• "Filli Vanilli": Episode Followup

    This week, Fluttershy got another turn in the spotlight (literally and metaphorically!) and brought us another music-heavy episode, with a surprising twist and a couple callbacks to classic episodes of seasons gone by.

    Unfortunately, there wasn't a fight over who got to write this followup, so unlike Couch's intro last week, I have no yarns to spin of a heroic battle with my fellow blogponies.

    I have an idea! Let's talk about the episode instead!

    I admit, I somehow missed this on my first watch, as did a lot of my friends! If Fluttershy had mentioned jackalopes in her Find a Pet song two seasons ago, maybe Rainbow wouldn't have had such a hard time deciding on one.

    I can almost feel Cereal's lens flare senses tingling...

    Applejack has always struck me as the pony governed most closely by the laws of physics.  If Fluttershy's singing is enough to shock Applejack to the point that her hat hangs in midair like that, she must be really good.

    Oh Pinkie Pie, you know not what ill fortune you have brought upon yourself.  Making Fluttershy cry is still a capital sin.

    Although I'm pretty sure this moment put Fluttershy firmly in the lead for this week's best face award so far.

    Pinkie tried her best to swipe the best face title right back, but I don't think she quite pulled it off.

    Now this was an unexpected and welcome surprise! Big Mac with a prominent singing role? I never would have expected it, but Peter New does it fabulously.

    As for the two unknown members of the Ponytones, their names aren't mentioned in the episode, but the credits introduce them as Toe-tapper and Torch Song.

    And then everyone forgot there was singing going on and paid attention to the animation for a moment instead.

    "Spike, darling, I hate to break this to you, but dramatic knee-slides are more appropriate at rock concerts than acapella ensembles."

    Thank you for helping us help you help us all.

    What's so important about this screenshot?  Looks like we got a crowd appearance of Cranky Doodle Donkey, who I'm reasonably sure hasn't shown himself since Season Two.  Nice to know he's still hanging around Ponyville.


    Come on, Pinkie.  Big Mac already hardly gets to speak.  Did you have to take turkey calls from him too?

    "I'll cure your voice, but take my hint,
    for goodness sakes, Mac, have a mint."

    And here we have a major callback to an much older episode.  I continue to be impressed with this show's ability to work old concepts into the modern storylines.

    Sorry, Pinkie, I don't think you can win best face during a piece of reused animation.  Fluttershy stays in first for now.

    Based on the synopsis, did anyone expect this episode to go in this direction when it started?  I didn't.  I figured this was going to be solved in some more conventional way.  I love being proven wrong.

    Angel is having none of your crap today, Fluttershy.

    Calpain and I did some big complicated science things and determined that Angel crying has the exact opposite effect on the average brony that Fluttershy crying does.

    So go ahead, average brony.  Laugh.  Laugh as his misery.

    Lyra hanging out with a stallion, and Bon-Bon trying to use a seal to make her jealous.  If there isn't a fanfic about this already, I'm gonna have to strong arm Couch into working it into this week's writer's training grounds prompt instead.  You don't want me to do that.

    I'm pretty sure the attachment point for this guy's wing is much too low on his back.  If he were to fold them, they'd probably cover his cutie mark.

    Anatomical abominations aside, these ponies have interesting designs.

    "Oh, don't mind me, young'uns.  I just came by to pick up another half-a-dozen cats."

    I'll be honest, Pinkie was really scaring me for most of this episode.  Look at that vacant grin.  It's pretty alarming how much of this episode she holds that face for.

    Meanwhile, Gummy shows his true carnivorous nature.  Look at that turkey.  Clearly it's horrified about it's impending fate.

    And then we had Flutterguy's singing debut.  Interestingly, Flutterguy's singing voice is a different VA than her speaking voice, so let's have a round of applause for Marcus Mosley for this performance.

