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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S9E9 "Sweet and Smoky"

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Garble the beatnik poet, caught in the act by Flutershy.

Written by Kim Breyer-Johnson
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At the School of Friendship, Smolder asks Twilight if she can go back to the Dragonlands for a few days to spend time with her brother, as well as checking up on the status of a cache of dragon eggs that are soon to hatch. Twilight is concerned about the safety of the trip, but Spike suggests that he offers to come along as to help make the trip part of school credit for Smolder. Further, Fluttershy is piqued by seeing dragon eggs hatch, and offers to join Smolder and Spike.

At the Dragonlands, Smolder goes off to find her brother, while Fluttershy sets off to locate Ember and the dragon eggs. Spike is soon hounded by Garble and his dragon friends, who continue to tease Spike about being soft after spending time with ponies. Smolder soon arrives, revealing that Garble is her brother, and accuses him of teasing Spike as a means to cover his own soft side. The other dragons laugh at Garble, leaving Garble and Smolder to fly off. Spike soon joins them as the two reconnect, though Garble continues to act as a bully towards Spike. Later, Garble rejoins his dragon friends as they drain various lava pools to make for lava surfing.

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Meanwhile, Fluttershy finds Ember in a panic about the dragon eggs. They're supposed to hatch soon, but are not showing the usual signs. Fluttershy offers to help mother the eggs by speaking kindly and reading to them, but this doesn't help. Fluttershy goes off to find Spike, only to find him tormented by Garble and his friends. She yells at the dragons to leave Spike alone, and they set off. Fluttershy realizes she was perhaps too mean to them and goes to apologize. She finds Garble reading off his beatnik poetry to Smolder — the side of himself that he kept hidden from other dragons. Fluttershy tells Garble that he should not be afraid of showing off his true self, a fact Smolder confirms after her time at the Friendship School. Garble remains wary of the advice, not wanting his friends to laugh at him.

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Spike meets with Ember to discuss the problem with the eggs. Spike finds that the ground around the eggs is far too cold, and Ember traces the problem to the diverted lava flow created by Garble and his friends. After scolding the group for their carelessness, Ember gathers all the dragons to breathe into the egg caches to help warm them up. This helps, but it's not enough to get the eggs to hatch. Garble gets an idea, and proceeds to read off his poetry to the dragons. Most of the dragons start to laugh, causing their fire breath to get hotter, and soon the eggs start to hatch. Garble admits his sensitive side to Spike and apologizes for his past behavior, while Fluttershy and Ember oversee the new dragon hatchlings.


Tropes:

