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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S7 E15 "Triple Threat"

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"Is this another part of pony friendship? Telling each other what you learned all the time?"
Ember

Written by Josh Hamilton
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As one of Spike's first acts as the new Friendship Ambassador to the Dragons, he has invited Dragon Lord Ember to Ponyville to get to know the way of ponies more, and the rest of the town is ready to help out by preparing for her arrival. Spike explains to Twilight Sparkle and Starlight Glimmer how important it is to appease dragons, so he wants to make sure he makes a good impression for her. However, just then, Changeling leader Thorax arrives, as Spike had invited him to come to Ponyville the same day. Spike starts panicking, fearing that Ember and Thorax will not get along and if they should meet, it will lead to war between the two species and potentially devastate all of Equestria.

As Ember is seen in the distance, Twilight offers to take Thorax to see her castle, allowing Spike and Starlight to greet Ember. Though happy to meet Spike again, she's also interested in meeting Twilight too (after mistaking Starlight for Twilight), and Spike is forced to take her to the castle, but keeps her from Thorax by offering her a friendship banquet. This gives Spike enough distraction to meet up with Twilight, who has also been trying to keep Thorax busy in the castle. Suddenly, Spike's scales start glowing, and to his and Twilight's surprise, the cutie map shows that Spike is being called to a friendship problem, right here in Ponyville. Twilight and Starlight agree to help to keep Ember and Thorax apart while Spike goes to try to figure out the problem.

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While Spike struggles to find a friendship problem, separately Twilight and Starlight take Ember and Thorax back to town. Eventually, their paths all cross, and when Ember yells at Spike when asking him where he's been, Thorax takes that as a threat against his friend and transforms into a bear; Ember similarly seems Thorax's change as a threat and also vows to protect Spike. They realize they both care for Spike, and then recognize what Spike has been doing for the last few hours, and they separately fly off in anger over Spike and his actions, leading Spike to think he's started the war he envisioned.

At a lake near town, Ember spots Thorax contemplating. The two start talking and they both learn they are struggling under their new roles as leaders of their species. Thorax has a rogue changeling group that wants to feed off others and has difficulty controlling them, and Ember's rule makes her think other dragons cower in fear. They offer each other advice: Thorax should be more assertive, while Ember needs to consider the feelings of others more, and they both realize they can apply these to Spike. Back in town, they approach Spike and tell him that what he did was wrong, but they forgive him since their own meeting has helped them greatly. As Thorax takes them into a group hug, Spike's scales start glowing again, and Starlight surmises that he solved the friendship problem — the one that he actually created for himself. Later, Spike announces that today serves to honor both the ponies' ties with the dragons and changelings, as the celebrations resume.

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Tropes:

  • Adorkable: Thorax manages to be this in several moments, gleefully greeting Spike, being entranced by the Flame of Friendship, and making himself comfortable in one of Twilight's chairs.
  • An Aesop:
    • Don't assume your differently-tempered friends can't handle each other. Good people can get along despite their differences.
    • When you accidentally mess up your schedule, be honest about it instead of pulling a Two-Timer Date.
  • Appeal to Tradition: According to Thorax, the changeling faction who still feed on love defend their actions by saying its how their species have been doing things for hundreds of years.
  • Ascended Fridge Horror: The idea that there would be some changelings that wouldn't be so eager to revert to Thorax's new policy on love was already speculated on after "To Where and Back Again", especially since the changelings that were planted in place of all of the more important ponies weren't around for Chrysalis's defeat, and it turns out that this is the exact problem that Thorax wants to talk to Spike about.
  • "Ass" in Ambassador: Spike tries to keep Thorax and Ember happy by pawning them off on his friends and ends up ditching them several times, making matters worse. His breakdown that interrupts Thorax and Ember about to come to blows says it all:
    Spike: My title of Equestria's Friendship Ambassador is a lie!
  • Bears Are Bad News: Thorax transforming into a bear to fight Ember, believing that she has come to harm Spike.
