This reminded me of a “Brady Bunch” episode once. Anyway, Spike has invited Dragon Lord Ember to Ponyville—as well as Changeling pack leader Thorax. The former is seeking friendship advice from Spike since the dragons’ competitive nature is a bit of hindrance. The latter wants to talk to Spike because he’s having a hard time with a pack of changelings who still prefer to feed off love. Spike is deathly afraid that neither will get along with each other and cause a war. This becomes Spike’s friendship problem to solve.
So, Spike (with the help of Twilight and Starlight) go out of their way to make sure Ember and Thorax do not see each other. After several awkward moments, the Thorax and Ember meet each other and nearly come to blows before Spike admits that trying to keep them apart fearing they would not get along. Ember thinking that because she’s “bad at friendship” and Thorax thinking that he may be too soft.
Actually, Thorax and Ember do get along on their own. Ember gives Thorax a lesson on being more assertive when enforcing rules of his pack and Thorax giving Ember lessons about talking about her feelings (what she didn’t like to do in “Gauntlet of Fire”). And then Spike learns a lesson about trusting his friends would get along with each other and his scales glow which means his friendship problem is solved.
About those awkward moments, some of them were funny. For example, Ember getting used to Pony customs and also mistaking Starlight and Twilight with each other. Of course, Twilight’s scene with the chairs was funny as well. However, this whole episode was weird with one awkward moment after another. It’s when Thorax and Ember have time alone that they start to click. It’s about giving them space to learn friendship and that was something Spike (and indirectly Twilight and Starlight) was not giving them. They are actually good in this episode, it’s Spike that was a bit iffy until late.
Nevertheless, it’s not a terrible episode, it’s good because of and despite some awkward moments from all the characters involved.
715 – “Triple Threat”
Written by: Josh Hamilton
“Spike accidentally invites Ember and Thorax to Ponyville on the same day. He’s sure the two new leaders are not going to get along so he does all he can to keep them apart and cover the fact that the other is there.“
So yes, “Fame and Misfortune” is a controversial episode for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is how the episode might have been targeting certain fans who are overly nitpicking, super judgmental, and basically being a “Quibble Pants” (pun and reference to “Stranger Than Fan Fiction” intended).
Let’s set something straight right off the bat. This is not targeting the fandom as a whole. Most fans do appreciate the show for what it is and there are fans that appreciate the show for displaying the Mane Six’s flaws and how the develop over time. No pony is perfect and the song did a great job in expressing that. But yes, some in the fandom do treat and over-analyze the show like it were the NFL or [insert Oscar-winning film here]. It is not either of those things.
There is also the lesson for the show staff in the episode. While they may not be able to change certain people’s attitudes towards episodes (and towards themselves occasionally), they can change the way they deal with such criticism. Granted, that didn’t occur in the episode until late, but it is still a good lesson.
Twilight had the best of intention about publishing the journal, but the best laid plans of mice and ponies go often askew. That leads to another frustration about the episode and the show as a whole—that fans ignore the lessons from the episode in favor of being overly critical and/or, worse, confronting show staff on social media about it. That is something I have addressed before and something I’ll likely have to address again.
Should we take the lessons from the show a bit more to heart? Actually, look around the world for a minute and answer that question yourself. Also, ask yourself this, “Why have so many people, both then and now, been drawn to the show to begin with?” I’ve also said previously that sometimes we need a reminder of why we watch this show to begin with.
I was at BronyCon last weekend I cannot help but feel that despite there not being as many people as there were the last two years, there was still a feeling of great positivity even if it was mostly negative outside the Baltimore Convention Center. Ask yourself this question: Why should “Friendship is Magic” be criticized for trying to teach morals while shows like “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” are lionized for their cynicism and boorish “humor”.
Yes, there are always consequences when you put your story/thoughts out that that someone will disagree with you and not be the most mature about it. Indeed, there are ways for me to deal with that and some are most professional than others, but just remember that the episode in question was not tarring the fandom as a whole with the same brush. Most fans are appreciative of the show and have been inspired from the show and fan content it has spun off. (One frequent comment at BronyCon last weekend was how there was so much talent around.) There are prices to being famous, but some people can be taxing excessively through being super judgmental.
Remember that Friendship Journal and that Twilight hoped that one day other ponies could learn from her and the Mane Six. Well, that day came in this episode and if “Slice of Life” was a thank you to the fans, this episode is somewhere between a “Take That” and “WTF” to certain parts of the fandom (including those who review the show).
Where to even begin with this? There were critiques about how Fluttershy was learning the same lesson over and over (back in Season Four) and Fluttershy going to great lengths to show how more confident she’s become in this Season Seven episode. There was a critique about how “Twilight was better without wings” which I suppose was a shout-out to those who are so “Quibble Pants” about everything since “Magical Mystery Cure”. Of course, this episode was written by MA Larson–more than two years after he wrote his last episode, “Amending Fences”.
It seems there is a great deal of frustration in ponies (and fans of the show) who do not make an attempt to learn from the friendship lesson and descend into petty arguments such as who is best pony and other critiques of the show. Worse, the crowd outside the castle are still going at it by the episode’s end. The other lesson in this is a good one in that you can change how you deal with these things and you can take solace with those who do take the friendship lessons to heart as Starlight showed with Toola-Roola and Coconut Cream.
So yes, there will be many mixed reactions to this episode, and this episode aired during the weekend of BronyCon (which is likely a coincidence). My reaction is that it’s an okay episode, but left too many things out there like how Rarity is getting neg-repped via cancelled orders and the other ponies in the worst they have behaved perhaps ever in the series. The song was appropriate and the secondary lesson of how to deal with harsh (and sometimes unwarranted) criticism is one the show staff could use as well. At the same time, and this is something I have touched upon before, some fans could do well to actually apply the friendship lessons themselves rather than get into petty arguments like the ones seen here in this episode.
There are lessons for all of us here, and sometimes they can be pretty harsh as they were here.
714 – “Fame and Misfortune”
Written by: M.A. Larson
“Twilight Sparkle’s publishing of the friendship journal has unintended consequences when ponies start to argue over who wrote the best lessons.“