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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S7 E16 "Campfire Tales"

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I guess "The Campfire Song Song" won't do.

Written by Barry Safchik & Michael Platt
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Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash are taking the Cutie Mark Crusaders on their annual Big Sister-Little Sister camping trip to Winsome Falls. As they are setting up tents for the night and prepare to partake in a picnic, they are interrupted by a swarm of fly-ders, which quickly cover their campsite in webbing and bite the ponies. They all quickly take shelter in the nearby cave — though Scootaloo needs a bit of coaxing to get over her fears of it from last time.

As they settle in the cave, hoping the fly-der swarm will pass, Applejack suggests they tell stories to pass the time, and offers one she has told to Apple Bloom before, the legend of Rockhoof. In a Nordic village, Rockhoof was a scrawny stallion that wanted to join the Mighty Helm, warriors that protected the land, but he was deemed too weak to join. One day, the volcano near their village erupted, with the lava threatening to wipe it away. While the Mighty Helm decided it would be best to evacuate the village, the villagers didn't want to leave. Rockhoof decided to try to dig a trench to divert the lava. While doing so, he was filled with magic, causing him to grow larger and stronger. He was able to complete the trench in time to save the village, and for his valor, he was brought into the Mighty Helm.

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Rarity offers her own favorite tale of a legend from the past, Mistmane. As the most talented and beautiful unicorn from her Asian-style village, she was invited to train further at a nearby magic school, much to the jealousy of her friend, Sable Spirit. When Mistmane returned to her village many years later, she found it nearly devastated, as Sable had made herself Empress and robbed her home of its beauty after a spell to turn herself beautiful made her hideous instead. Still filled with bitterness, Sable attacked Mistmane, who was able to fight back and contain Sable. Mistmane sacrificed her beauty to rejuvenate the entire village and Sable as well, inspiring Sable to change her ways. Afterwards, Mistmane left to spread the beauty of nature across Equestria.

In the interim, the fly-der swarm has started to invade the cave, and Rainbow Dash causes a cave-in to block the entrance. She then goes on to tell her favorite legend, Flash Magnus, who was a cadet in the Cloudsdale Royal Legion led by Captain Ironhead. On one mission, Flash's squadron had to cross the Dragon Lands to get home, but encountered the pair of dragons that lived there. The dragons captured two of the squad, and Ironhead considered leaving them behind. Flash instead had a plan to distract the dragons long enough for Ironhead and the others to rescue the two. Ironhead, impressed with the plan, gave Flash a special shield to help avert the dragon's fiery breath. As planned, Flash drew the dragons away, and the two other pegasi were rescued. To help save Flash, Ironhead and the others came together to build up a storm cloud that would shock the dragons and send them away. For his bravery, Ironhead allowed Flash to keep the shield.

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When the story concludes, Applejack no longer hears the fly-ders outside, but the rock cave-in is too thick to dig through. Rarity suggests trying the back way out of the cave, and then eventually come to a running river. They dive in and are soon spat out right at Winsome Falls, a new shortcut for them. The CMC, emboldened by the stories they heard, figure they can help make a perfect camp here, and the older ponies go chasing off after them to set it up.


Tropes:

  • An Aesop:
    • For Mistmane's segment, it's not the beauty of your physical appearance or of the things you surround yourself with that matters, but the beauty you put in the world through your actions and kindness.
    • Generally in the episode, adversity can lead to new adventures.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: At the beginning, Rainbow Dash tussles Scootaloo's mane while asserting her "big sister" role.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Rockhoof, before he got his strength granted to him, was often laughed at for being scrawny and weak amongst the Mighty Helm members and was given the task of latrine duty.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Zigzagged in Scootaloo's guide book, which implies that eating raw eggplant is fatal. While eggplants do contain solanine (common to all nightshades, including tomatoes and potatoes), the concentration in the fruit is low enough to be considered safe. The book's right about the Duranta berries that Rainbow Dash collects though.
  • Ash Face: After leading the two dragons into a huge storm-cloud, Flash Magnus is seen covered in ash from being struck by lightning.
  • Badass Bookworm: Mistmane is extremely intelligent and talented in magic, and these traits were further refined by spending years in "the finest magic school". These traits help her save her hometown.
  • Badass Crew: The Royal Legion. Effective, competent, brothers-in-arms warriors, especially when compared to the Royal Guard, that manage to create a thunderstorm to drive off two dragons. Put into perspective, every dragon besides Spike and Ember has been treated as a dire threat that no pony would want to fight head on.
  • Beauty to Beast: Sable Spirit attempts a spell that backfires on her turning her from a pretty young mare into an ugly old nag.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Mistmane was the most beautiful and gentlest unicorn on the land, and also a magical prodigy who could do pretty well in a duel and doesn't hesitate to stand up to an empress.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: The warriors of the Mighty Helm, including Rockhoof once he joins them, all seem to enjoy a good fight as much as they enjoy fellowship and a good, booming laugh.
  • Braids of Barbarism: One of the warriors of the Mighty Helm has a braided beard and another braid in his tail. Rockhoof gains a long braid in his mane after his sudden bulking up.
  • The Cameo:
    • Ambiguous example — one of the dragons in Flash Magnus's story strongly resembles a pre-Dragon Lord Torch. The long lifespans of dragons could justify his presence in a story set at least a millennium in the past (the story is set before the formation of the Wonderbolts, which we have previously learned were formed shortly after Nightmare Moon's banishment a thousand years ago).
    • The shadow dancer that Rarity makes is the ballerina doll from "A Royal Problem" as played by Twilight Sparkle (who otherwise doesn't appear).
  • Canon Welding: Not for the entire series, but the main characters featured — Mistmane, Rockhoof, and Flash Magnus — are part of the Legends of Magic comic series, displaying many of the same feats and characters as those arcs. In each of the comics, they reference the specific tales told in this episode.
  • Cast from Lifespan: Non-fatal version; the spell Mistmane cast to restore the beauty to her land came at the cost of her own youth and beauty, turning her into an aged mare.
  • Character Development:
    • Given a nod to In-Universe, as Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Rarity all comment on how much better the latter has gotten at "roughing it" (i.e. camping).
    • Rainbow Dash takes on the Cool Big Sis role for Scootaloo full throttle, and for once without some other event being involved; it's just these two hanging out with the other sisters.
    • Despite Scootaloo's freaking out being close to that of Season One's Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash is extremely patient and gentle with her even in the midst of her panicking, opting to soothe and comfort her rather than roll her eyes or be exasperated. She even lets Scootaloo sit on her belly as a raft when she gets scared of the cave's river.
    • Sweetie Belle now has the ability to generate a small force field or portion of one, which she does while trying to repel the initial fly-der attack.
  • Continuity Nod: This is the second sister camping trip since "Sleepless in Ponyville", with several references being made to the previous trip. Scootaloo even freaks out about having to hide from the fly-ders in "the scary cave" from that episode.
  • Convection Shmonvection:
    • Rockhoof shows no ill effects from overleaping his lava trench. However, it is a tall tale.
    • Despite Flash Magnus having a fireproof shield, that shouldn't change the fact the fire breathed by the dragons is very hot, yet he doesn't show any discomfort because of it. Justified by the shield being a legendary item that has its own name. It's likely a magical artifact.
  • Defensive "What?": After Rainbow Dash collapses the entrance of the cave so that the fly-ders can't enter, she gets a stare from Applejack. To which she answers defensively with "What? Now those bugs can't get in."
  • Deflector Shields: Sweetie Belle briefly uses (an admittedly small) one against the fly-ders. This is notable as only very powerful magic users have demonstrated this skill and it is easily the most advanced magic we've seen her use.
  • Determinator: Despite his initial lack of strength, and knowing full well that the odds were against him, Rockhoof put everything he had into digging the trench to save his village. His determination was rewarded by his sudden increase in strength.
  • Deus ex Machina: Rockhoof's story ends with him randomly transforming from a twig unable to lift a throwing axe to a burly workhorse able to single-hoofedly dig a trench in three seconds flat to redirect the lava. Applejack's narration has no explanation, just "something magical happened".
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • The IDW comic series My Little Pony: Legends of Magic already presented the figures of legend mentioned in the stories (Rockhoof, Mistmane, and Flash Magnus), published between one-two months before this episode. Those issues skip over the characters' best-known achievements, while the episode fills them in.
