As the episode begins, Cheerilee's class takes a field trip to the world-famous sculpture garden over in Canterlot. While Cheerilee discusses the various statues, the Cutie Mark Crusaders lag behind and get into arguments. They catch up once the class reaches a statue of a draconequus, a Mix-and-Match Critter who represents discord. As the CMC scuffle in front of it, the statue begins to shake and something within it throbs, which goes unnoticed by Cheerilee. Probably because she's too busy assigning the girls an essay as punishment. As the class moves on, a crack forms in the statue, followed by evil laughter...
Back in Ponyville, Rainbow Dash's flight is interrupted by a strange, pink cloud that turns out to be made of cotton candy. Despite Dash's protests that it isn't supposed to rain until the next day, the cloud starts pouring down (say it with me) chocolate rain. Her attempts to corral the cloud only chase it and others like it toward Applejack's farm, where the farmpony is harvesting corn. She demands to know what's going on, and though Dash doesn't know, she vows not to leave until she has the clouds under control. Meanwhile, all the ears of corn spontaneously combust, filling the field with corn, much to Pinkie Pie's delight. Somehow news of this reached Rarity already, and so she busted out her rain ensemble and came over to see if there's anything she can do, but not really. And especially not when all the apples grow to gigantic proportions, immediately prompting all the squirrels, and even Fluttershy's bunny Angel, to chow down. Before Fluttershy has a chance to call them off, all the rabbits in the vicinity suddenly sprout giraffe legs. By this time, Twilight Sparkle has a new spell at the ready that she promises will fix everything, but despite her best efforts, it does nothing.
et all the clouds in one spot, Applejack tie them up, and Fluttershy use reverse psychology on the animals to get them to eat the clouds. Just as Twilight declares victory due to teamwork, Spike belches up a message from Princess Celestia, summoning all of them to Canterlot immediately.
Things must be grim, as Celestia is actually worried. She silences Twilight's questions with a hoof, and then leads them down a hall of stained glass windows. She explains that Discord, the trickster spirit, has returned. It seems that he was the previous ruler of Equestria who delighted in the misery of his subjects, and was ousted by Celestia and Luna using the Elements of Harmony. They turned him to stone, but now that they're no longer connected to the Elements of Harmony, he was able to break free. Celestia calls on Twilight and her friends to defeat him this time, since they're the new wielders of Harmony. Twilight starts to tell her to count on them, but Pinkie Pie has an objection. She points out that Discord may be bringing eternal chaos to Equestria, but he created (say it with me) chocolate rain, so he can't be all bad, right? Her objection is denied, so Celestia opens the magical lock on the door to Canterlot Tower, where the Elements are currently housed. She opens the box, proclaiming her confidence in Twilight and her friends, only to find it empty! While the others are in shock, Pinkie Pie blithely saunters out to partake once again of the chocolate puddles. (She's back by the end of the commercial break, though.)
Once the ponies reach the maze, Rainbow Dash decides to bypass it entirely by just flying over, only to find her wings suddenly gone. Fluttershy's, too. Not to mention Rarity and Twilight's horns. With a flash of light, Discord finally makes his appearance, and can't help cackling, "You should see the looks on your faces!" Twilight demands he return their respective wings and horns, but Discord declines, stating that he only took them to even the playing field. Their finding the Elements is a game, complete with rules, including that if anyone doesn't play, he wins by default. He wishes them luck and disappears just as suddenly as he appeared.
Despite their setback, Twilight is still optimistic. After all, what challenge can't they face as long as they're together? The six ponies enter the maze, and immediately hedges spring up, separating them. Twilight calls over the hedges for them to head for the center to regroup, and they're off. Applejack makes good progress until she spots three apples lying on the ground. The apples start to roll, so she follows after them, and ends up in an apple orchard. She's soon surrounded by three piles of apples, which form into faces and introduce themselves as the Keepers of the Grove of Truth. They tell her she may ask them one question, but she may not like the answer. Though she has her misgivings, Applejack just has to know: what's the outcome of their quest? The keepers lead her to a lake, and she sees a vision of her friends calling it quits. Shocked by this, she's easily swayed by Discord, who hypnotizes her through the Keepers, telling her that the truth hurts, but a lie is comfort. As she turns grey, the orchard disappears, and part of the hedge opens, just as Twilight passes by. She's glad to see her friend, but confused at AJ's strange behavior.
As she frolics, one of the balloons trips her up and she falls in a puddle of mud. Suddenly the laughter turns nasty, and Pinkie wonders what's going on. Discord shows up, since she, like he, appreciates a good laugh, but Pinkie explains that the balloons are laughing at her, rather than with her, and that's no good. Discord, now also a balloon, doesn't see the difference, pointing out that her friends laugh at her all the time. As he spins her head around, the laughter swells, and the voices of her friends (as well as their balloon likenesses) join in, until Pinkie just can't take it anymore. Discord hypnotizes her directly, turning her grey and mirthless. As the balloons in the background pop, the exit is revealed, with Twilight and Applejack standing right there. Again, Twilight is glad to see Pinkie, and chalks her odd attitude to stress.
Rarity, meanwhile, literally bumps into three of the most beautiful diamonds she's ever seen. Discord appears in each one and hypnotizes her with its sheen. However, she's able to shake it off, probably because there wasn't as much build up as Pinkie Pie and Applejack's. But she doesn't last long, and as she chips away at the rocks surrounding the diamonds, she, too, turns grey. The three diamonds turn out to be one enormous gem, which she heaves onto her back just as a nearby column of rock crumbles, revealing Twilight, Applejack and Pinkie Pie. Which also reveals that Discord's played a particularly nasty trick this time, as what Rarity thought was a giant gem is actually a boulder. The four ponies continue on, with Rarity warning them all not to touch her "diamond."
As for Fluttershy, she's been having a particularly hard time of it, jumping at every little sound, so when she spots three butterflies, she's relieved, and follows them to a crossroads. The butterflies, with the heads of Discord, address her, pointing out she's been left behind by her friends, but Fluttershy is not perturbed, certain her friends are looking for her. The Discord-butterflies continue to needle her, but Fluttershy rebuffs them each time, until finally Discord gets so frustrated that he just zaps her into being grey and cruel, no hypnotism at all. The hedge wall falls, and Twilight hopes for best as she approaches Fluttershy, but instead gets snide remarks and a tail whip.
a wayward cloud shooting rainbow lightning bolts, and figuring it's a disguised Element, takes off after it. The cloud leads her to Discord, hanging out on a cloud hammock, and she challenges him to a hooffight. He claims he just has a message for her: "The foundations of home will crumble without you." He shows her a vision of Cloudsdale falling to pieces, which is enough for his hypnotism to work on her. He offers her a box with her wings and tells her she can either take them or keep wandering the maze. Meanwhile, the other ponies continue to make their way toward the center. Twilight holds out the hope that once they find Rainbow Dash, their team will once again gel. However, Applejack spots Rainbow Dash flying off into the distance, and as Twilight wonders how that could have happened, the sky clouds over and the entire maze disappears. Discord appears before them, complaining that "someone" broke the rules, meaning the game is over. He returns the remaining horns and wings and crows over his victory. To be continued....
One thing I will say, this episode felt kind of rushed. Even as a two-parter, there's a lot crammed into this, what with the CMC bit at the beginning, the teamwork, the exposition, and then the corruption maze.
Creepy Discord is creepy
Discord pulls the strings
Grey Pinkie, Applejack, and Rarity