• "A Health of Information": Episode Followup

    Hey, everyone! Sorry this is late, but I promise it's because I had to get some sleep and do this followup proper. I mean, self-care is important, yeah?

    Hahaha, I crack myself up sometimes. Dumbf***s were outside my apartment doing unmuffled burnouts in the parking lot a block over and I'm awake because of their lack of judgment. So how 'bout we do something about it and talk about that time Fluttershy forsook her hopes and dreams for the health of a friend?

    Smack me up below the break.

    Oh, sweet. Fluttershy and Zecora are just kickin' it in the Everfree Forest. Why, you ask? Because that's exactly what the story needed before it began? Man, how about because Zecora's presence puts Fluttershy enough at ease to walk around in the woods?

    Meanwhile, I'm quietly squeeing to myself that Fluttershy is hanging around the Everfree Forest. Personal reasons. Can't imagine impugning my professionalism by linking a captive audience to a creative project of mine on someone else's website, right?

    Tell me you've hung around someone with an accent and not slipped into imitating them at least once. This episode does a really good job of setting up gags and payoffs, and Fluttershy's just cute every time she catches herself rhyming.

    Not even once, foals.

    So when this scene first opened, I was worried that Zecora was going to visit the town veterinarian and not a licensed physician. Thankfully, that didn't happen.

    Also, someone left their galaxy brain meme unfinished.

    Speaking of -- Sammie Crowley and Whitney Wetta? You folks with the writing credit this week? A rare, contagious illness with no cure that turns its victims into trees after they sneeze lightning and develop cardiac rhythms like Neil Peart solos? And showing us one of those trees at the beginning of this episode, which lost a branch when Zecora lost her balance? This is ghoulishly messed up.

    I love it.

    Equestria has always been its most alluring to me when it contains pockets ponies haven't quite tamed yet -- I got hooked on the show in its early seasons, back when we just didn't know all that much about the world, and plenty of compelling stories reared their heads just by pitting Pony vs. Environment.

    Funny, too -- the first time we met Zecora, it involved ponies getting covered in blue spots. Everfree flora ain't nothing to be messed with.

    By the way, this doctor's bedside manner sucks. I'm not even talking about his "lol, bye" bit at the end of his consult -- mumbling things like "that's not a good sign" and conjuring lightning bolts and a dramatic background upon pronouncing his diagnosis is sure to get him a 1-star review on Pony Yelp.

    But, okay. I am totally on board with a Fluttershy ready for adventure. We've seen enough episodes where she's ducking in the back line while the rest of the girls lead the way, and she's certainly come a long, long way from "Dragonshy" (granted, there be no dragons where she's headed, but... Fluttershy? Leading a journey? WANT.)

    I really appreciate that Twilight and Spike were in the middle of an intense bake-off when Fluttershy came calling. I've gotten the impression during these past few seasons that we always link up with Twilight at the Cutie Map or in a library, and feel like it's been a while since we've just seen her chilling like a normal poner.

    She cooks about as cleanly as she eats, too.

    I can also never get enough of Fluttershy's constant failure to respect personal space in this episode.

    Fluttershy's just a little too good at rifling through books in this scene, though.

    I'll admit that there've been times when I've been jolted out of an episode because I just didn't buy the angle the writer took with a character I have long-cemented opinions of. So while I thoroughly enjoyed Fluttershy in this one through and through, others of you might've felt differently.

    I can't explain it any other way than pure bias. Fluttershy's up there as one of my favorite ponies, sometimes third, sometimes first, sometimes somewhere in between. I like seeing her in roles where she acts capably, especially in her own way as we see later.

    "Pillows are softer" is the lesson Twilight learns, and one she'd gotten right as far back as her first ever sleepover.

    Of course, when you're a princess, you don't have to learn anything. Just be fabulous.

    FACES. An avalanche of them. I'll tell you, late-night/early-morning shipfic rants, as these two are clearly indulging in, go exactly like this with enough sleep deprivation and happy juice.

    "So you didn't think the ones with Princess Luna were too out there?"

    "Filly, we are checking you into therapy first thing when we get back."


    Girl eats. She's a mare after my own heart.

    I don't know why I'm dying over her near-tears reaction to being told they weren't bringing along her sweet potato muffins, but it's endearing to see her take sufficiently dorkish pride of her baking prowess. It's just... refreshing to see her not in princess or books mode.

    And the episode even had time to toss in some more rapport between Spike and Twilight. Awful nice of him to compliment Twilight's baking by way of leaving none of it left over for her.

    >yfw you will never have a Fluttershy at your bedside telling you about how she's going to find a cure for your illness

    Ooof, doors. Fluttershy's nemeses ever since that one Nightmare Night when Princess Luna came a-calling.

    Meanwhile, I'm not convinced Twilight understands what made Raripunk so fashionable a week ago.

    Take a moment to appreciate this beautiful rendering of Hayseed Swamp and the background artists who make vistas like these possible.

    I AM rather curious about why they have vulcanized rubber tires on the bollards way back there, though -- no, wait. Pony karting is totally a thing, that's right.

    I hope to someday have as much fun drawing backgrounds as whoever made this tree did.