  • "Be Quiet!" Nudge: When Starlight tries to tell Ember that the crystal recipients she's eating are not supposed to be food, Spike nudges her to stay silent and not be contrary with the Dragon Lord.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Thorax might seem a little meek, but he is in no way intimidated by Ember. Indeed he's quite willing to fight her to protect Spike.
    Twilight: He's really gentle...
    Thorax: NOT ANYMORE!
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Thorax and Ember point out the advantages and flaws of each other's leadership style; Thorax works actively at fixing his people's problems, but not everyone respects his Nice Guy approach, while Ember's authority is unchallenged, but she doesn't know how to approach her people's problems that cause the arguments and problems in the first place.
  • Competition Freak: The dragons are stated to be this, usually solving their problems through feats of strength and "fire duels".
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The trumpeter ponies who announce Ember's arrival in Ponyville are the same ones who played when Cadance (actually Chrysalis in disguise) walked down the aisle in "A Canterlot Wedding – Part 2".
    • Ember is still uncomfortable about being hugged or shaking hoof/claw with other people, as seen in "Gauntlet of Fire". She's obviously making efforts about this to be polite, though.
    • Starlight quickly takes to Ember, much like Twilight's Imagine Spot during "Celestial Advice" where she sent Starlight to the Dragon Lands, and the two became immediate friends.
    • Some of the ponies appear to avoid Spike when he frantically looks around town for a friendship problem to solve. Evidently, they still remember what happened the last time.
    • After what happened the last time (in "Party Pooped"), actual pony food is served instead of trying to imitate the visitor's diets (not that they knew any other food aside from gems anyway). Too bad the lunch is being hosted in a gem-encrusted castle with gem-based cutlery and bowls.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Ember, Thorax, and eventually Spike realize they all could have avoided misunderstandings and solved each others' problems a lot sooner if Spike had simply introduced the two rulers to each other rather than trying to keep them from meeting.
  • Delayed Reaction: Ember angrily tells Thorax-in-bear-form to back away, and that she's not about to let him harm Spike... just before realizing that Thorax said the exact same thing to her.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Spike's welcome speech to Ember.
    Spike: Dragon Lord Ember, as the official Equestrian friendship ambassador for the Dragon Lands and for Ponyville, I, Spike of Ponyville, welcome you to... uh, Ponyville. I gotta work on my official speech...
  • Disapproving Look: When Twilight is more excited than anything by the map calling out Spike for a friendship problem, Spike gives a pointed Aside Glance to express his annoyance.
    Twilight Sparkle: Not a good time? I get it.
  • Eat Dirt, Cheap: Just like Spike and other dragons, Ember can eat gemstones for nourishment. She naturally assumes the crystal walls of Twilight's castle are food, and proceeds to eat a substantial portion of the castle's dining room.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Ember draws incorrect conclusions from what she sees despite her facts being right. Since Twilight's castle is made of gems, and dragons love eating gems, Ember concludes that covering the walls with things your friends like to eat is a friendly thing to do.
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: Ember sneezes out a gout of fire — for the third time in the episode — and melts an ice sculpture made of her, Twilight, and Thorax in the process. She remarks that more things ought to be made of rocks and then she, Spike, and Thorax all laugh as the episode cuts to black.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: A subdued example, but after Thorax asks how dragons on the losing end of fire duels/feats of strength feel, Ember imagines they feel humiliated and so ashamed that they want to bury themselves under a rock... before she realizes how sad and alone her subjects probably feel.
  • Fantastic Racism: Spike's perceived fear is the existence of animosity between dragons and changelings that is strong enough to result in violent confrontations between the two species. Somewhat justified by Spike's unpleasant experiences with Garble's anti-pony attitude.
  • "Fawlty Towers" Plot: Spike keeps on lying to Ember and Thorax in order to mask the other's appearance in Ponyville, even getting Twilight and Starlight to help him. It all spectacularly collapses when Ember and Thorax are just about to go for each other's throats thanks to him before he intervenes with a Big "NO!" that stops them before the first exchange of blows.
