Don’t judge a book by its cover, even if that cover wreaked havoc upon your country and life.
Come along, children, for today we are going to learn about the importance of second chances and the general illogic that Celestia uses to rule Equestria, for yea they are all but subjects the fickle whims of an absolute monarchy. Where are the communist peasants when they are needed?
We open with 4/6 (you mean 2/3, Doc) (yeah, well, which one of us passed calculus, Res?) of the girls and Spike awaiting Princess Celestia’s arrival in Ponyville. She’s bringing an important guest with her… and that guest is none other than Season 2 premier villain, Discord. Twilight, instead of being her usual brown-nosing self with the Princess, demands to know why he’s been brought to Ponyville. Somehow duty to country (and, dare I say, logic?) is surpassing duty to monarch in importance. The revolution is at hand!
Princess Celestia acknowledges that last time he was de-stoned Discord created a lot of… havoc (missing an obvious opportunity to be redundant); Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Pinkie all point out that this is a gross understatement. Our Dear Leader, however, wants to harness Discord’s magic “for good” (read: for the good of ODL, whatever that is) and she wants the Mane Six’s help in this. She’s brought along the Elements of Harmony as a failsafe should Discord prove unruly, which, you know, duh. Res thinks this episode should have been named “The Manehattan Project” or possibly “Los Discordos” because of how ODL wants to “harness” Discord's “magic”. Probably to use on whatever the Equestrian equivalent of Japan is.
Fluttershy, our main hope for Discord’s rehabilitation, and Apple Jack, our varmint-hating farmer gal, are meanwhile having an argument with a beaver about a dam on Sweet Apple Acres. Fluttershy successfully mediates the dispute, to emphasise her general kindness to the viewer. RD, with her usual subtlety and aplomb, summons them to the audience with Princess Celestia, who tells Fluttershy it’s mostly up to her to fix Discord's personality discorder. Um, I mean disorder. (Says Doc: boooooo! Pun, boooooo.)
The girls don their elements, and in a very Sailor Moon-y scene (they're even mostly unclothed), release Discord from his stone prison. He promptly turns adorable woodland creatures into terrifying monsters, just to show that prison hasn't improved his outlook. Fluttershy just as promptly applies her notorious “stare,” but it has no effect on Discord. Twi Sparks threatens him with the elements, and Discord complies with Celestia's plan, albeit reluctantly and with the added insurance of turning some nearby beavers into demon-beavers. (Not included: uncouth reference to alternative meaning of “beaver.”)
Discord is staying with Fluttershy, on Angel’s place on the couch. We’re then treated to seeing Angel get some karma bitch-slapping, which admittedly doesn’t make me dislike Discord any more or less. Fluttershy vows to befriend him in order to fulfil Celestia's plan. Twi Sparks is dubious of this method, but pledges her support nonetheless.
Fluttershy starts by trying to give Discord some space. I’m not sure if that is really the best option for “step one” here, but to each their own. He’s munching on paper, which she chooses to ignore. Once Fluttershy leaves, Discord confesses to Angel (with a little more semi-deserved torment) that he’s playing her for a fool.
TwiSparks is trying to find a spell for reforming Discord, but all her spellbooks are missing the pages containing the pertinent magic; that’s what Discord was chomping on earlier. She heads to Fluttershy’s to tell her about his tricks (illusions, Michael! Tricks are something a whore does for money!), but it's hard to get inside since he’s got her cabin in the air, spinning around and around and declaring with fake (incredibly fake) sincerity that he’s going to change. Keep in mind he’s saying this while everything in her house is tumbling like a front-loading dryer. Fluttershy is encouraged despite Twilight's story, and invites the girls to a dinner party.
Discord has helped with the party, setting the table and cleaning up a bit. However, he’s obviously lobbying to keep the girls away from the EoH, so as Twi says, “Hang on to your elements, girls, it’s gonna be a bumpy night.” I like that phrase, I may use it. (Res is down with this.)
Discord plays a series of tricks throughout dinner- he turns a gravy boat into an animate, puppy-like object, which pours hot gravy in RD’s lap when she comments on its creepiness; he makes dancing candlesticks that also abuse RD when she claims he’s being a distraction; he turns a fish-shaped soup tureen into a soup-spouting anti-racism machine. This is easily the most exciting dinner party television has ever seen. Despite all this, Fluttershy continues to defend him while none of the others will give him a chance. Fluttershy claims she’s sticking up for him because they’re friends now. Angel interrupts the evening to mime the fact that Sweet Apple Acres is flooded.
Indeed, the possessed beavers have built a bunch of dams, flooding the land at Discord’s behest. The girls ask Fluttershy if she really thinks he’s innocent, and she says that even she isn’t that naïve (though the other girls seem unconvinced by that); she just wanted him to trust her and therefore listen to her commands to not be chaotic. It's important to note that you shouldn't befriend people with the idea of changing them, children. That's how Fluttershy ended up in an abusive relationship with her pet. She tests out her seemingly flawed plan by demanding Discord’s drain the flood and exorcize the beavers. He agrees on the condition that she never uses her EoH against him. She acquiesces, and he promptly turns the water to ice.
Fluttershy is incensed, though Discord is his usual dismissive self. He offers her ice skates so she can join in his fun, and almost simultaneously Spike runs up with her EoH to turn Discord back to stone. She does not break her promise, but she does get angry when Discord gloats over his triumph. He thinks that because they’re “friends” he will always be safe from her. She throws the skates and marches off, and he goes on a rant, asking rhetorically if she really thought he’d listen to her just because she was the one friend he ever had. Which he realises might have been the point. He looks sadly at the skates she’s thrown down, saying, “Well played, Fluttershy, well played,” because not-so-secretly this show is written for people on the internet and we’re the ones with the power and the memes.
Discord fixes Sweet Apple Acres and all is swell again. Discord agrees to mostly use his magic for good instead of evil, though I’m not convinced that working for ODL is necessarily an improvement on the good/evil morality scale. We get Discord to admit that friendship is magic, and learn a very valuable lesson about second chances.
Meanwhile, the Res vomits over her patio balcony because REALLY WRITERS? This is a kids' show, and I'm sure every once in a while you have to cow-tow to the traditional kids' show tropes, but there is no way that Discord starts being nice just because he has one friend. Doc agrees, and posits an alternative version of this episode that involves a Beauty and the Beast-esque montage of Fluttershy teaching Discord how to be a good person/creature/thing. Then again, with Discord on her side, ODL is potentially unstoppable, and Doc would love to see an episode in which she falls into madness and rules Canterlot with an iron (and also malevolent) fist.
The Res is going to go watch “Wonderbolt Academy” on repeat for a while. Peace, suckers.
The Doc apologises that we still can’t get through this without Supernatural references. We're working on it.