The jetstream has brought us an interesting new episode of your favorite horse cartoon. The latest episode of Friendship is Magic, “It Ain’t Easy Being Breezies,” aired on the Hub on March 1, 2014, It’s a breezified version of the Taking a seat at the Round Table are ComradeCosmobot, Factory Factory, Dexanth, Frosthawk, and KefkaFloyd. Read on to join the breeze.
KefkaFloyd: So let’s get this out of the way first: Breezies! Another in a long line of early gen references that the team has taken and put their own spin on the concept.
ComradeCosmobot: Coming from a background where I haven’t really gone out of my way to check out earlier gens, I can say that the breezies fit into the universe pretty well. There were a few bumps on the way (how ridiculously frail they were tested my suspension of disbelief) but I think the concept was pretty sound and executed well.
Factory Factory: I also hadn’t heard of breezies before seeing this episode. My first reaction on seeing them was “That’s an obvious toy tie-in.” It felt a little like a Twilight’s Brother moment – brand new to me, yet treated as just a little too well-known to the cast.
Dexanth: I figured for the longest time they were a recast of Flutter Ponies as my G1 knowledge isn’t that great! The in-show manifestation was aesthetically interesting, to be sure, though maybe not the strongest of episodes!
Factory Factory: They were far too cute, too. You look at them, and you wonder at what mind could come up with such a beast. Such an adorable beast whose little cheeks you want to pinch. FUCK, IT’S TOO CUTE..
KefkaFloyd: Sea Breeze, the one breezy who can actually communicate with normal ponies, steals the show with his boorish behavior. He’s so adorably and ineffectually angry, like a kitten!
ComradeCosmobot: Oh gosh yes. You can tell he’s angry, but Levinger did a good job at making even us, the viewers, struggle to really feel his anger and frustration until he dashes out the door on his own.
Factory Factory: Sea Breeze is tiny and belligerent. It’s a good comedy combination and you don’t really question him as a result. It lets the story’s lesson sneak up on you through the context of understanding Sea Breeze’s feelings. Most other episodes, the story and likely friendship lesson are broadcast rather early, if you’re paying attention, and then built up through rising action. It’s nice to see a little surprise in the storytelling this time around.
Dexanth: The voice is easily the best part of his character. It’s just so adorable-absurd that you can’t help but smile every time he’s talking. The surprise for me was that Sea Breeze -was- a ‘he’ because the design was feminine. In that regard, it was a pleasant surprise to see my initial on-sight expectation subverted so cleanly. It was a subtle and perhaps unintentional reinforcement of the show’s feminist message, in that a male character appeared feminine and it was cast in a purely positive way.
KefkaFloyd: I can understand his anger. He lashes out because he has a hard time admitting to himself that he’s just as helpless as the other breezies. He thinks he is the one doing all the work, that his Herculean efforts were dragging everyone along, but he does need the other breezies to get where he needs to go.
Frosthawk: Aramek had a really good post in our forums, really going in depth into Sea Breeze’s character, and it really exposes why I think he is one of the show’s better one-shot characters. He is pretty much a jerk at the beginning, yes, but in very much a sympathetic way, and his frustration as clearly rooted in rationality. In fact, he’s an even better character in retrospect when you watch this episode a second time. When you see the way he greets his family when they finally get back home, his motivation and anger make even more sense, and gives the conflict an almost entirely different tone. Fluttershy, of course, brings Sea Breeze to his full potential, but he does the same for Fluttershy.
ComradeCosmobot: It really comes in a realistic fashion too for those people who are stuck in a position where they need to lead in various endeavours but struggle to convince others to see things their way. Levinger really did a good job with his characterization.
Dexanth: And not just leading, but one frustrated with struggling with their own limitations as well. Aramek’s post goes into that – the desire to be more than one is, and the frustration with weakness one cannot seem to overcome. Sea Breeze wants to be able to do everything himself, and resents the task is so monumental it cannot be undertaken alone.
KefkaFloyd: A lot of what Fluttershy is trying to communicate to Sea Breeze is how to be a leader. Even though you wouldn’t think of Fluttershy as being a leader, she shows many traits of good leadership when it counts to Sea Breeze. Things like how to properly motivate people, how to work together, and so on. Just barking orders doesn’t necessarily make people do what you want them to do.
Frosthawk: It was relatively clear from the start that Sea Breeze was the yin to Fluttershy’s yang. They were two leaders that, while sharing the same goal of getting the Breezies back home before the portal closed, had opposite instincts as to how to go about it. Both of their weaknesses harbor the same problem – Sea Breeze’s caustic nature makes the Breezies journey seem treacherous and arduous, and Fluttershy’s overly accommodating nature makes the breezies temptation to stick around her place too great. Many commented that the breezies’ lack of motivation to get back home seemed unrealistic, but given this dynamic here, it makes a lot of sense. It takes a combination of both Sea Breeze’s and Fluttershy’s natures – firmness with encouragement – to finally get them going, and that’s the overall takeaway from this episode, really.