    • Mistmane is mentioned by Sunburst as the creator of a "Material Amity" spell in "The Crystalling, Part 2".
  • Exactly What I Aimed At: Mistmane's finishing blow against Sable Spirit seemingly misses and knocks over a flower pot in the background. Sable sneers at Mistmane and tries to renew her attack, only to be captured from behind by vines that explode from the pot that Mistmane hit.
  • Extreme Omnivore: The fly-ders consume everything edible in the campsite and then come after the ponies themselves, prompting Dash to trigger a cave-in to keep them at bay.
  • Eye Scream: Downplayed, but the first thing a fly-der does is web Sweetie Belle in one eye.
  • Fantastic Light Source: Rarity lights up her horn so the ponies can explore deeper in the dark cave.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Rarity's legend is a set in an East Asia-themed land, while Rainbow Dash's, like other stories about Pegasus culture, is influenced by Ancient Grome. Applejack's tale about Rockhoof is more of a Culture Chop Suey, with Viking aesthetics but taking place on an island with a volcano instead of the usual Grim Up North.
  • Fast Tunnelling: Rockhoof becomes strong enough to rapidly dig a trench and divert a lava flow into the sea.
  • Fertile Feet: Later in life, Mistmane causes flowers to grow from the ground wherever she walks. It's part of her mission of spreading beauty.
  • Foil: Sable Spirit and Mistmane. They have diametrically opposite views on beauty — Sable Spirit is obsessed with external, physical beauty and takes it from others by force, while Mistmane values the beauty spread by one's actions and dedicated her life to spreading it in the lives of others. Their transformations are also in contrast. Sable Spirit accidentally made herself look old and hideous while trying to make herself beautiful, and spent years of her life resenting this. By contrast, Mistmane willingly gave up her youth and beauty, and did so selflessly for the sake of others.
  • Framing Device: Hence the title. The episode actually consists of three legends told by Applejack, Rarity and Rainbow Dash around the campfire.
  • Funny Background Event: While the characters are hiding in the cave and Applejack is preparing to tell her story, Rarity can be seen grimacing in horror at Rainbow Dash's bitten and swollen face.
  • Furry Reminder: Apple Bloom uses her tail to try and chase the fly-ders, like real horses do with bugs. Later, both her and Rainbow Dash scratch their bite wounds with their rear hooves.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Sable Spirit became a tyrannical ruler who hoarded everything beautiful in her country, due to her bitterness over her transformation.
  • The Good Queen: Sable Spirit is said to have become a much better queen after her Heel–Face Turn, ruling with kindness and compassion.
  • Gorn: Rainbow Dash, after getting bit up by fly-ders to get the materials needed for the fire in the cave, comes back with a grotesquely swollen face.
  • Greater Need Than Mine: Mistmane willingly gave up her own beauty to restore beauty to her home. The gesture was so selfless and heartfelt that it changed Sable Spirit for the better. Is it any wonder as to why this is Rarity's favorite legend?
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Sable Spirit was jealous of Mistmane's beauty and magical prowess, which led to her trying to cast a spell that would make her more beautiful. After this worked badly and made her hideous instead, her bitterness and jealousy drove her to seize the throne, oppress her subjects and take everything beautiful for herself.
  • Growing Muscles Sequence: Rockhoof magically becomes bigger and stronger, apparently just from being willing to risk his life to save his village from an erupting volcano.
  • Guile Hero: Flash Magnus becomes the hero of his legend through planning an effective and strategic maneuver.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Sable Spirit undergoes this after Mistmane's Heroic Sacrifice also restores her good looks as well, becoming a kind and benevolent ruler.
  • Honor Before Reason: Mistmane gives up her youth and beauty to restore her village and Sable Spirit. Whether Sable Spirit could have been cured in some other way is anyone's guess, but all the village needed was a fresh coat of paint and to have the trees replanted.
  • Horny Vikings: Averted. While Rockhoof's village is inspired by Nordic vikings, they wear winged helmets (historically accurate) rather than the horned variety.
  • Implausible Boarding Skills: At a few points, Flash Magnus uses the shield Netitus like a surfboard partially to protect himself from the dragons' breath but also to gain momentum.
  • Impossible Shadow Puppets: By Rarity during the transitions from her storytelling to the actual story. Her first demonstration takes the form of Twilight as a ballerina, the shadow even detaching itself from her offscreen hooves (you know... those appendages that don't have fingers) in a dancing leap.
  • It's the Best Whatever, Ever!: Sweetie Belle says the camping trip will be the best one ever, only to tempt fate as she, Scootaloo, Apple Bloom, Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash sit down to eat.
  • I Was Quite the Looker: A posthumous example, when Rarity brings up that Mistmane (known as the "wrinkly old sorceress with the flower") used to be the most beautiful unicorn in all the land.
  • Legend Fades to Myth: Applejack's account of Rockhoof has him magically becoming strong and tough in an instant when his village was in danger. In the accompanying comic book, he gained his strength normally because he trained harder than anypony else.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Flash Magnus uses a fireproof shield to protect himself from the dragons' fire breath while flying away.