  • As You Know: Spike mentions that the dragons know that "laugh fire" can be dangerous.
  • Baby Talk: Fluttershy quickly indulges in this when she's around the dragon eggs. Ember reluctantly tries it herself in an attempt to get them to hatch.
  • Badass Boast: Fluttershy invokes this after deciding to talk to Garble.
    Fluttershy: Just you wait, Garble. You're dealing with Fluttershy now, and she's packin' a whole lifetime of kindness!
  • Be Yourself: Garble is encouraged to be open with his love of poetry, rather than hide it.
  • The Bus Came Back: Garble returns after he was last shown in the first part of the Season 7 finale.
  • Call-Back:
    • First seen in the very first episode of the series, Fluttershy's love for baby dragons finally gets to be on full display here.
    • Spike mentions going through the molt.
  • Character Development:
    • Garble finally receives some, going from being a one-note dumb muscle bully to having actual motivations for his behavior and Hidden Depths nobody could have seen coming.
    • Fluttershy chooses in excitement to go to the Dragon Lands after spending the first two seasons afraid of dragons.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • It turns out you don't have to be a purple pony with a purple mane and a shiny thing for a cutie mark for Ember to have troubles telling you apart from other ponies. She gets Fluttershy mixed with Rainbow Dash, as well as with Pinkie Pie and Applejack despite the fact the latter two don't have wings and are completely different colors.
    • Spike suggests using the Smile song to cheer up Smolder's brother.
    • Spike once again refers to himself as the Equestria's official friendship ambassador for the Dragon Lands.
    • Spike and Fluttershy have considerably more success when they switch roles, as did Pinkie Pie and Rarity.
  • Convection Schmonvection: The lava rivers and lakes of the dragon lands don't radiate much heat at all — any heat present apparently stops exactly at the lava's edge, allowing Fluttershy to stand comfortably close to an open river of lava with no discomfort.
  • Cool Big Bro:
    • While still being a jerk, Garble gets along well with Smolder, even opening up to her with his poetry.
    • Smolder herself continues to act as a Cool Big Sis to Spike. When she hears that Garble has been picking on Spike, she becomes mad at him briefly, and also defends him from the other dragons in Garble's clique.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Just hearing about the baby dragons makes Fluttershy gush. It intensifies when she's around the eggs, and reaches its zenith once they actually hatch.
  • Easily Forgiven: After being Spike's bully and Sitcom Arch-Nemesis since Season 2, the episode ends with Spike burying the hatchet with Garble after learning about his insecurities.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Smolder calls Garble "Gar-Gar", a name he doesn't like being called in public — or by anyone other than Smolder, as Spike finds out when he tries to use it.
  • Eureka Moment: When the dragons are breathing fire on the eggs to hatch them, Garble figures out they can make the flames hotter by making the dragons laugh. So he grabs his bongo drums and performs his beat poetry in-front of everyone to get them to laugh.
  • Everyone Has Standards: The three teen dragons might be total jerks, but, after being told that they are the reason the eggs are not hatching, they sink into the pool they're sitting in in shame.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Both Ember and Fluttershy fail to notice that the hatching area has gone cold instead of being hot like it needs to be and assume the eggs are shaking because they are scared instead of being cold. Spike realizes this shortly after meeting up with Ember.
  • Fantastic Racism: Garble towards ponies again, in calling Spike a pony-dragon. It gets called out by Fluttershy.
    Fluttershy: [gasp] First of all, there's nothing wrong with being a pony!
  • Foreshadowing: The dragons' fire breath get hotter and changes color as they laugh harder when Garble and friends are taunting Spike. This becomes the key to solving the dragon egg dilemma.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: While Spike and Fluttershy have had some interactions before, this is the first episode to be dedicated to the two of them.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: It is revealed Garble only acts like a jerk and bullies Spike and others he sees as "weak" due to peer pressure from his "friends". He actually has a softer side and enjoys beat poetry but hides it from everyone but Smolder out of fear of being humiliated. Smolder sympathizes with him at first, until she finds out he has been picking on Spike, a friend of hers, behind her back. When Garble says Spike deserves being picked on for being a weakling anyways, Fluttershy tells him to his face that Spike is stronger than he is because Spike isn't afraid to be who he is no matter what anyone thinks of him.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Fluttershy asks Ember if all dragon eggs are hers, basically asking if they operate like bees with the leader mating with all the males. Ember's blushing reaction pushes it even more.
  • Heel Realization: Fluttershy and Smolder help Garble realize how much of a hypocritical prick he's repeatedly been to Spike, while masking his own insecurities, which finally causes him to have an attack of conscience.