    And oh hey Twilight's mane is back to normal! I'm pretty sure she and Starlight were just f---ing with Rarity last week about mane magic being way complicated. Fillies just got jealous of that weave.

    Fluttershy and doors continue to not get along.

    ... I'm one to believe that HNNNNNNNG thing is incredibly overused, being the old and crotchety fart I am, but I'm pretty sure I would absolve Fluttershy of most anything if she pulled this "whoops" face on me.

    "Easy to miss." Yeah, like this snarky side of Twilight's.

    Appreciate these backgrounds, folks. That mirror back there shows up later, and those flowers behind Fluttershy are disturbingly large.

    "Remember that time when we were all headed to Appleloosa and I told everyone I wanted to be a tree?"

    "Pony Jesus, Fluttershy, focus."

    And oh hey, talk about a fella who lives all alone in his abandoned ancestral home. Not threatening at all!

    Nifty that they brought back Coriander Cumin's body model for Cattail, anyhow.

    Even still, yeah, 'Shy. You're pushing it asking Cattail what he was doing inside the house you two casually waltzed into. You even left a sizeable hole outside the front door. Really, the gall.

    Are you a library experiencing performance problems and volume inadequacy? You may be suffering from a condition called low 🅱.

    (The 🅱 stands for "books.")


    You are now aware that this chipmunk has creepy little hands.

    So this is Meadowbrook! I'll be honest, when we first heard of her as being the unicorn creator of nine eight enchanted items from Starlight Glimmer Twilight, this wasn't the mare I had in mind. A purveyor of potions, and medicinal ones at that -- I'm really interested to see if the show or comics revisit her down the line and connect what I think are two fairly disparate callings.

    You're not going to hear me complain. Meadowbrook's a welcome breath of fresh air from Star Swirl's archmage archetype. I also really appreciate that they gave her the same eye style as Fluttershy's, just to tie the two even closer together. They've been doing work between the show and the comics to tie a Legend of Magic to each member of the Mane Six, and I have to say the cross-talk is an intriguing successor to inheriting the Elements of Harmony.

    Also, you probably knew about plague doctors and their masks by now, right?

    That's a fair number of familiar ponies in this historical lineup! Pokey Pierce, Golden Harvest, Cherry Berry, Linky... y'all probably recognize more than I do.

    They're all time travellers, of course.

    Meadowbrook had moves, y'all. I want to know about her exploits around Equestria, now, travelling with potions to heal and protect ponies from the untamed wilds of the realm. According to what I could find, her comic doesn't release until next month, I think.

    You know things have gotten serious when ponies kneel like that.

    There's something wrong with me if I think Fluttershy looks adorable while her body's busy not turning into a tree of pestilence. Doubly so if that's happening while she humblebrags about her special talent.

    I'm not sure what those bottles Fluttershy swiped off the shelves earlier was about, but she definitely had her head on straight enough to follow airborne pathogen safety protocols. Gotta admire the mare.

    Remember when this pony couldn't even kick over a vase?

    I'm really glad this episode took the time to show Fluttershy falling down more than once. It went a terrifically long way to sell just how exhausted she was by this point.

    Here Fluttershy finds herself wondering why this hive is still there after however much time it's been since Meadowbrook's disappearance. Awfully convenient. Too convenient.

    Yo hey, The Stare! Have we... seen it since Season 4?

    This isn't the time when I have to tell everyone what Fluttershy's Stare is, right? There's a basis set of episodes/character concepts all fans of the show can agree on and are aware of, isn't there?

    Actually kind of a serious and interesting question. Who's even reading these followups anymore, and if you're reading this, are you relatively new to the show?

    The Stare was not very effective...

    You really have to hand it to Fluttershy for all the punishment she's been through -- to make it this far on determination alone, and bonking.

    Just what did these two do while Fluttershy was out? I don't know what happened in this scene in particular, but they really sell that special flavor of Noodle Incident that I would've just glossed over in other places.

    "I be steppin' so fresh with the flair from Rarity / Scared of me? Shouldn't be, giggle at the ghostly! / I'm about to toast these letters like Spike / dragon spits legit flames to melt the mike, ri--"

    Move over, Maros and Swagberg, Fluttershy's bringing game. [Parental Advisory]

    Go ahead and stick your own caption in here.

    Nice to see Fluttershy welcoming Zecora back to (rhyming) health with a couple bars of her own. Get you a girl who can do it all -- talk to killer bees, ransack a castle library in a night, give you these eyes on the way to the soda shop, all that.

    Haha, it's this guy again! Oh dear, he came all this way into the Everfree Forest just to find Zecora? Yeah, this is decent payback for your callous clinic demeanor, jerk.

    Without reservation, this was one of the best episodes to come out of this season. It feels like something Lauren would have approved of (though granted, that Fluttershy would be nowhere near ready for a journey this important) -- Zecora acting as the alternate mission-giver for the girls, exploring parts known and unknown, danger and mystery, and coming back with an important lesson about taking care of one's self? Yeah, I'd say this episode checked off all of those boxes.

    And now there's so much I wanna talk about with these messed-up flowers and poison joke and plunder seeds and I think it was a great episode for reminding us all that the Everfree Forest has teeth yet.

    Thank you for reading. CouchCrusader, out.