  • Fish out of Water: Ember has a hard time adjusting to pony society due to the aggressive upbringing of dragon society, often scaring away ponies with a mighty roar and blasts of fire.
  • Flat "What": When Spike says he thought Ember and Thorax were going to fight because he accidentally invited them both on the same day they both reply, "So what?"
  • Foreshadowing:
  • Furry Reminder: A subtle example with Thorax, who becomes almost hypnotically glee-struck with a large decorative flame on display in Ponyville. Thorax is clearly meant to be part-insect, and insects have a tendency to be attracted to bright lights and flames. Fortunately, he doesn't fly right into it, and maintains enough presence of mind to eventually turn his attention away.
  • Go Through Me: Thorax and Ember both try to fight each other under the belief that they are protecting Spike. They stop though once they realize that they are both trying to defend Spike.
  • Ground-Shattering Landing: Ember may be small for a dragon, but she does make a Big Entrance.
  • Group Hug: Thorax, Ember and Spike do this when they reconcile near the end of the episode.
  • Hate at First Sight: This is one of Spike's underlying fears of what might happen between Ember and Thorax. While the two do fight when it appears that Spike is being threatened by each other, when they actually get to talk to each other, they bond rather quickly.
  • Head Desk: Thorax slams his face on the table when Spike leaves suddenly without giving any advice to his problem.
  • High-Pressure Emotion: When Ember tries to express how mad she feels to Spike, she gets very purplish in the face and briefly makes a teakettle sound.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Twilight tells Spike that he's "getting [himself] worked up for no reason" when he worries about the decorations for Ember's visit. Twilight is really the last pony to lecture someone about that.
    • Ember saying that she can say she's bad at friendships, but Spike can't say that about her.
    • When Ember remarks on the similarities between Twilight and Starlight, they both respond with an angry "What?!" and the exact same body language.
  • I Am X, Son of Y: Ember introduces herself to the Ponyville townsponies as "Ember, Daughter of Torch".
  • Imagine Spot: Spike lets his imagination run wild and pictures the changeling leader and Dragon Lord butting heads, leading to a war between the two species laying waste all over Equestria.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Ember keeps mistaking Twilight for Starlight and vice versa, claiming they look the same. Both of them are obviously peeved by this, and Ember's stubbornness leads to digging herself deeper by (poorly) explaining why they look alike.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Spike believing that should Ember and Thorax meet, this will lead to a war between dragons and changelings with Equestria caught in the middle, all because Ember and Thorax are different and he fears they wouldn't get along. He even has an Imagine Spot where they and their armies clash and apparently destroy the planet.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Spike is afraid that Ember and Thorax probably never want to see him again after they storm off in anger. As soon as he says this, they both land in front of him to talk about what he did and give him a good What the Hell, Hero? talking-to.
  • Irony: Spike ends up being called to a friendship problem... that he himself created by ignoring his friends' leadership concerns in lieu of his paranoia and fear of a potential changeling-dragon war starting between them.
  • Keet: Thorax shows shades of this, especially when he first arrives in Ponyville and is ever-so-excited about the decorations and the flame-thingy. It is particularly noticeable compared to his reserved, nervous demeanor in his previous appearances.
  • Large Ham Title: Ember introduces herself to the ponies by shouting, "Hello! I am Ember, Daughter of Torch, Winner of the Gauntlet of Fire and Lord of All Dragons!"
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Ember has difficulty telling Twilight Sparkle and Starlight Glimmer apart, due to the two being so similar. It devolves into a petty argument between the three, not unlike that of fans who argue with others who get names and characters wrong. She also lampshades the recurring trends of pony names involving "lights and shiny things."
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Thorax is a nice guy and rather timid when it comes to leadership, but if you threaten his friends he'll turn into a bear and fight you.