    This is also a good time to talk about how appropriate the episode title really was.  Milli Vanilli was a band from the late '80s and early '90s that eventually fell from grace when it became apparent that they were lip-synching, not singing, at their performances.  I thought they might have chosen that band for the title simply for the horse pun opportunity, but clearly they're cleverer than that!

    And then this happened, because this episode clearly wasn't cute enough already.  Nope.  Not one bit.

    Where's my insulin?

    Another surprising callback.  Maybe that love poison on Hearts and Hooves Day wasn't entirely cured after all.

    Don't worry, Cheerilee.  Big Mac's voice may be gone, but as you can see, his lips are working just fine.

    So, the big pegasus wasn't given a name, but the filly is yet another name to add to the list of very unusual voices done by Tabitha.  This is Zippoorwill, apparently named after the whippoorwill bird, given it's unusual name because its song sounds a bit like it's saying the words "whip-poor-will".

    Zoology lesson over.  On with the show.

    "You're all making art and fanfics of me, right?  I'm going to be this episode's meme, right?"

    "Fluttershy, whenever did you learn to do that?"

    "Oh, um, about seven episodes ago."

    Thought there weren't going to be any background ponies stealing the spotlight in this episode, did you?
    Surprise! Aloe and Lotus being insanely adorable.  You may now proceed to forget what the scene was actually about.

    I guess you could say Fluttershy's performance made a real splash.

    Oh come on, we can't have an episode followup without one joke that makes you want to punch me, can we?

    Yeah, yeah, Cheerilee.  You want the Ponytones to "sing to the class".  That's why you're asking Big Mac about it.  No ulterior motives here.

    Perhaps one of the greatest out-of-context shots in the history of MLP.

    Spike as the bouncer?  I can see it.  He does just about every other odd job.  I bet the little guy has a killer resume by now.

    Is every member of the Mane Six going to pull a duckface this season?

    "What's the diagnosis, doctor?"

    "I just don't understand it.  He's somehow gotten Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational Diabetes all at once."

    "Gestational?  But he's a guy!"

    Honestly, I don't care what happens for the rest of this episode.  Fluttershy wins best face right now.  Take your trophy and go, Fluttershy.

    Did she tuck the whole back half of her body under her?  This pony's starting to give Sonic the Hedgehog a run for his money when it comes to curling into a ball.

    Oh Fluttershy, you and your anxiety-triggered hallucinations.  This one might actually be even more horrifying than the one in Hurricane Fluttershy.

    The creepy stares, the even-stranger-than-usual behavior, and now she's climbing vertical walls?  I'm starting to think Pinkie was possessed for this whole episode or something.

    You made Fluttershy cry twice in one episode?

    Poor Pinkie.  I hope she has a last will and testament.  She might need it.

    Okay, I guess I need to be serious for a second.  One thing a lot of us like to see in these episodes is the characters continuing to grow and better themselves.  Now that we're pretty far into the show, groundbreaking developments in the personalities of the Mane Six happen about as often as Luna appears. (Get it?  Once in a blue moon!)

    Fluttershy has gradually learned to be more confident and more assertive, but she still has many issues and fears to work through.  So I thought it was pretty significant to see her face her greatest source of anxiety and, upon reflection, realize it wasn't quite as bad as she thought.

    Fluttershy is cute.  These outfits are cute.  The outfit on Fluttershy is just stupidly cute.  For that matter, this entire episode is stupidly cute.

    "Ya make me a little nervous when ya look at me like that, Sugarcube..."

    What made the lesson here resonate even more was that Fluttershy's experience wasn't an instant cure for her stage fright.  She's not over her fears, but she's willing to take the first steps on trying to overcome it, rather than hiding from it.  It may be a long way off, but maybe we'll see an episode sometime in the future where Fluttershy performs again, so we can see the progress she's made.

    And I suppose that's all for this week!  Let's give a hoof-stomping round of applause to Amy Keating Rogers for another brilliant episode.  

    Till next time, everypony!