Fluttershy has a rather bad morning when her animals refuse to listen to her and “mind their manners” while eating, and Angel Bunny forces her to make an exotic food dish for him, requiring her to go to the market and get pushed around by other ponies, before he throws it (and her) out a window due to lacking a cherry. Tired of “being a doormat”, Fluttershy ends up going to an “assertiveness workshop” hosted by a minotaur named Iron Will, whose training is little more than teaching people to be aggressive and mean in response to people who get in their way. Fluttershy implements the methods and first starts getting her way, but soon she takes it too far and starts getting violent with anyone who even accidentally causes her some discomfort. When Rarity and Pinkie Pie confront her about her behavior, she ends up personally insulting both of them and sending them running off in tears. Realizing how horrible she’s become, Fluttershy secludes herself in her house to keep “Nasty Fluttershy” from hurting anyone else. When Rarity and Pinkie return to try and talk her into coming out, Iron Will suddenly pops up to collect his fee for the workshop. Rarity and Pinkie’s methods of “being assertive” fail on him and they fear Fluttershy will be cowed by the imposing minotaur, but are both surprised when Fluttershy politely yet firmly tells Iron Will that since his workshop promised “100% satisfaction guaranteed or your money back”, and she’s not satisfied with the results, she owes him nothing. Iron Will leaves empty handed and the three girls make up. Fluttershy writes to Celestia that you can be assertive without being mean, as she refuses to make Angel anything special and only eat what she made for him.
A lot of people hate this episode. Then again, a lot of people love “A Canterlot Wedding”. Looks like I’m going to tick people off twice in my Season Two reviews. 😛
I’ll admit, the part where Fluttershy says rather biting insults to Rarity and Pinkie Pie is not only pretty bad, but it’s a bit OOC even considering the episode. Until now, Fluttershy was only getting aggressive with people she considered trying to “walk over her”. At that part, she just started outright being mean, similar to when she was a bully in “The Return of Harmony”. Now, while it’s bad, I think people make too much out of it. They seem to treat it as if this redefines Fluttershy’s character, which I never liked. If there’s not a trope for this yet there should be, but it’s basically “Pym-ization”: taking one thing a character did one time and then trying to say that defines their entire character. It’s kind of like a “Perceived” or “Forced Flanderization”. It’s not really there but it’s in the collective subconscious of a lot of people. And on this show…that’s really not fair.
Did anyone fault Rarity, the “generous” one, in Season Three for giving Spike just a sliver of a gem to pay for watching Opal? Or Pinkie Pie when she was belligerently mean in “Party of One” or even thoughtless in Season Four? Or did they hate Sweetie Belle when she tried to do something out of pure meanness in the same season? To try and say this one incident “defines Fluttershy” is, frankly, as stupid as those adults who saw Derpy speak and declared she was insulting people with intellectual disabilities. And it’s not like Fluttershy maintained it afterward. She had gotten caught up in no longer being pushed around and thought she had to take it “further” in order to keep being “assertive”. She wasn’t even applying it correctly…just reacting to any perceived slight. And this was her “breaking point”. She broke down in tears herself and then boarded herself up in her own house, afraid she’d hurt people again if she even allowed herself to interact with them. People think it was a sign of “stupidity” or “abuse” that Rarity and Pinkie Pie went back to her, or that Fluttershy manipulates her “friendship”. No…it’s because both of them knew Fluttershy enough to realize she didn’t really mean what she said…that it was just her taking Iron Will’s advice “too far”.
Frankly, I think this was an episode that should have been handled sometime. Fluttershy had a history of being pushed around for being so meek and shy. It seems good that they would deal with it at some point. It does seem a bit “thin”, to be sure. Basically any of the Mane Six could have been in the roles of Rarity and Pinkie Pie and the episode would have worked just as well. But no…I won’t say it’s a bad episode. If for no other reason than this was only the third episode I had ever seen and it was the “hook that landed” that finally got me into “the herd”.
Just like the previous episode proved Pinkie Pie can carry the show by herself, this episode showed Fluttershy can almost carry the show by herself. She needed to play off of Rarity and Pinkie Pie but, in all honesty, any of the Mane Six could have given their lines.
Angel Bunny is horrible in this episode. He’s downright abusive to Fluttershy. He actually b***h-slaps her!
The ponies who pop up (literally) in front of Fluttershy when she’s buying asparagus look ripped straight from the 1980s. Also, the train conductor is selling asparagus…
Pinkie Pie’s way of getting tomatoes for one bit instead of two is another infamous Looney Tunes gag.
Again, Celestia is invoked like God.
Iron Will is obviously a parody of many self-help gurus.
Another sentient race, goats, appear…although they only seem “semi-sentient” in that they only bleat like goats.
When Iron Will comes on stage, what sounds like “Eye of the Tiger” begins to play. He also says he “(pities) the fool” who doubts his methods, a knockoff of Mr. T.
Derpy is in the audience.
Fluttershy is stronger than she looks. She kicks two wagons full of garbage over and tosses a guy by the neck.
When Fluttershy is walking sadly back to her house, the music may be a nod to “The Incredible Hulk” ending theme. Ironically, Fluttershy would go on to be the “Saddle Rager” in Season Four, a parody of the Hulk.
3 Stars out of 5