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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S8 E23 "Sounds of Silence"

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Special Guest Star: Rachel Bloom as Autumn Blaze
Written by Gregory Bonsignore
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Applejack and Fluttershy are called by the Map to solve a friendship problem in a far-off location known as the Peaks of Peril. Twilight tells them there's little known about the area, even from Rockhoof, outside of a race called the "Kirin" that are peaceful and trustworthy, but warns them about the "Nirik", a dangerous species that also live in the area. The train takes them to the last stop on the line, where the lone station attendant re-iterates the warnings about the dangers in the area, but directs them to a ring of mountains where the Kirin are reported to be.

En route, Applejack and Fluttershy get into an argument, when Fluttershy stops to help a small group of squirrels, which Applejack insists they don't have time for. However, the squirrels show the pair a hidden cave to enter the mountains far more easily than Applejack's intended route. Past the cave they find a village and are met by the Kirin, who do not speak and only nod or shake their heads in response to the ponies' questions. Applejack believes it impossible to solve the friendship problem without communication, and asks impatiently if they would talk. The village leader points her to a dark forest path which immediately scares Fluttershy. Applejack agrees to explore the path on her own while Fluttershy stays in the Kirin village to try to learn more from the local animals.

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Far outside the village, AJ comes across another Kirin, who initially appears as silent as the others until she breaks out in laughter. She introduces herself as Autumn Blaze, and finally having someone to talk to, after years alone, is happy to explain (in song even) what has transpired: years ago, the Kirin did speak, but one day an argument broke out, causing the Kirin to become flame-wreathed creatures, the Nirik, and their village to be destroyed by their flames. Their leader, Rain Shine, ordered all the Kirin to bathe in the magical Stream of Silence, which not only calmed their tempers but also prevented them from speaking. Peace returned to the village, but for Autumn it became boring not to be able to express any emotion. One day, she accidentally fell into a patch of Foal's Breath flowers, which were able to return her voice. Pleased with herself, she showed her discovery to the village, but none of other Kirin accepted her, and Rain Shine forced her either to return to the stream and lose her voice once again, or be evicted from the village. Applejack realizes this is the friendship problem they have to solve, and prepares to return to Fluttershy to find more Foal's Breath, but Autumn assures her she hasn't been able to find any since.

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In the meantime, Fluttershy has also come to learn the history of the Kirin, but she thinks that the solution they found is the best answer to stop their tempers rising again and ruining the village. Applejack and Fluttershy start arguing. In response, the Kirin grab them with their magic and take them to the Stream of Silence, intending to remove their voices. Just then, Autumn arrives in her Nirik form to save them, showing the other Kirin that she is able to control her anger and revert back to normal. Applejack and Fluttershy also show the Kirin that while they may get into arguments, they know how to calm themselves, and this is something the other Kirin can learn. The other Kirin indicate they want to get their voices back, but Autumn still frets that there is no more Foal's Breath to obtain. One of the squirrels that Fluttershy helped earlier gets their attention and leads them back outside the mountains, showing a patch of Foal's Breath, and Applejack apologizes for not wanting Fluttershy to help the squirrels earlier. Back in the village, they give the Foal's Breath to Autumn, who mixes up the cure in the village fountain. The Kirin all happily drink and regain their voices, and Rain Shine thanks both Autumn and the ponies for their help in showing the error of their ways, and further invites Autumn to return to live in the village.


Tropes:

  • Actor Allusion: Autumn Blaze's voice actress Rachel Bloom is well-known as a comedian, and during her song she claims that her "stand-up was a riot".
  • An Aesop:
    • You shouldn't give up your emotions to avoid feeling anger.
    • As Autumn Blaze's song states, don't let your fear of something bad stop you from enjoying the good.
    • It's okay for friends to disagree as long as they don't let it affect their friendship.
    • Anger is like any other emotion; it's how one chooses to express it that matters.
    • If you're really upset about something, you should take your anger someplace where you won't hurt anyone else.
  • Ambiguous Gender: The Kirin all have female pony body types and many have feminine eyelashes, including both the Phantom and Raoul in Autumn Blaze's play.
  • And I Must Scream: Autumn Blaze basically describes her forced silence this way:
    Autumn Blaze: I was stuck in silent prison with the voices in my head.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: When Applejack asks if Autumn Blaze wants to talk about why she was exiled from the Kirin village, Autumn says no. Then after a beat, says she'd rather sing, launching into a song.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
  • Big Damn Heroes: Autumn Blaze shows up in Nirik form just in time to protect Fluttershy and Applejack from being dunked in the Stream of Silence by the other Kirin after a minor argument.
