: Taken to comedic lengths with Fluttershy.Discord: Well... it must be so upsetting to know how weak and helpless [your friends] think you are.
Fluttershy: Not at all. I am weak and helpless and I appreciate their understanding.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Invoked by Discord when he shows Applejack a vision of her friends breaking up and uses it to corrupt her. Everyone's corruption is, of course, posed to break their friendship as we move into the next episode. However, the vision wasn't a necessary component for it happening, and it was significantly false in detail.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: Not only does the ponies' quest in the labyrinth fail, the Elements were never in the labyrinth to begin with.
- Discord breaks free after being imprisoned in stone for centuries, very similar to Disney's Gargoyles.
- To Tay Zonday's "Chocolate Rain", of all things.
- The rabbits with long legs resemble Salvador Dalí's paintings of elephants.
- In a similar vein, when Rarity is wandering the maze, we see that it now defies gravity in a manner reminiscent of an Escher painting.
- Discord is basically a Darker and Edgier Q with a weird body, which makes sense as Q's actor is Discord's VA! Not only that, but Picard explicitly called Q "Next of kin to chaos" in Q Who.
- Discord's status as a "silly" acting villain with reality-warping abilities whose method of choice is psychologically attacking the heroines and breaking apart the bond they share may be inspired by Him from The Powerpuff Girls (which Lauren Faust worked on as well). He even appears as butterflies with his own face on them to tempt the yellow-furred Nice Girl of the group, something Him did with Bubbles in "All Chalked Up".
- A fruit-based monster that manipulates The Lancer into turning against their teammates using an illusion projected on a lake... now where have I seen that before?
- Skewed Priorities: Pinkie doesn't care about the prospect of eternal chaos, as long as she gets chocolate milk rain.
- Small Role, Big Impact: The Cutie Mark Crusaders only appear in the prologue, but their arguing is what results in Discord being released, kicking off the plot of the show.
- Society-on-Edge Episode: This two-parter involved turning Equestria into a World of Chaos.
- Speak in Unison: Discord briefly holds a conversation in the form of a trio of butterflies.
- Sugar Apocalypse: Discord shows Rainbow Dash a vision of her hometown of Cloudsdale — the beautiful city of clouds and rainbows — crumbling out of the sky.
- Surprisingly Creepy Moment: Discord is a silly-looking Mix-and-Match Critter. The episode starts with chocolate rain from cotton candy clouds. It ends with Darkest Hour.
- Title Drop:
- Ms. Cheerilee calls the Cutie Mark Crusaders "My Little Ponies".
- Celestria also calls the Mane Six "My Little Ponies" when she wishes them luck looking for the Elements in the maze.
- Discord also calls Mane Six "My Little Ponies" when he "wins".
- Took a Level in Jerkass: The personalities for all of Twilight's friends are flipped thanks to Discord's influence while in the maze. This is especially true for the optimistic Pinkie Pie and the kind and shy Fluttershy. However, they all share a level of bitterness, especially in the next episode.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The Cutie Mark Crusaders' arguing is what indirectly leads to Discord being released.
- Villain Has a Point: Discord is actually right about his explanation to Pinkie Pie: Regardless of whether one is laughing with somepony or laughing at somepony, laughter is laughter.
- Virtue Is Weakness: Discord manages to emotionally break the mane six (right before hypnotizing all but Twilight) by explaining how the virtues represented by the elements of harmony are weaknesses. Specifically, honesty causes others to know things you don't want them to know, laughter hurts the feelings of the one being laughed at, kindness opens yourself up to being abused by others (Discord had to cheat since Fluttershy wasn't giving him the responses he wanted), generosity prevents you from getting the things that you want, loyalty means nothing when you can't be in two places at once and have to choose between two loyalties, and in general harmony is pointless as its own elements lead it to collapse on itself.
- Visual Pun: More than one:
- Applejack is, quite literally, tempted by apples of Discord.
- The buffaloes appearing from time to time are doing the "Shuffle Off to Buffalo".
- We Used to Be Friends: The conversation between the Mane Six themselves in their friendship's dark future that Discord shows to Applejack sums this up. Also see Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.Pond Rainbow Dash: I hope I never see you again!
Pond Fluttershy: Me too!
Pond Pinkie Pie: Fine!
Pond Rarity: Fine!
Pond Twilight Sparkle: It's settled, then.
- Wham Line: The line that showed us once and for all that Discord meant business: "Sometimes a lie is easier to take."
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Discord's Break Them by Talking to Fluttershy (Element of Kindness) calls her out as the weakest and most helpless of the ponies. He's been confined to a pedestal in a sculpture garden, so he probably didn't see Fluttershy's spotlight moments when she's shown that Heart Is an Awesome Power.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Discord delivers one to Celestia. He never turned anyone into stone. Or so he says.
- What You Are in the Dark: This is what happens to the mane cast themselves when they were brainwashed by Discord. See Became Their Own Antithesis.
- World-Healing Wave: Twilight tries one, but it fails horribly; see Failsafe Failure above.
- Xanatos Gambit: Discord's Sadistic Choice to Rainbow Dash. The purpose of all his mind tricks was to get them to betray their Element Of Harmony, Rainbow Dash's being Loyalty. By forcing her to choose between two conflicting loyalties, Rainbow Dash is left with no choice but to betray something she truly cares about.
- You Have No Chance to Survive: Discord corrupts Rainbow Dash with the Sadistic Choice of either taking her wings and leaving the game (to save her Doomed Hometown) or "carry on aimlessly wandering this maze. Your choice."