  • Match Cut: Flash Magnus' story ends with a shot of his face sporting a proud smile, which cuts to Rainbow Dash with a similar expression.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: An in-universe example; Applejack mentions that fly-ders are native to the "Luna Bay area", and don't usually travel so far from their home. She suggests that they may simply have been drawn to the camp site by the group's food.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The camping trip is spoiled by a huge swarm of half-fly half-spider critters called "fly-ders".
  • Mythopoeia: The tales of Rockhoof, Mistmane, and Flash Magnus are implied to be legends of Folk Heroes in Equestria's Oral Tradition.
  • No Antagonist: Unlike Mistmane or Flash Magnus, who have stories with clear villains, Rockhoof's main adversary is a volcano. Simultaneously, the framing story of the camping trip has the characters hiding from a fly-der attack rather than getting involved in a difference of opinion.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted, as young Rockhoof is on latrine duty for his village.
  • Nominal Importance: As is common in the oral tradition, the only characters in the legends with names are the heroes, a villain, and a commander; everypony else is No Name Given.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Flash Magnus is adamant about rescuing his comrades, and soon as he presents Ironhead with a workable plan, his commander helps him. It is small wonder that this is Rainbow Dash's favorite legend.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: The unicorns in Rarity's story have longer horns than the typical unicorns seen. They curve upwards and come to a sharper point.
  • Rapid Aging: This happens to Mistmane when she sacrifices her beauty to save the village and becomes wrinkly.
  • The Resenter: Sable Spirit of Mistmane. Her entire character is driven by her jealousy towards her friend's beauty, popularity and talent at magic.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: When the volcano first erupts, Rockhoof's eyes bulge and he lets out a high-pitched scream. Though it is revealed this sound is actually Apple Bloom squealing in delight at her favorite part. How Rockhoof actually sounded when he screamed is unknown.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The two unicorn guards in Sable Spirit's throne room don't even try to defend their liege when Mistmane challenges her. They both hightail as soon as a sorcerous duel erupts.
  • Security Cling: When Scootaloo is scared by the dragons in the Flash Magnus story, she grabs tightly onto Rainbow Dash's face. Naturally, this makes telling the story difficult.
  • Shock and Awe: The Royal Legion defeats the dragons by building a thunderstorm and luring the dragons into chasing Flash Magnus into it. Dragons being incredibly tough they survive, but they sure get a good shock out of it and choose to give up the chase.
  • Spiders Are Scary: Fly-ders are spiders with insect wings, meaning they can fly, and move in swarms. They can shoot webbing with enough accuracy to tangle a fleeing pony's legs and at one point completely cover a campsite with webbing in a matter of minutes. They're also highly aggressive, and seem to consider ponies to be food. When a huge swarm attacks the camping trip, the characters are visibly — and admittedly justifiably — terrified of them.
  • Spider Swarm: The fly-ders. Unlike solitary real-life spiders, these creatures move in huge swarms, and the ones in the episode are able to force the main characters to flee through sheer numbers and unrelenting multidirectional attacks.
  • Squee!: Apple Bloom squeals (even screams and laughs) with anticipation as Rockhoof's story reaches her favorite part.
  • The Swarm: The fly-ders. They attack in a massive swarm, biting anyone they can reach and trying to web them up. Applejack implies they might have tried to eat them if they had managed to overwhelm them.
  • Throat Light: In Flash Magnus' story, the dragons are first seen covered in shadows, but with Glowing Eyes and light coming out of their maws. Of course, this is explained by their fiery Breath Weapon, as later seen again when the Torch-lookalike is about to fry Flash point-blank.
  • Undying Loyalty: All three of the legendary figures displayed this; Rockhoof toward his village, working hard to save them from the lava despite knowing the odds were against him; Mistmane toward Sable Spirit, sacrificing her own beauty to restore hers, even after she had treated her so cruelly; and Flash Magnus toward his fellow soldiers, being unwilling to leave them at the mercy of the dragons. Flash's loyalty is especially noteworthy, seeing as he's Rainbow Dash's favorite legend.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Apple Bloom yells "Oh, apple rot!" in frustration.
  • Vignette Episode: The episode's story is divided in three unrelated and self-contained segments, with the main characters going on a camping trip serving mostly as a framing device.
  • Vocal Dissonance: When Rockhoof sees the volcano near his village erupting, he lets out a high-pitched, feminine screambut then there is an Eat the Camera transition to show that it is really Apple Bloom squeeing over her favorite part of the story.
  • The Voiceless: Rockhoof doesn't speak a word during his story.
  • We Need a Distraction: Flash Magnus offers himself as live bait to lure the dragons away from the cave, so his companions can rescue the prisoners.
  • Wizard Duel: Sable Spirit and Mistmane battle by using powerful unicorn magic; growing plants surrounding the opponent like a cocoon, and summoning dragon spirits (made of fire and water, respectively) to clash against each other.
  • World Building: If the legends have enough credence to hold water, then there are indeed pony equivalents of Scandinavia and China that actually exist in their world.
  • World-Healing Wave: Mistmane using her magic to restore the land to its former beauty, at the price of her youth, manifests as spreading-out wave of magic.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Mistmane, before sacrificing her beauty to restore that of her homeland, was (at least according to Rarity) the most beautiful unicorn in the land.
  • Wutai: The land Mistmane comes from is heavily influenced by Asian culture, especially China, from the architecture to the way the local ponies dress to the background music.

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