The Ultimate Nachos by Iguanodragon
605 – “Gauntlet of Fire”
Written by: Joanna Lewis & Kristine Songco
“In order to save his friends, Spike is forced to compete in a perilous Gauntlet for the title of Dragon Lord.“
The MLP Facebook page has put up a clip for Saturday’s episode. Check it out after the break.
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Let’s cut to the chase. The A-plot is that Blythe and Zoe are going to help train Eliza’s dog Leah Rose to win the Upper Crust Pure-Bred Dog Show. A show that Zoe is barred from because her breed was deemed “too wild.” Predictable, Zoe has the resolve of an over-competitive flag football player harboring memories of being cut from the varsity football team. The problem with Leah Rose is that she is not interested in winning the competition, in fact she wants to throw it. More on that later.
The B-plot is Wiggles the alligator returning to the day camp, and he is now a self-help specialist—also with predictable results. You have the trust gag as only Sunil and Vinnie can perform it, Pepper and Penny Ling establishing the art of going second, and Minka going ape trying to manifest the want of wanting a banana. Russell is of course skeptical and we get the truth is that Wiggles was using the self-help book to help with talking to a girl alligator at his camp. Cue the pets telling Wiggles to just be himself.
Back to the A-plot, we learn why Leah Rose doesn’t want to go through with the show, she is not a pure-bred Landingham-Pekinese. She is a mixed-breed and is worried that Eliza might disown her if she found out. The judges and Eliza do find out after Leah Rose does go ahead with the show, but Eliza is Ok with her dog. Indeed, they create a new mixed-breed category for her.
So two stories about being yourself. The B-plot worked it a bit better than the A-plot. The A-plot lost focus a bit as it seemed like it would turn into a Zoe to win through training exercise. Blythe would certainly win for being duped into doing dog tricks by Zoe. However, the A-plot dragged a bit. The B-plot had its moments, but it couldn’t carry the entire episode. Nine episodes to go.
Pluses and Minuses:
- + Both plots focus on the same theme.
- + Wiggles returns.
- – A-plot loses focus at times
- – Biskit Twins are extraneous
- GRADE: B-
So what do they do next? That’s the question facing the Cutie Mark Crusaders in this episode. They first decide to continue helping others defining their destinies and callings in life, but that’s few and far between in Ponyville. In some cases, very fleeting as displayed with Bulk Biceps.
So, the three decide that they can do what fancies them individually, and that’s when this becomes an Apple Bloom episode. She struggles on that question mightily while Sweetie Belle tries crocheting and Scootaloo tries bungie jumping. Apple Bloom tries dancing, but the instructor feels she has more potential as a soloist, like a student called Tender Tops. She gets distraught at the idea that she and her fellow CMCs are not doing things together anymore, so she thinks. But Scootaloo never said such thing and she and Sweetie Belle tell her that you don’t have to be good at it to try something fun and being good at something isn’t always fun, either. Nice moral.
So, they try to help Tender Tops with his problem. He has stage fright. Sweetie Belle handles the “costumes,” Scootaloo with the set design, and Apple Bloom shows him that he looks good as a dancer compared to Apple Bloom. So, Tender Tops dancing like he can and gets his cutie mark. The CMC decide that they’ll be three times as likely to find a pony in need of their help by trying things on their own. And so begins the new phase in the CMC’s adventure.
The lesson is very strong and helps carry the episode. However, the episode seemed a bit out of focus at times and there was a bit of mood whiplash with that scene of Apple Bloom in the dark. Outside of that, it did answer the question of what the CMC do next and there are some possibilities on that end in the future. In addition to exploring new lands this season (so the theme “Explore Equestria” goes), there’s also an exploration of what’s next for the ponies (and baby dragon) we know and love. That’s where the show has the potential to excel right now. For this episode, a strong lesson, and question answered, and it could’ve used a bit more focus.
Pluses and Minuses:
- + Strong moral
- + Answers the question of what’s next.
- + Easter eggs galore
- – Episode loses focus at times
Stats of the Episode: This is the first time in show history that none of the Mane Six make an appearance. Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy made three straight non-appearances in Season Five (“Rarity Investigates!,” “Made in Manehattan,” and “Brotherhooves Social”). Spike had three no-shows in a row in Season Two (“Hearts and Hooves Day,” “A Friend in Deed,” and “Putting Your Hoof Down”)