  • Book-Ends: Fluttershy and Applejack's Friendship mission begins and ends with each complimenting why they need each other.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Applejack and Fluttershy both make good points during their argument about the Kirin; While Applejack is correct that giving up their feelings isn't a real solution, Fluttershy is right about how the Nirik's flames could burn down their entire forest home.
  • Burning with Anger:
    • The Kirin, in their Nirik form, are described as creatures of fire and pure rage. Their coats are black, their hooves are red, their horns are white, and their manes and tails burn with red, blue, and purple flames.
    • Autumn Blaze has better control over her anger, and is able to turn into a Nirik without losing control. However, when she can't figure out another Kirin's Hand Signals, Autumn's eyes briefly light up with flames. She walks behind a rock, lets out a scream of anger complete with a tower of fire, then walks back out much calmer.
  • Cathartic Scream: When Autumn gets frustrated trying to decipher the hoof signals of her fellow kirin, she walks behind a rock and screams with a burst of Nirik flames accompanying it.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The flowers Fluttershy helps the squirrels collect are the type needed to cure the effects of the Stream of Silence.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Because Fluttershy stops to help the squirrels, they return later to identify the type of flower needed to cure the Kirin.
  • Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity: Subverted because Fluttershy finds a shortcut. Otherwise they (or at least Applejack) would've had to climb a sheer cliff to get to the Kirin village.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Autumn Blaze borders on this, and is one of the reasons she was evicted from her village.
  • Color-Coded Wizardry: Like unicorns, the Kirin can use magic and each one has their own unique color (Autumn Blaze's is light blue, for example). However, rather than having their entire horns surrounded by glowing auras, only the chevrons on their horns glow when they use magic.
  • Companion Cube: Autumn Blaze has collected a few over her years of exile, including a group of vegetables with faces painted on them and her own shadow.
    Autumn Blaze: Oh! Did you name your shadow? Mine's called "Silhouette Gloom of the Sundown Lands".
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Twilight notes that the map has specifically paired Applejack and Fluttershy before.
    • The Kirin suppressing their emotions to avoid hurting each other is much like what happened between Starlight and Trixie back in "All Bottled Up".
    • Twilight states that she was told a little about the Kirin by Rockhoof, who seems to be living up to his new position as "Keeper of Tales".
    • While walking the path to the Peaks of Peril, Applejack is twice pestered by Fly-ders.
    • The fact that even very good friends can have arguments was also brought up back in the very first friendship mission.
  • Cross Cultural Kerfuffle: The Kirin apparently take arguing so seriously that, despite Applejack and Fluttershy not being able to turn into Niriks like them, they automatically believe the best course of action to protect their village is dunk them in the Stream of Silence too.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Losing control and turning into Nirik cost the Kirin their village, causing them to take their collective vow of silence to ensure it never happens again. But as Autumn Blaze demonstrates, being able to control their anger also means they can become Nirik without going destructively crazy, letting them use their powers for good.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The Kirin all took a vow of silence following an argument that spiraled out of control and led to the destruction of their village.
  • "Darkness von Gothick" Name: Autumn Blaze names her own shadow "Silhouette Gloom of the Sundown Lands".
  • Determinator: Autumn Blaze. She's searched for the Foal's Breath seventy-three and a half times already, and still believed that second half of the seventy-fourth try to find it might make a difference.
  • Dispel Magic: When Autumn Blaze in her Nirik form creates a circle of flames around Applejack and Fluttershy, it cancels out the levitation magic the Kirin used on them.
  • Dramatic Irony: Before Applejack leaves to find the only kirin who can talk, Fluttershy warns her to watch out for Nirik. Ironically, she's standing in a village of (former) Nirik.
  • Easily Forgiven: None of the Kirin are even called out for forcibly trying to silence Fluttershy and Applejack literally and emotionally.
  • Elective Mute: The Kirin are voluntarily mute, with a little help from a nearby magic stream.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: The crazy old Stationmaster is at first hidden by the shadow of a tree in the background when he shows up, startling Applejack and Fluttershy by talking, before walking out.
  • Emotion Suppression: The Stream of Silence renders anyone who enters it mute, and also limits their ability to feel emotions. (It didn't stop Autumn Blaze from feeling bored and unhappy.)
