Friday, December 31, 2010

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Episode Ten

So this one isn't exactly one of my favorites.  Not necessarily a bad episode, but not quite up to par, IMO.
Swarm of the Century (or The Problem with Parasprites)
While out picking flowers, Fluttershy finds a flying insect she's never seen before.  Ever the caregiver, she crushes an apple for it to eat, only for it to devour the entire basket of apples.  Blinded by the cuteness, Fluttershy not only lets it nestle in her hair, but takes it back to town to show her friends.  Meanwhile, Twilight Sparkle is freaking out: Princess Celestia is coming for a visit, and the library is still covered in books!  She lays the blame on Spike, but Spike retorts that if she'd read the books one at time, she wouldn't be in this literal mess.  He also suggests that the cleaning would go faster if there weren't two of them getting in each others' way, so Twilight Sparkle leaves him to clean while she checks on how the rest of the town's preparations are coming.
Unimpressed by a banner reading "Welcome, Princess Celest," but pleased by a perfect patch of flowers, Twilight moves at a quick clip.  Over at the bakery, the Cakes' preparations are hampered by Pinkie Pie taste-testing everything they make, much to Twilight Sparkle's horror.  But all horror is forgotten when Fluttershy arrives and shows off her new find, which has suddenly become three insects rather than one.  Twilight offers to take one, as she's never seen one before.  Pinkie, however, reacts with revulsion at these "parasprites" and goes off to find a trombone.  Twilight writes this off as Pinkie Pie being Pinkie Pie, and she continues on her inspection.  Her next stop is Rarity's fashion boutique, where Rainbow Dash is grudgingly getting fancified for Princess Celestia's visit.  After praising Rarity's work, Twilight's parasprite makes itself known (and has also mysteriously become three), and Rainbow Dash and Rarity are also smitten, completely ignoring Pinkie Pie's request for an accordion.
By the end of the day, the library is sparkly clean, but Twilight still worries about the rest of the town, since the Princess' visit is tomorrow.  Her worries are allayed by the pure cuteness of Spike and the parasprite sleeping together, and she heads to bed.  The next morning, however, brings plenty to worry about, as Twilight Sparkle awakes to find the library filled with trouble-making parasprites.  Her and Spike's efforts to round them up seem to be fruitless.  Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash finds herself in a similar predicament, with a gaggle of parasprites that can't keep themselves away from her, much to her consternation.  Only Rarity actually seems to be making the best of the parasprites endless multiplying, by putting them to work in her shop, though her adoration ends when she sees the way they reproduce.
On her way to getting rid of the parasprites, Rarity runs into Pinkie Pie, who managed to get a harmonica and laments that she still has so many instruments still to get.  She tries to get Rarity's help, but Rarity informs her she has a real problem to deal with.  "You've got a real problem, all right," Pinkie replies, "and a banjo is the only answer!"  Shortly after that, Rarity runs into Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash, who both had the idea to take the parasprites to Fluttershy, since she's the resident animal expert, with the hopes of learning how to keep them from multiplying.  But one look at Fluttershy's home is all it takes to see that she's had no better luck than they have.
Seeing that not even Fluttershy can stop the parasprites, Twilight imagines Princess Celestia's visit being ruined by the bugs, but what can they do?  Applejack arrives on the scene with a bushel of apples for Fluttershy, which are instantly devoured by the parasprites.  So Twilight calls on Applejack to use her superior herding skills to drive the bugs back into the Everfree Forest.  With that many bugs to wrangle, Applejack needs all their help, and so between the five of them, they corral the bugs (with a brief interlude for Pinkie Pie to try and get their help finding a tuba and maracas) straight into the forest.  With congratulations all around, the ponies head back to Fluttershy's house to convene and then clean up any messes made by the 'sprites.  Unfortunately, Fluttershy completely borked their efforts by keeping just one.
There's no time to round them up again, so Rainbow Dash pulls out her official weather patrol goggles and creates a tornado to suck up all the parasprites and deposit them in the forest.  It looks like the problem is solved, until Pinkie Pie shows up with a set of cymbals, which also get sucked up.  Dodging the cymbals breaks Rainbow Dash's cycle, and she loses control of the tornado, sending the bugs directly to Ponyville!  Twilight berates Pinkie for ruining their efforts to get rid of the bugs, and Pinkie tries to retort that she's not the ruiner, they are, but gets caught up in the semantics.  With no time to spare, the others run off, leaving Pinkie to complain about them not listening to her.
Back in town, the other ponies are initially quite taken with the parasprites's cuteness, until the bugs start eating everything in sight.  No cafe, food stand, or garden is safe.  Seeing this, Applejack runs off to protect her orchard, leaving the others on their own.  Twilight comes up with the idea to use her magic to stop the bugs from eating the food, and casts a mass brainwashing spell.  Unfortunately, this has the unexpected side effect of making the bugs eat everything else.  Rarity immediately sees the implication this has for all her fashion designs and rushes off to her shop.  But it's too late, they're already there and making a meal out of her outfits.  Pinkie Pie rushes in with a cry of "I'll save you!" but all she does is take a flute from a nearby table and run off again.
