• Editorial: Subtle Double-Take: Is Discord Still a Villain?

     Look Villains' Day! Great time to talk about my favorite character, Discord! But “He’s reformed!” someone in the future comments at the end of this to which I smile and remind them that “The good guys don’t plot against their friends for selfish intentions,” to which they respond, “But Discord meant well! He’s not evil,” and I reply, “I never said ‘evil’.” But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. 

    Grogar wasn't the big baddie at the end of the series, it's just Discord being counter-productive, again, leaving us to wonder why a reformed character is causing so much, well, chaos for ponies he supposedly cares about. So is Discord really just a bad friendship instructor or are there some villainous tendencies we’ve been overlooking?  

    Well, let’s wonder together as we take a double-take at one of our favorite villains gone soft and his potentially antagonistic motives in The Ending of the End. 

    It has been a while, hasn’t it? It’s not been a good year for recreational writing for me, but what better day to pop out of nowhere than on a day about villains. . . wait . . .anyway-

    So we could argue all day if what Discord did was good or not. 

    But the point Discord wants us to linger on is that he did it to help Twilight. To boost her confidence and let her know she can handle everything the universe throws at her. 

    Discord: This is what friendly leadership looks like, wouldn't you agree?

    However, while Discord’s intention may seem good, and I’m sure he meant them at least on a surface level; I want to argue a second reason Discord felt his actions were merited.  

    Why would Discord think this was a good idea when he’s had more than a few lessons in friendship by this point? 

    Discord: I think we can all agree this is somehow Spike's fault.

    This wasn’t Dizzy’s first rodeo in learning his actions can have unintended consequences. 

    If his ego wasn't so large, Discord may have come up with a solid plan B: dodge rainbow lasers!

    Nor was it his first time facing the fact that he can be outsmarted. Whether you love him or hate him, you have to admit Discord isn’t completely stupid and he can learn from past mistakes. 

    Look, my favorite moment of the episode. 

    The mane 6’s and princess’s reaction to the news that Discord had assembled 3 of Equestria’s most dangerous villains was well justified. Even with the noblest of intentions, it didn’t appear Discord had much reason to do what he did. 

    Discord doesn’t hang out with Rarity enough for them to assume he did things solely out of a heart of charity. 

    So to better understand what really might be going through Dizzy’s head it’s best to go back to the episode Keep Calm and Flutter On. 

    In order to teach Discord the value of friendship, he needed to experience it first. Fluttershy used a form of manipulation to get Discord to experience friendship.

    Fluttershy explains that the only reason she is being kind is that she believes it will get Discord to respond the way she wants. She was hoping that by experiencing the friendly feeling, even under a pretense, Discord would come to appreciate what friendship is.

    Fluttershy: If you wanna hang out with us cool kids, you better say something nice about friendship.

    And it worked! It also worked with Discord knowing full-well it was a strategic plan Fluttershy used on him. Yes, Fluttershy grew to appreciate Discord’s friendship for real over time, but in the episode, she and Discord both understood the contractual exchange of their friendship. 

    If Discord reigns in his chaos then he can have Flutters as a friend. 

    Therefore his first lesson in friendship was how to manipulate others into making better choices.

    Discord: Careful putting your fingers through the bars, some of them bite.

    It’s because of that manipulation Discord was eager to get out from under Fluttershy’s control. He liked her friendship, but not the power she had over him.

    He is the Lord of Chaos after all. Discord controls the most volatile magic in Equestria. He doesn’t want to lose that sense of control which means he’s going to have to master friendship to some degree.

    I mean, if someone threw me fanfare for cleaning their messes . . . Nah, I'd still be angry.
    Teaching lessons was an easy way for Discord to copy Fluttershy's method while at the same time getting away with causing a little chaos. 

    Even when he’s not actively trying to do good, Discord had it reassured to him that tricking and manipulating others with positive results is always forgivable. 

    This isn’t the motto of a hero, but more of an anti-villain. Discord strongly believes the ends justify the means. It's a worldview justified by several encounters he has with his friends.  

    Which is why it was so important that Twilight forgave Discord in Twilight’s Kingdom. Discord hadn’t had a friendship interaction that didn’t involve manipulation either on his part or his friends. 

    No Fluttershy saying, “And if you want to remain friends,” or threats of being turned to stone. Discord finally had a friendly interaction with no strings attached. 

    And at that moment Discord learned the true magic of friendship. Aww. But just because Twilight’s friendship isn’t manipulative doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. 

    Discord: The series has ended and I still don't have a throne; why is that?

    It’s worth noting that Discord honestly believes Twilight can overcome issues on her own; he just wants to be the reason she figured that out. 

    There he is, Mr. Equestria.

    Discord likes power. 

    Whether it’s suggesting he be made the ruler of Equestria again or hinting at the prospect of being head-mare, Discord hasn’t completely given up his thirst for control. 

    Even if it’s the power to make others feel better about themselves, he likes to know he's the one pulling the emotional strings. 

    "By ‘we’ I definitely mean you."

    In a land where friendship creates magical power and its teachers are hailed as heroes, it doesn’t take rocket science to see why Discord favors the teacher role. Just like Celestia’s mentorship to Twilight, Discord wants to have influence. 

    And while I could argue that being influential over the highest ruler in Equestria is to have control over Equestria itself; Discord’s motives aren’t that extreme. He just wants the power to teach friendship to the Princess of Friendship. 

    Look how clever Discord thinks he is.

    Discord values friendship and the joy it brings. He’s not pure evil and I do think his overall intentions are admirable. But that’s why he’s constantly falling into the antagonistic role.

    Because Discord thinks the ending will be overall beneficial to everypony, he doesn’t care how he does things. He’ll never see the shortcomings of his plans because he thinks a) his plans are foolproof and b) he's a master manipulator.

    Just because Discord wants understandable goals, doesn’t mean he can do whatever he wants to achieve them. He's not a "good guy" just because the audience can relate to his feels.  

    But when Discord can’t manipulate a situation in his favor, he’s quick to snap (Get it, like, his chaos magic comes from snapping and ‘ to snap’ can mean to get angry. Yeah, y’all got it).

    And his elementary levels of empathy make it hard for him to understand what he’s doing is wrong. But he is wrong, often playing the main antagonist or soft villain in many episodes.

    Discord: See how I made Twilight more confident? Best friend ever right here.

    While Discord did help Twilight gain the confidence to beat Sombra, It's Discord's fault there's a problem at all. Being able to teach something makes Dizzy feel like he's mastered friendship instead of being a novice student.

    Friendship requires Discord to do the hard task of exploring his feelings and being vulnerable.  

    He may be reformed, but he’s no hero. He’s not comfortable when he’s not in control and he lacks the empathy to understand the consequences of setting no standards for friendship lessons. He’s not malicious, but you know what they say about good intentions paving the way to Tartarus. 

    He wants to be great and loved, which are good goals, but he uses undesirable methods to get there.

    So much for that whole "I don't turn ponies into stone" nonsense.

    He’s forever going to be chaotic, but that doesn't mean he can't learn to seek the benefit of others even at the expense of his total control over them. He does want to be friends, and he did want to help Twilight. It's just hard to be the Lord of Chaos and a force for good all the time.

    So what do you think? Is Discord still teetering on the edge of villain /anti-villain or am I so off base I should go back to spending all my free time on fanfiction?

    Trick question, because I just became an auntie this morning! So I'm spending free time with my sweet baby nephew! And y'all needed to know about it because EVERY creature needs to hear about it. Did I just write a whole article to have an excuse to tell people about my nephew? Maybe! I'm really happy, y'all!