  • Loud Gulp: Spike gulps when both Ember and Thorax confront him at the same time about his poor handling of them earlier.
  • Made Myself Sad: When Thorax asks Ember to explain how a defeated dragon feels, she quickly goes from gloating to regret as she realizes how sad they must be.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Ember, the tomboy Action Girl, makes friends with Thorax, the sensitive Nice Guy who literally feeds on love.
  • Might Makes Right: The dragons solve their disputes through physical competition. Thorax points out to Ember that this way of doing things could simply end up dividing them.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Thorax reveals that there are renegade changelings who don't want adopt the new changeling ways and want to continue impersonating others and feeding off love.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Spike's attempts to keep Ember and Thorax separated and still spend time with both of them has them feel like they are being ignored and later angers them when they discover that Spike wanted to keep them from meeting because he thought so little of them. As Starlight points out, the friendship problem that Spike had to fix was caused by him in the first place because of his efforts to keep Ember and Thorax separated.
  • No Social Skills: Ember is completely out of her element when trying to make friends with ponies, seeing nothing wrong with saying that Twilight and Starlight look the same, and making false assumptions about how ponies interact with their friends.
  • Obsessed Are the Listmakers: Spike, with his over-the-top preparations for Ember's arrival, takes after Twilight here, as Starlight lampshades.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: On the lookout for the friendship problem, Spike suddenly moves to several spots, including a tree, a bush, and a crate of apples, all of this in the same shot.
  • Oh, Crap!: Spike, after realizing he made a scheduling error that has Ember and Thorax visiting Ponyville on the same day.
  • Opposites Attract: When all the misunderstandings are cleared, the aggressive Ember and the passive Thorax become friends rather quickly, bonding over their issues as leaders of the dragons and changelings respectively and giving each other advice on how to deal with them.
  • Overly Long Fighting Animation: Ember and Thorax are standing face-to-face, yet the animation leading up to their potential fight has them charging at each other at high speed for several seconds across an ad break before Spike interrupts with a Big "NO!" as he breaks down in hysteria over his nightmare coming true.
  • Overly Nervous Flop Sweat:
    • Spike is sweating abundantly throughout the episode, either from his feverish imagination picturing the worse, or from speaking to Thorax and Ember while trying to keep up the masquerade. Don't ask how/if a dragon can sweat at all, that's not the point here.
    • Ember has a brief spate of sweat the first time she tries to talk about her feelings.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Ember, a dragon, is incapable of telling Twilight and Starlight apart on the basis that they're both purple ponies with purple hair and sparkly cutie marks. The fact that both their names have "light" in them doesn't help either.
  • Plot Hole: After Thorax and Ember first meet each other, once Ember takes off, Thorax refers to her by name despite her name never being spoken in his presence.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Thorax and Ember only fight each other due to a lack of communication leading them to assume the other is a threat to Spike.
  • Primal Chest-Pound: When Thorax turns into a large bear, he immediately lets out a Mighty Roar and pounds his chest — despite this intimidation gesture being more associated with gorillas than bears. Of course, he's neither.
  • Protocol Peril: Ember stumbles into a few cultural misunderstandings when visiting Ponyville.
    • First, when unicorn trumpeters welcome her with a fanfare, she covers her ears in pain and gets into a hostile stance in response, clearly believing she's under attack, until Spike distracts her.
    • Later, as part of a bombastic dragon-style greeting, she breathes fire toward the sky, which scares all the ponies around. She says that usually, when she does this, other dragons are eager to meet her.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Even if a malevolent regime is replaced by a much nicer, benevolent one, there will always be some who liked the old ways better, either because they actually prospered under the old regime, or they're simply resistant to changes.
    • Being a Nice Guy doesn't automatically make you a good leader, and you'll sometimes need to assert your authority when someone disrespects your ideas and projects.
    • While the dragons' land is arid and not as comfortable as the ponies', it's much safer for everyone, as the dragons tend to burn things, even by accident, so they need to live in a rocky, non-flammable environment.