  • The Exile: Autumn Blaze was exiled because she refused to stop talking again after finding the cure for the Stream of Silence.
  • Fangs Are Evil: The Kirin develop jagged teeth and long fangs in their Nirik forms.
  • Finger Snap Lighter: At one point, Autumn Blaze uses Nirik flames on her hoof to light a candle.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • An eagle-eye will recognize the Foal's Breath flowers Autumn Blaze found look very similar to the flowers Fluttershy picked for the squirrels earlier.
    • Fluttershy's angry outburst when Applejack ignores her allows her to get a word in and explain something that greatly helps the two on their quest, showing how anger can be a force for good if used well.
    • The shield depicting the Kirin and the Nirik bears a faint resemblance to a Yin-Yang symbol, hinting that not only are the two species one-and-the-same, but that their angry sides are an important part of them.
    • If it wasn't just visuals for storytelling in the song the fact that each Kirin enters the Stream of Silence as a Nirik, the supposedly "uncontrolled" form, foreshadows that actually they can control their anger and themselves as Niriks if they have focus.
  • Flaming Hair: The Niriks have manes and tails burning with red, blue, and pink flames.
  • For Want of a Nail: If Fluttershy hadn't stopped to help the squirrels, they never would've found the flowers needed to make the Stream of Silence antidote; and if Applejack hadn't inspired the Kirin to start talking again with her honesty, they wouldn't need to find them.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: If one pauses the frame at the point where Applejack jumps onto a higher plateau, in the lower left corner of the screen, Fluttershy looks back at something.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: This episode is another rare occasion where Fluttershy and Applejack are on an adventure together. The last time being two seasons ago. Twilight even references the event, noting that this is the first time the map has called the same pair (evidently not counting full group missions in that count).
  • The Gadfly: When Applejack first meets Autumn Blaze, she at first appears to be just as silent and emotionless as the other Kirin, until she laughs and reveals that she was just messing with her.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation:
    • Downplayed. While Autumn Blaze is far from crazy, she's clearly gotten a little desperate for contact from how lonely she is. She resorted to doing such things as painting faces on vegetables, and naming her own shadow just to have someone to talk to.
    • The creepy Stationmaster Fluttershy and Applejack meet seems to have cracked from running a stop that nopony rides the train to.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Kirin got into an argument that turned them into Nirik, leading to them burning down their village. They decided they might get into fewer arguments if they all dipped into the Stream of Silence. It works, but it also suppresses all of their emotions, including good ones like laughter and happiness. And the Foal's Breath flower that reverses the effects is so rare that Autumn Blaze hadn't found any more until Fluttershy came, and was beginning to Go Mad from the Isolation as the only one in the forest who had been freed from the stream's effects.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: The Kirin are normally very kind and peaceful but can easily get upset, and this is intensified in that they literally go up in flames if they cross a threshold. Even Autumn Blaze is easily triggered but manages to control it.
  • Hypocrite:
    • While trying to convince the Kirin to reclaim their emotions, Fluttershy points out that even she and Applejack argue. Applejack denies this, driving Fluttershy to point out they already argued twice that day (and were arguing that very moment).
    • Fluttershy has one moment. During an earlier argument over whether the Kirin should get back their emotions or not, Applejack accuses Fluttershy of not "talking any sense". Fluttershy argues that it's because Applejack isn't listening. However, she herself isn't listening to Applejack's argument.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: As is usual for many songs in this show, Autumn Blaze's expository one use imaginative scene transitions, like a couple butterflies crossing the screen, Nirik fire engulfing it, Autumn tossing bread across, a shower of Foal's Breath flowers, a flyer fluttering, a swinging chandelier, etc.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The Peaks of Peril. Fluttershy lampshades the fact that names of places in Equestria are very descriptive as well, in explaining why she doesn't like the sound of this place.
  • It Amused Me: When Applejack first meets Autumn Blaze, Autumn pretends to be silent and emotionless just like the other Kirin for a short while before quickly laughing and revealing she tricked Applejack, simply because she missed pulling jokes.
  • It's a Long Story: When Applejack asks about how the Kirins' vow of silence came to be, Autumn Blaze's answer is "It's a long story." At first, AJ believes this means she'd rather not talk about it, only for Autumn Blaze to subvert her expectations and responds she'd rather sing about it.
  • Kirin: The show's version of Kirin borrows on the standard Eastern mythological depiction of these, although it focuses more on giving them more equine qualities than the dragon elements. They still have scales that run across their heads and along their backs, and have dragon-like horns.
