Twilight Sparkle is excited to learn Princess Cadance will be stopping by for a day-long visit, as this will be the first time in ages the two will be able to just “hang out” together without some sort of trouble to take care of. Yet shortly after Cadance arrives, someone else also shows up in Ponyville: Discord. He claims he’s sick with the “blue flu” and came to get “nursed back to health” by Fluttershy. However, as she’s currently out of town observing rare magical creatures, the responsibility falls to the other Mane Six. Yet when Discord learns that Twilight is getting her first visit with Cadance in ages, “convenient happenings” incapacitate the rest of the girls, leaving her the only one who can care for him. Soon, he’s ruining Cadance’s visit by giving one demand after another to them and forcing them to wait on him continuously, which culminates with dragging them to the edge of Equestria and risking death at the hands of a worm monster to pluck a flower he says will cure him. As the day ends, Discord is suddenly better and claims he faked it all as a “test” for Twilight to see if she was really his friend or not, when it’s obvious he did it all just to troll her and try and strain her relationship with Cadance to the breaking point. Twilight is enraged, but Cadance (must to Discord’s displeasure) announces she actually had fun on the visit as it was more exciting than her boring life in the Crystal Empire. Twilight ends up writing that when you’re with a best friend, even the most “chaotic” time can be a lot of fun. As for Discord, he gets his comeuppance when the snake monster sneezes on him, causing him to get genuinely sick.
Although Discord had appeared in the season premiere, it had a feeling of simply being fanservice or, worse yet, an attempt to try and find something interesting about that episode. Even in retrospect of seeing the season finale, he still wasn’t terribly necessary. In a way, that kind of makes this the first “real” Discord episode of this season. And just like any episode that focuses on Discord, it’s a lot of fun. Maybe not quite as enjoyable as other episodes that focus on being zany and fun, but it’s still up there for sure. It basically highlights the main reason for keeping Discord around as a regular: he gives the opportunity for one joke after another. And this episode probably had more pop culture references than any other episode so far. The song represented an interesting challenge as it had to rely mostly on lyrics rather than melody, but Ed Valentine (as opposed to Daniel Ingram, although he did the background music and rhythm) came through.
I have a few minor complaints, nevertheless. It does seem to “drag” at many points in order to get started. Also, I too was kind of eager for a “normal Cadance” episode. I figured it might be interesting to see her in “normal capacity” rather than as a plot device and would be a chance to build on her character. But…once again, she’s wooden, showing there’s really nothing about her that “stands out” other than “she’s a princess everyone loves”. She gets to share an action sequence with Twilight and that’s it for the most part.
Still, this episode isn’t entirely “just for fun”. Twilight Sparkle clearly was never “friends” with Discord after “Keep Calm and Flutter On”. He’s more someone she just (barely) tolerates being around from time to time, especially in episodes like these when it’s clear he may no longer be ruining Equestria but he still looks for opportunities to troll ponies every chance he gets. It makes Twilight’s big moment in the season finale a bit more “special”. Also, this episode helps undo a bit of a “flub” in the season premiere. In that episode, Discord seems so nonchalant about his new friendship with Fluttershy he gets her name wrong and grabs Rainbow Dash by mistake, and in the end just says “whatever”. It’s a bit difficult to reconcile that with the same character in the season finale who eventually tells Fluttershy that she’s “worth” Twilight’s sacrifice.
So, all that said, it might not be as “dramatic” as some of the nicer episodes this season, but still a lot of fun and makes good use of John DeLancie/Discord.
This episode introduces the Breezies, who would figure in Fluttershy’s Key of Harmony episode.
Starswirl the Bearded again is mentioned in this episode. By this point, he was no longer the obscure unicorn Twilight mentioned in Season Two but rather one of Equestria’s most important unicorns. However, another plot hole went along with that. In this season, especially in the “Extended Universe”, such as the IDW comic and the Diary of the Two Sisters, Starswirl had become a contemporary of Celestia and Luna. However, in “Hearth’s Warming Eve”, Clover the Clever mentions that Starswirl was her mentor, and that was presumably a long time before Celestia and Luna came to Equestria as the country was just getting “founded”. So either Starswirl the Bearded lived a very long time…or that’s an error. At any rate, this episode was the first hint we got at what he looked like (other than Twilight’s costume in Luna Eclipsed, of course). The IDW comic would eventually feature him as a character in a flashback, but he has yet to make a similar appearance on the show. At any rate…Twilight (among others) cosplays as him…which is kind of weird considering no one recognized her costume in Season Two.
In another “Internet reference”, and possibly a fourth wall break not done by Discord, Twilight looks at the “camera” and says: “Spoiler alert!” (Actually, the first character to do this in the series was Sunset Shimmer in “Equestria Girls”, which had been released by now, but this was the first in the main series.)
Although the show’s creators have stated, and continue to state, that Equestria Girls takes place in a “parallel universe” and isn’t to be considered part of the main series (and, sure enough, Sunset Shimmer has yet to be mentioned in any episode), Flash Sentry appears as the token pegasus guard of the Crystal Empire in this episode.
Oddly enough, the train from the Crystal Empire appears to be more of a diesel or “bullet” train, where trains before now were steam engines.
When Discord says: “Could somebody find me a fainting couch?”, everyone looks to Rarity…a reference to “Lesson Zero” when she continuously pulled fainting couches out to throw herself on.
At one point, Discord “flashes” himself into a hospital gown and walks around in it a bit, eventually turning his back on the girls and bending over…causing them all to grimace and cover their eyes. 😀
John DeLancie isn’t a good singer. The show creators knew that and made a song (“Glass of Water”) for Discord that worked well by him just “talk-singing”. During the song, he makes allusions to Harry Potter, Ricola lozenges, USA airport security measures, Disney’s Pinocchio, Disney’s Aladdin, the original Star Wars poster, and “Flashdance”.
In another adult reference, when Discord starts giving directions to Twilight and Cadance, his clothing is a nod to “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson.
The “chariot” Twilight and Cadance pull Discord on is similar to the one Xerxes uses in “300”.
The monster that gets unearthed by Twilight and Cadance is similar to the “graboids” from the cult classic “Tremors”, which themselves are knockoffs of the myth of Mongolian Death Worms. It makes a small Wilhelm Scream as it goes underground again.
When Discord is celebrating, the white shirt, sunglasses, and underwear is a reference to the movie “Risky Business”, acknowledged as Tom Cruise’s first major role.
The “friendship necklace” that Discord gives Twilight was a big thing in the 90s, where one friend would have one thing and the other friend would have the “mate”. Discord is trolling Twilight even on the necklace. 😛
“The Diary of the Two Sisters”, by Amy Keating Rogers (one of the show’s writers), calls the worm monster “Tatzlwurm”.
3.5 Stars out of 5