    • People will notice (and feel insulted) pretty quickly if you keep ditching them for flimsy reasons.
  • Reflective Eyes: Thorax-in-bear-form and Ember charging at each other are reflected into Spike's eyes, on each side of his slit pupils.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Thorax never mentioned having any family, let alone a sibling, until now. Possibly justified, since his species lives in a hive where all eggs are apparently laid by the queen. Why mention one brother when you have hundreds?
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: Thorax tells Spike of a group of changelings who still feed by stealing love, and refuse to recognize his authority.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Spike assumes Lyra and Bon Bon's argument, and later, two ponies arguing at a diner, are the friendship problems he's meant to fix. While he's obviously wrong on this assumption, he does the right thing by helping these ponies.
  • Running Gag:
    • Ember sneezing at the most inopportune moments. She mutters that she must be "allergic to feelings".
    • Ember confusing Starlight Glimmer with Twilight Sparkle. It finally turns into a petty argument.
    • Ember showing discomfort and/or uncertainty from being hugged.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: One of the pony trumpeters runs for it when Ember mistakes their welcoming fanfare for an attack.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Spike tried to keep Ember and Thorax separated because he was afraid they wouldn’t get along and would fight. But his actions cause the two of them to nearly fight when they each think the other is threatening Spike. Luckily they stop right before they actually begin fighting.
  • Ship Tease: Thorax and Ember look like they're bonding a little too closely at the lake.
  • Shout-Out: Possibly unintentional, but when Spike gets called by the Cutie Map, his spines light up rather like those of a certain famous monster.
  • Sneeze of Doom: Ember's sneezes trigger uncontrolled fire-breathing, which can be somewhat destructive. It doesn't help that she claims to have an allergy to feelings. At the end of the episode, such a sneeze melts the celebratory ice statues. She comments they should make more things out of rocks.
  • Split Screen: Used to show both Ember and Thorax in bear form charging at each other. Played with, as the split is preserved when they reflect into Spike's eyes, around his slit pupils.
  • Staggered Zoom: When Spike is called by the Cutie Map for a friendship problem, just before the fade to black of the commercial pause, there is a series of zooms upon Spike's panicked face, along with the stereotypical, dramatic Scare Chord.
  • Three-Point Landing: Ember's arrival in Ponyville is marked by a dynamic landing on two legs and a claw with enough force to put several cracks in the road. She later does a similar landing to demonstrate how she enjoys "crushing another dragon in competition".
  • Truth in Television: Politicians, especially heads of state, are commonly kept from meeting each other by their handlers due to their disparate personalities. If they do manage to meet, they often find that they have a lot to learn about leadership from each other.
  • Tsundere: Ember continues to show her dual nature, particular when she's talking of her difficulties in ruling the dragons with Thorax at the lake, and trying to admit her anger at Spike following that.
  • Two-Timer Date: Spike has to pull double-time just to make sure Ember and Thorax don't get visual confirmation of the other's presence, let alone meet each other in person. Unfortunately, the scheme ends up unraveling when several awkward situations and a lack of foresight puts them in the same place.
  • Wham Shot: Spike, a dragon with decidedly no Cutie Mark, getting called by the Cutie Map. Who saw that coming?
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Spike gets chewed out by both Ember and Thorax for failing to be honest with them, especially since they felt that he made assumptions about their personalities (Ember's aggressiveness and Thorax's passiveness), which were the very things they sought Spike's help for.
  • Wrong Assumption:
    • Spike's concerns that Ember and Thorax would be unfriendly to each other turned out to be unfounded in the end as they bond over their insecurities and help each other solve them before confronting Spike and giving him a good reprimand for his earlier behavior.
    • In a more comedic example, Ember assumes that friends put your favorite food on walls for you to eat, since Twilight's castle is made out of gems. She later uses this flawed assumption when trying to make friends, smearing a muffin on a wall for Derpy to eat, thinking it is a friendly thing to do.

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