  • "Knock Knock" Joke: Applejack tries one to break the ice with a Kirin. It's painfully bad.
    Applejack: Knock, knock! Now you say, "Who's there?"
    [beat]
    Applejack: Police. "Police who?" Police [please] say somethin'!
    [beat]
  • Large and in Charge: As is usual for the rulers of species and societies in the show, Rain Shine is much taller than her subjects.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Briefly discussed in the beginning. Fluttershy gets terrified upon learning they have to go to the Peaks of Peril. Applejack tries to calm her by saying it's just the place's name, but Fluttershy starts giving examples of other locations, such as Cloudsdale and the Crystal Empire, where the name describes the place very well.
    • All the named Kirin have this as well. Namely their names consist of two words that have very contrasting meanings, referencing the contrast of the kirin's dual nature. Autumn (a cool season) Blaze (fiery destruction), Rain (cloudy weather) Shine (bright light), Fern (a plant associated with lush environments) Flare (something that could burn up such an environment).
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Fitting with their mythological description, Equestrian Kirins have the body shape of ponies, cloven hooves, leonine manes/tails, a singular horn resembling deer antlers, and dragon scales all over their heads and backs.
  • Motor Mouth: Autumn Blaze is a blabbermouth, due to having spent years in silence.
    Fluttershy: She talks?
    Applejack: You have no idea.
  • Mundane Utility: In the closing reprise of the song, we see Autumn Blaze use her Nirik fire to light a candle.
  • Musical Exposition: Autumn Blaze's song is giving the whole backstory of the Kirins/Niriks to Applejack, and thus the audience. With a few digressions resulting from her Cloudcuckoolander personality, though.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The rainbow that Applejack and Autumn Blaze watch looks like the My Little Pony G1 logo.
    • One shot during Autumn's song shows her in a square with other various images around those. One of those is the cutie mark of G3's Rainbow Dash.
  • Name That Unfolds Like Lotus Blossom: Alluding to the Kirin's origins in Chinese mythology, Autumn Blaze named her shadow "Silhouette Gloom of the Sundown Lands".
  • No Antagonist: Really there's no pony or Kirin actively working against their friendship quest, though the lack of communication does make it harder to figure out.
  • No Sense of Personal Space:
    • When Applejack leaves to find a Kirin who can actually talk, Fluttershy is left behind in the village. Some Kirin suddenly get up in her face and just stare at her without expression, making Fluttershy visibly feel awkward.
    • Autumn Blaze gets very touchy-feely with Applejack during their initial meeting and Autumn's song.
  • Partial Transformation: When Autumn Blaze is frustrated over not being able to understand another Kirin, she gains the flames on her mane and eyebrows, Blank White Eyes, and fangs from her Nirik form, but is able to rein in her temper to prevent herself from going further.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Along with their lack of emotions, the Kirin also don't smile for most of the episode.
  • Purple Prose: Invoked by Autumn Blaze while she and Applejack are enjoying the view outside her home.
    Autumn Blaze: The way the light shimmers off everything, like, like it all suddenly woke up the moment you saw it. And you realize maybe the water and the mountains and the forest and the... yes, the rainbow and the stars and the sky are all looking back at you thinking the same thing? That we are a part of the everything. That maybe there's just one thing and we are all it.
  • Quizzical Tilt: Since Kirins don't talk and show little emotion, the one most common bit of body language they demonstrate is a curious head tilt. It's adorable.
  • Reactive Continuous Scream: When Fluttershy and Applejack reach the Peaks of Peril, they are startled by the ticket taker when he emerges from behind them and gives a scary, maniacal scream, which in turn makes them scream in terror.
  • Reality Ensues: In the end the idealistic argument that positive emotions are worth the cost of negative ones isn't actually the only thing that convinces the Kirin to take the cure (Autumn Blaze had given that argument many times after all), but rather it is Autumn Blaze proving that the Nirik form can be controlled enough to not cause damage.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Rain Shine ultimately proves to be this by the end of the episode, as she commends Autumn Blaze for helping her people realize their mistake and welcomes her back to the village.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Downplayed. A Kirin's angry form, the Nirik, isn't evil per se, but their rage causes them to make terrible decisions, including ones that led to the entire Kirin village being destroyed by their flames.
