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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Season 1, Episodes 5 and 6

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 at 8:30 AM

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Even in the magical land of Equestria, some folks are just plain rotten. And they often find their way to Ponyville.

Episode 5: "Griffon the Brush Off"

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Twilight Sparkle is trying to get some reading done, but Pinkie Pie is full-on fangirl about Rainbow Dash's acts of show-offery, much to Twilight's annoyance.

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Rainbow is not especially in the mood for Pinkie today, either. Pinkie's search brings us to this episode's DerpyWatch, and Proto-Derpy is of no help.

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The pre-credits sequence involve a throwaway George of the Jungle reference, but Pinkie Pie's subsequent chase after Rainbow Dash is a considerably more extended Pepe Le Pew shout-out, but without Pepe's implied rapeyness.

Rainbow finally gives up and agrees to help Pinkie Pie with a prank: placing a cloud just so in order to create a burst of lightning to scare Spike into catching the hiccups. (To paraphrase Peter Boyle in Malcolm X, that's too much power for one pony to have.)

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It works, and Spike's a good sport about it. He also sometimes belches fire when he hiccups, such as when he's carrying an armful of blank scrolls...

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...which, as established by the opening credits, is a straight line to Princess Celestia.

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Well, DragonMail is still in Beta. Alternative: uh-oh, looks like Celestia is on LinkedIn! Leave your own caption suggestion in the comments.

Rainbow Dash realizes that Pinkie Pie isn't as annoying as she thought, and they go on a reign of less-lethal pranksterism -- putting sneezing powder on Rarity's nose, switching out Twilight's visible ink with invisible ink, painting Applejack's apples with what one hopes is lead-free paint -- though Pinkie stops short of pranking the delicate Fluttershy. (Good! I'm protective of Fluttershy.)

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Instead, Pinkie pranks Rainbow. (Good! I'm not protective of Rainbow.)

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All is well until the next morning, when an old friend of Rainbow's from Junior Speedster Flight Camp comes to town: Gilda the Griffon.

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Gilda has more in common with Rainbow than Pinkie. Much like Rainbow, Gilda a) can fly and b) is a tremendous nozzle. She also doesn't care for Pinkie's attempts to keep up with them, not even in Pinkie's contrabulous fabtraption.

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Pinkie Pie turns to the just-trying-to-study Twilight Sparkle for moral support and is not at all happy when Twilight suggests that maybe Pinkie is jealous, and that Pinkie herself is the one with the problem, not Gilda. I cannot even express how much I identify with Pinkie's indignation, and this brings up one of things I admire about this show: For as much as it's about friendship, it doesn't shy away from the fact that sometimes your friends, especially when they're trying to be neutral or (worse) take the high road, are just plain wrong.

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Trying to take that dumb stupid high road, Pinkie tries to open her mind to the idea that maybe Gilda isn't so bad after all. She witnesses Gilda pranking Applejack's elderly, barely mobile Granny Smith -- which is as bad as pranking Fluttershy -- and worse, Gilda steals an apple.

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More worse even than that, Gilda gets all Ratso Rizzo (in Joe Buck's body) and bullies Fluttershy, which is absolutely not okay.

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Note that as the stakes of the episode are raised, the tendency for long shots in the beginning (emphasizing the mise-en-scène) gives way to more medium shots and close-ups (emphasizing the emotions of characters). I have a film degree from San Francisco State University, and I run Bad Movie Night, therefore I am an expert in these matters. Do not question me.

The situation calls for extreme measures, Pinkie Pie style! So she throws a party for Gilda, which is what every situation calls for. Applejack and Rarity aren't entirely sure who Gilda is, because they haven't been involved in that plotline, while the still-traumatized Fluttershy has her doubts.

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Pinkie Pie assures Fluttershy that her "auntie Pinkie Pie's got it all taken care of!" and bounces off -- leaving Fluttershy to grouse "I'm a year older than you" after her, with perfect comic timing -- and welcomes a suspicious Gilda to the party. Gilda proceeds to fall victim to prank after prank, while frequently warning Pinkie Pie that she knows what Pinkie's up to.

After a round of the inexplicably popular Pin the Tail on the Pony goes awry, Gilda loses what little of her cool is left.

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When Gilda tries to get Rainbow Dash on her side, Rainbow reveals that she herself set the pranks, and that it was just dumb luck that Gilda set them all off. Gilda leaves in a huff -- which is faster than a minute and a huff -- and Pinkie happily accepts Rainbow's apology. Pinkie also accepts the (far more necessary) apology from Twilight Sparkle for having doubted her.

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This episode's Shoehorn doesn't really quite address what either Rainbow or Twilight learned, instead opting for a generic "It's okay for your friends to have other friends who suck" message, and Fluttershy's story thread is left dangling. Oh well. Endings are not among the show's many strengths, and least it's not the dreaded Everybody Laughs Ending, though that's going to happen eventually.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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