Twilight Sparkle’s latest lesson in the School of Friendship is to host a “spell-vanger” hunt to assist the students in learning about the cultures of their nonpony students as well as to have a bit of fun, but soon after announcing it gets called away along with the rest of the Mane Six by the Cutie Map to a location way on the edge of the world. Realizing they’ll be gone for days, Twilight sets up Starlight Glimmer to be acting head mare with Spike assisting her. However, the Mane Six hardly leave before Discord show up, expressing his discontent at not having been invited to the opening of the School of Friendship and now wanting to “assist” Starlight. She, however, refuses as that would go against the instructions that Twilight left behind. Discord, in response, starts all sorts of mischief in the school. He begins by transforming Starlight’s office, then brings in substitute teachers who are terrible, and then takes the role of student to mess up Starlight’s replacement substitutes. After an argument following Discord’s last bit of trolling, Starlight banishes Discord’s body from the school property forever, but unfortunately that doesn’t work long. When the spell-vanger hunt gets underway, Discord’s ghost returns to the school and begins to torment the students all over again. However, at this point Starlight realizes what’s going on and, rather than try another spell to remove him, she apologizes to him for not realizing that he was feeling left out: both from not being invited to the school opening and then for not having his “assistance” accepted. She offers to let him act as vice head mare, which he accepts before undoing (almost all of) his mischief. However, at that moment the Mane Six return, and reveal the entire call of the Cutie Map was nothing more than another one of Discord’s tricks to get them out of the school to begin with. Twilight thanks Starlight for her help, while Discord laments he never got to use his new business cards.
Remember how I said that “The Mean 6” was my least-liked episode of Season Eight but there were worse ones? Yeah…
People who dislike Discord episodes do so mostly for the reason that he never seems to “learn” anything…even worse than Fluttershy. Rather than come off as immature or childish tantrums, most of the time his behavior seems like it’s just that of a big jerk. And…I have to agree on a lot of them. With Fluttershy, she seems to learn her lesson. She just keeps getting different contexts and it’s understandable. Discord, on the other hand, reverts after he learns lessons. After the Season Four finale, for example, it’s clear he only thinks of Twilight as a source for personal amusement and a target for his trolling. And that fact has led to a gradually more dismal view of him as the series has proceeded.
This one, however, crosses some lines and throws in another “muddled moral”. It’s one thing if Discord wanted to keep trolling students but, as Starlight pointed out, he was actually endangering students. Worse than that, Discord gets more “biting” in this one. He purposely tries to hurt Starlight mentally by continuously pointing out how disappointed Twilight would be in how she was handling things (even though he was causing all the problems), and later just goes straight into a personal insult on something he knew Starlight hated.
While not being invited to the school opening was a legitimate complaint, the other thing Starlight brings up at the end, not accepting his help, was likely because his “help” would have turned the school into a mass of chaos. I mean, was she supposed to let him undo gravity?
Even the episode doesn’t seem to know its own moral. At one point, Spike chastises Starlight for resorting to magic against Discord rather than talking, only, in his very next line, encouraging her to not let Discord’s trolling get to her. So…which is it? Who’s supposed to be at fault?
The fact of the matter is even if you’re unhappy about something and legitimately so, you can’t just cross lines. For example, if you have a toddler and you promised to get them a treat or something only to forget completely about it and give them nothing, then you’re at fault. If the toddler throws a bit of a fit about it and cries because you promised them, the fit is a bit much but it’s only because you didn’t follow through on a promise. If the toddler then gets so angry they shove themselves against a several-hundred-dollar TV and throw it to the floor, smashing it, then it doesn’t really matter that you promised or not anymore…the toddler is out of line. The same goes with any age group. Being wronged doesn’t entitle you to do whatever you want and suffer no moral responsibility for it. That’s a lesson they teach in preschool.
Discord simply went too far in this one to me, which is a shame because there’s a lot of good points in this episode. The callbacks and the gags associated with older characters are all quite amusing. The Student Six, once again, get their personalities expanded on and they’re all still endearing in their own ways. Starlight once again plays a good role as the most “normal” pony out there having to deal, and Spike is pretty good in this one two acting as assistant to “Twilight 2”. A few of Discord’s gags are actually pretty amusing too. If it wasn’t overshadowed by Discord’s behavior, this might actually be one of the better episodes of this season.
As it is, it ends up below average for me.
The title is a knockoff of the expression “a matter of principle”, as opposed to “principal”.
The full list of the six artifacts are:
- Amulet of Aurora (Hippogriffs)
- Talisman of Mirage (Changelings)
- Helm of Yikslerb (Yaks)
- Crown of Grover (Griffons)
- Knuckerbocker’s Shell (Dragons)
- Clover the Clever’s Cloak (Ponies)
…Anyone think the reason all these races didn’t like ponies is because they appropriated their valuable historical artifacts? 😛
“Being a princess for Twilight was hard enough.” A nod back to Season Five’s “Princess Spike”. I like Starlight’s response. 😛
Discord still has his embroidered handkerchiefs he mentioned in “The Break Up Break Down”.
What ever became of that ambidextrous marmoset…? (Shrug)
Impossible to tell if this episode proves Twittermites or real or Discord just created them. Honestly, it could go either way. Spike doesn’t seem to know what they are.
As yet another joke on how similar Twilight and Starlight are, Starlight seems to practically turn into Twilight when Discord puts her wig on her head.
I think Grover finally found an Equestrian grumpier than a griffon. 😛 The irony is Cranky Doodle Donkey’s human version in the “Equestria Girls” spinoff is a teacher.
Thanks to Discord, Trixie pulls an Ursa Major from her hat. Two callbacks in one, as when Trixie first appeared all the way back in Season One’s “Boast Busters”, her brag was that she had defeated an Ursa Major by herself.
Again, I can’t tell if banana phones are real or something Discord made up. Trixie doesn’t seem to mind them… 😛 The joke might be a reference to a Raffi song: “Banana Phone”.
The students get chased by a Bugbear, the joke from “Slice of Life”. It wouldn’t be the last time he would show up this season.
For a moment, I thought Starlight had actually killed Discord. Shockingly enough? Sandbar and Yona look upset about it.
Gallus hates the idea of the fact getting out that he actually tries to learn. 😛
When the Changelings had the Amulet of Aurora, they were still in their “monstrous” forms, as indicated by the portrait.
This episode introduced a continuity error. Clover the Clever is depicted in a portrait in this episode as a mare, but in “Forgotten Friendship” he was referred to as a stallion. I suppose some other mare could be wearing his things…
I think the reactions of the Student Six to Starlight’s offer to Discord perfectly sum up my reaction.
2 Stars out of 5