  • Heroes' Frontier Step: After spending most of his appearances in the series being at best a brute and a bully, and at worst a murderous, sadistic sociopath, in this episode, not only does Garble reform, he also performs an amazing act of heroism. This episode reveals that he's Smolder older brother and that he genuinely cares for her. It's also revealed that most of his bullying and jerk behavior was to hide his insecurities, keeping his beatnik poetry a secret from his friends and continuing to bully Spike throughout the episode. When Smolder and Fluttershy call Garble out on his actions, pointing out that Garble has been kicking around Spike to appear tough and masculine in front of his crew, while covering up his own sensitive interests for fear of mockery, where Spike is brave enough to be himself, he admits their point. But the thing that redeems him is when he learns that the dragon eggs need heat to hatch, and Spike gives him the idea to read his poetry to the dragons. Most of the dragons start to laugh, causing their fire breath to get hotter, and soon the eggs start to hatch. He's willing to subject himself to the humiliation and mockery he's dreaded would come with his passion in order to ensure the survival of the baby dragons. Garble finally admits his sensitive side to Spike and apologizes for his past behavior.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Non-lethal example with Garble. He willingly humiliates himself in-front of the other dragons by performing his beat poetry so that they will all laugh at him and their flames will become hot enough to make all the dragon eggs hatch. Subverted afterwards when Ember calls him the Hero of the Dragon Lands for this action, negating any mockery that could be thrown at him.
  • Hidden Depths: Garble is a beatnik poet. The reason these depths were hidden was because he was afraid of being mocked for it.
  • Hypocrite: Garble picked on Spike for being weak, in spite of the fact that he had been trying to hide his own "weakness" from his gang. Even after admitting his love of poetry, he laughs at the idea of Spike being strong.
  • I'm Taking Her Home with Me!: Fluttershy is so utterly taken by the baby dragons' cuteness, by the end of the episode she grabs a armful of them while cooing "I'll take them all!"
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • When Garble admits to Fluttershy that he's a poet, he claims that he is not a "flowery, namby-pamby poet", he is a "beat" poet.
    • Earlier, Spike starts correcting the bully dragons' use of "baby blanket", only to realise that "comfort blanket" doesn't sound much better.
  • Irony: In his previous appearances, Garble seemed to be the one calling the shots for his gang. But here, he's shown to actually follow their lead in appearing to be a "tough dragon".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Smolder certainly believes Garble to be this, since he was apparently a good brother to her in the past, and after a good scolding, he does ultimately prove that he's capable of growing up and making amends for his past actions.
  • Lava is Boiling Kool-Aid: The lava in the episode behaves in a much more fluid manner than real-life lava typically does; it's runny enough to go up Spike's nose like water after his bellyflop and for Smolder to swim in and out of with ease.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Once Smolder learns that Garble has been picking on Spike and angrily questions Garble about it, all Garble says in his defense is a nervous "only when you're not looking". He also says he would be a target of bullying otherwise and that Spike deserves it for being a weakling anyway, which just earns him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech from Fluttershy.
  • Pet the Dog: When Garble gets his Eureka Moment on how to save the dragon eggs, observing the dragon's laugh fire, he quickly credits Spike for the idea after Spike says that the laugh fire could "burn somepony", petting him on his head and calling him his nickname.
    Garble: Burn... Good idea Spikey-Wikey!
  • Pun: After Fluttershy tells Garble that Spike is strong enough to be himself, unlike Garble, Smolder notes "For a pony without a horn, she's got a point."
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Spike, Smolder and Fluttershy all give Twilight these to convince her to let Smolder leave school for a week.
  • Reality Ensues: Even after the source of the problem is found, and Ember forces Garble's gang to block up the redirected lava flow, there still isn't enough heat in the ground for the eggs to hatch. All that lava can't go back the way it came.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Fluttershy delivers one to Garble for his consistent mistreatment of Spike.
  • The Reveal: Smolder had mentioned her brother once before, but never gave any details about him. Here, it's revealed that Garble is Smolder's brother.
  • Reformed Bully: After being thoroughly shamed by Fluttershy and Smolder, Garble finally acknowledges that he's been a shallow, cowardly hypocrite who's stifling his own passion for faux acceptance among his peers, and he gives up his bullying ways for good to make amends with Spike and embrace every aspect of himself.
  • Ship Tease: Smolder playfully boops Spike on the nose after noting that her brother is as sweet as he is. Spike gushes a little in response.
  • Shout-Out: Garble calls Spike "pony-boy".
  • Shown Their Work: The laugh-fire ranges, in ascending order of heat, from yellow, to pink, and finally light blue. While pink fire has no ties to temperature (it can be made, but only by burning certain chemicals), blue fire is far hotter than orange or yellow fire.
  • Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Ember mentions that her father gave her very little information regarding the duties of the Dragon Lord.
    Ember: It's kind of a "burn or be burned" job.
  • Smart Ball: Spike notices the reason the dragon eggs aren't hatching is because the ground under them isn't hot, something that both Ember and Fluttershy failed to notice themselves, even though Ember has been watching the eggs for seemingly weeks and Fluttershy stuck her head into the egg pits several times.
  • Technicolor Fire: The color of the dragons' fire determines its heat — orange-yellow fire is hot, pink is hotter and blue is hottest.
  • Tempting Fate: Before finding out just who Smolder's brother is, Spike claims that they're going to be "best buddies".
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The episode features two separate plotlines — Smolder and Spike dealing with Garble, and Fluttershy trying to help Ember with the dragon eggs — with a common conclusion.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Garble's gang mock Garble for his poetry, even after it helped to hatch the eggs.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Garble's gang redirected the flow of lava, causing the hatching grounds to become too cold for the eggs to hatch.
  • With Friends Like These...: Garble's friends are quick to taunt him if it's even suggested he has a sensitive side.

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