  • Sadistic Choice: After the other Kirin got annoyed with Autumn Blaze's talkative nature, Rain Shine gave her an ultimatum: stay silent and remain in the village, or keep her voice and be banished to the forest. Autumn chose the latter.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Twilight warns AJ and Fluttershy that while there's stories about the Kirin where the map is sending them, there are also tales of more dangerous creatures, the "Nirik". Turns out this is the name adopted by the Kirin when their anger overtakes them.
  • Shout-Out:
    • According to Twilight, "Flanks don't lie."
    • The crazy old pony at the train station states he's surprised seeing anyone at the End of the Line, the Final Destination, the Last Stop... all titles of horror/thriller movies.
    • During Autumn Blaze's song, there's a number of references that zip by:
      • Newsheets that she prints out for the other Kirin have a logo similar that to the daily Hollywood trade magazine Variety.
      • She dresses and performs on stage based on the musical Hamilton.
      • She stands behind a podium in front of a giant poster of herself, mirroring the iconic shot from Citizen Kane.
      • A play that Autumn Blaze refers to in her song is a Kirin-ified The Phantom of the Opera.
    • Autumn Blaze shares some qualities with another character played by Rachel Bloom, including some of her Cloudcuckoolander tendencies and her busting out into song. Unlike Rebecca Bunch, however, she's got her darker side more under control.
    • When attempting to understand Hand Signals, Autumn Blaze guesses "baby fish mouth", which was also a guess during a Pictionary game in When Harry Met Sally....
  • Shown Their Work:
    • In the original myths, Kirin could Walk on Water like Autumn Blaze does near the end.
    • Buddhist-inspired depictions of Kirin have them spouting flames when angered, much like the Nirik.
    • The coconuts hanging from the palm trees near Autumn Blaze's house are colored green, as that's the color coconuts start off as before they turn brown as they ripen. On the other hand, there's the question why are they growing away from the sea.
  • The Speechless: The Kirin are mute as a result of going through the Stream of Silence. Autumn finds a cure which helps her regain her voice, and later the others as well.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Autumn Blaze suddenly appears right next to Applejack, just after the latter was distracted by a squirrel, resulting in a scare jump.
  • The Stoic: The Kirin are this for most of the episode, as the Stream of Silence takes away not only their voices, but also their ability to feel emotions.
  • Super Mode: As it turns out, the Nirik form can be controlled and becomes closer to this trope.
  • Super-Powered Evil Side: When the Kirin are angry, they turn into Nirik, creatures made of fire. The last time they changed, they accidentally destroyed their home. They eventually learned that they can still control themselves in this form though and use it for good.
  • Technicolor Fire: The flames of the Nirik are a blend of reds, purples and blues.
  • Thoroughly Mistaken Identity: Pony historians believed that the Kirin and Nirik were actually separate species, rather than two forms of the same creature.
  • Timmy in a Well: When Autumn Blaze is attempting to determine what her friend wants from her pantomime, she asks "is some Kirin trapped in a well?"
  • Titled After the Song: The episode title references the Simon & Garfunkel song "Sound of Silence".
  • Translation by Volume: Confronted with the silent Kirin, Applejack starts speaking louder and louder, as well as using a slower elocution. She even ponders if they actually understand Ponish, to which they nod.
  • Treetop Town: A significant portion of the Kirin's village consists of treehouses built high in the boughs of their forest and connected by rope bridges.
  • Triumphant Reprise: Autumn Blaze sings a happier reprise of her song, signifying how her village has finally ended the Vow of Silence.
  • Voice of the Legion: As seen with Autumn Blaze, the Kirin speak with demonic-sounding voices in their Nirik form.
  • We Have the Keys: Fluttershy's time with the squirrels reveals a much simpler way of getting into the Kirin village than the more harrowing path that Applejack took — twice.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • After their village was burned down, Rain Shine enforced the vow of silence onto her subjects in order to prevent a similar incident from happening again.
    • Later, when the Kirin see Applejack and Fluttershy arguing in their village, they levitate the two of them and try to dunk them into the Stream of Silence to stop them, only being stopped when Autumn Blaze arrives as a Nirik to save them.
  • World Building: Fluttershy and Applejack explore a region ponies have long avoided that is inhabited by Kirin.
  • Wreathed in Flames: Kirin tend to burst into flames when angered.
  • You Say Tomato: Played for laughs. Autumn Blaze has trouble pronouncing a few words that she doesn't normally say very often because she's gone so long without someone else to talk to. So, when she speaks, she struggles with a few words, and keeps correcting herself.
    Autumn Blaze: So it's a lot for me to, you know, pro-sess... prah-cess... er, deal with.

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