In the mean time, Applejack has gotten the rest of her family prepared to defend the apple orchard, unaware of the parasprites change of appetite.  So it's quite a surprise when the bugs devour the whole barn.  Twilight finds herself similarly surprised to find the parasprites literally eating the words right out of her books.  With no other hope, she grabs one of the parasprites and makes for Zecora's house in the Everfree Forest, interrupting the zebra's meditation.  She, however, has no answers for Twilight Sparkle, and the unicorn is literally out of time, as she spots Princess Celestia's coach already on its way.
The princess' imminent arrival and the unstoppable chaos in town cause Twilight to finally lose it, offering a last ditch effort plan: build an exact replica of Ponyville in the remaining minute before the princess gets there.  But the sound of a fanfare brings her back, and she assumes the princess' procession has begun, meaning she's truly doomed.  However, it turns out to be Pinkie Pie, having finally gotten all her instruments together and turned herself into a one-pony band.  She starts to berate the pink pony for ignoring the situation they're in, until she notices that the parasprites are paying attention to the song and following Pinkie Pie out of town.
Twilight and her friends follow Pinkie and manage to intercept Princess Celestia before she makes it to town.  The princess interprets Pinkie's pied piper routine as a parade in her honor, and Twilight quickly assures her that, yes, it's a parade.  Twilight's face is further saved when she hears that the Princess actually can't stay, as she has to help handle an "infestation" in Fillydelphia.  But she can stick around long enough to hear Twilight's latest report on Friendship.  Twilight, of course, hasn't had any time to observe the properties of Friendship, what with all the parasprite business, but the sight of Pinkie Pie's music guiding the bugs into the Everfree Forest gives her an idea, at least.  So she tells the princess that she's learned it's a good idea to listen to all your friends' opinions, even the cloudcuckoolanders.  Princess Celestia gives this her seal of approval and then flies off to Fillydelphia.
By this time, all the parasprites have been safely delivered to the Everfree Forest, so Pinkie can finally stop playing.  The other ponies tell her the Princess has flown off to deal with an infestation, and Pinkie is ready to help out, since she knows the secret to getting rid of parasprites.  But Twilight is certain that the princess has more than enough magic to handle the problem.  The other marvel that Pinkie Pie actually knew what the parasprites were, and she's all "Why'd you think I was trying to get all these instruments?"  The others apologize for not taking the time to listen to her, and Twilight thanks her for saving her reputation and the town.  However, that statement is only half-true, as the town is still pretty much ruined.  And so Pinkie closes things out with a trombone wail.
I have to say, this is the first episode that didn't "do" it for me.  I think part of the reason is that the episode tipped its hat too early by making it obvious that Pinkie Pie had the solution all along, while still trying to make it seem like a surprise at the end.  And it was frustrating how the lesson was "listen to your friends," when Pinkie Pie didn't exactly do that great of a job explaining why she needed all the instruments, and instead just expected her friends to get her drift immediately.  Granted, this has been shown to be part of Pinkie's personality (as in the whole *gasp run away* moment in the first episode), but it's also been shown that she can explain when she needs to (such as telling Rainbow Dash why not prank Fluttershy in "Griffon the Brush-Off").  Furthermore, I was hoping for some explanation of why only Pinkie Pie knew what parasprites are and how to get rid of them.  I mean, not even Twilight Sparkle, who loves nothing more than to study anything and everything, knew what they were (and strangely enough, there was no scene of her frantically searching her books for an answer, like there usually is).  Does this mean that Pinkie Pie grew up somewhere else?  Is that why she's (apparently) staying with The Cakes?  Perhaps this will come up in another episode, but I doubt it.
Now, the strength of most FiM episodes, in my opinion, is that they can take a cliche plot or lesson and tell it in a way that's feels new or at least is a lot of fun to watch.  This episode, however, doesn't really have that for me.  I didn't enjoy it more on the rewatch, as I did with Dragonshy (knowing Fluttershy was going to kick some dragon tail at the end made her waffling more palatable along the way) and I can't pick out any particular scenes I'd want to rewatch, as I usually can with the other episodes.  Even "Griffon the Brush-Off," my previous least favorite, has the fun prank scenes at the beginning.  True, there are a few good lines, and obviously I was able to get as many screenshots out of it as I do with most of the episodes, but this isn't enough to salvage it for me.
With any luck, this episode will remain my least favorite, and the episodes to come will be better.

Misc. Screenshots:
Twilight loves her parasprite
Everyone's reaction to Fluttershy keeping "just one"
Surveying the damage
Nice job breaking it, Twilight
More crazy Twilight

1 comment:

Ryan Ferneau said...

It's pretty funny now how, thanks to a certain musical choice, "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" does allow us to infer a reason for Pinkie Pie knowing about parasprites.

I'm going to formulate a new rule for this show: If Twilight Sparkle dismisses something, it will surely turn out to be the key to everything. Let's see how well it holds next season!