Factory Factory: It was a nice parallel lesson. Sea Breeze needed to learn kindness, and Fluttershy needed to learn how to put away kindness so she can push when it’s needed. Alternatively, Fluttershy learns to sacrifice the little kindnesses for a greater one.
Dexanth: Fluttershy also needs to learn a little of when to let go of something, even when on some level you want to keep it. A real-life parallel is the baby bird one nurses to adulthood, where comes a time that for it to fully flourish, it needs to be set free. Fluttershy is all too eager to let the breezies stay with her because she’s enjoying their presence so much; she has to recognize that her own desires to spend more time with them, while rooted in good intent, are not what is best for the Breezies, and so she learns when it’s time to let go as well.
KefkaFloyd: When I look at this episode, and I think of the previous “FluIttershy is a Doormat” episodes, like Hurricane Fluttershy or Putting Your Hoof Down, I see a pretty clear progression for Flutters. She wants to be helpful and kind and protect creatures against the cruel forces of nature, but she recognizes – on her own – that her kindness is not being helpful to the Breezies. She’s using the tools she learned from earlier episodes, like how to properly be assertive towards the bees.
ComradeCosmobot: It really is where I thought Fluttershy should have been throughout this season, rather than what we saw in “Bats!” for example. Fluttershy has learned! We’ve seen her do so! And I’m really happy to see that Levinger actually seems to recognize that fact and wrote her appropriately.
Frosthawk: This has been pretty wonderful to see. They’re relatively subtle progressions, but very obvious to those who share the same kind of problems with Fluttershy. And I think it’s been shown all across this season – her stepping up to take part in the Equestria games, her leadership roles in Filli Vanilli, and so on. Just little things that she does now that she probably wouldn’t have done in Season 1. Maybe some would say her progress seems slow, but that’s inherent to her nature (as she says in Filli Vanilli, ‘baby steps’), and, really, can you imagine her freaking out and being rendered speechless at a new Ponyville arrival now? She’s come a long way. But one thing that has not changed is her kind core – and I like that this episode explored that.
Dexanth: It’s basically ‘Fluttershy, but more!’ which is what a lot of growth is. You are still yourself, old strengths and weaknesses may well remain, but you learn new ways of working with and around them to accomplish tasks or experience epiphanies that not so long ago would seem impossible.
KefkaFloyd: Mane Six as Breezies. I mean, I didn’t think they would actually do it, but they did. It’s interesting how this could be parlayed into, say, Mane Six as breezy toys, but we haven’t seen any indicators that such a thing is happening.
Frosthawk: I thought that was kind of a distracting scene. Even if it wasn’t meant to sell toys (and by the looks of it, it wasn’t), it just felt forced somehow. I mean, it didn’t really bother me that much, and for the resolution it seemed kind of necessary, but I knew that people would hone in on that, when this episode has a lot more to offer.
ComradeCosmobot: I agree, one hundred percent (although I’ll go one step further and say that, for me, it reeked of promoting a product, whether or not such a product ever comes to market). As soon as I heard Twilight suggest that she had a solution I was just thinking to myself “She’s not really going to go there is she? Oh. Oh. She really is…” It was utterly predictable and forced, never mind the fact that it once again hit on the sore spot I’ve been complaining about all season: that Twilight has become more of a deus ex machina than a real character. It really was the low point in an otherwise acceptable episode.
Factory Factory: I was already used to the idea of a product placement by that point. The transformation was a pretty obvious excuse, but it was an excuse for something neat: seeing the Breezies’ home and getting the last payoff on Sea Breeze’s character arc.
Dexanth: I’m a fan of transformation scenes in general, especially since in pony, it can be cute and/or awesome – Rainbow Dash as a dragon or gryphon WOULD be hilarious – but this one didn’t work for me. It really did feel like a ‘Let’s make the Mane 6 look like Breezies!’ moment that was done just because. It was cute, yes, but it was neither the most practical solution nor the most narratively powerful one. Practical would have been to let the pegasi & Twilight serve as steeds – build them a windbreak and have them chill on their backs while they fly them to their destination, and narrative would have been to simply let their newfound unity be enough to get them home on their own. Still, it was a short bit, and it’s not going to detract from the future, so at worst it’s a stumble the show can easily recover from.
Dexanth: And the designs WERE cute.
Factory Factory: Too cute.
KefkaFloyd: As this was the latest in the line of key episodes (with only Applejack’s and Twilight’s remaining), it was less focused on Flutters performing a kind act and more with her teaching and sharing kindness. It’s not enough for Fluttershy to be a kind person, rather that kindness needs to help others to progress and become better people.
Frosthawk: And this concept really hit a powerful peak around the 17-minute mark, where Fluttershy can no longer hold back her tears after her firm dismissal of the breezies. I believe this also marked the difference between being ‘nice’ and being genuinely kind, and as Nick Lowe has mused in the past, sometimes you’ve got to be cruel to be kind. Fluttershy’s primary concern, as we’ve seen all throughout the series, is making others around her as comfortable and pleased as possible. It’s understandable that she would have a hard time grappling with the catch-22 that being too nice will be harmful in the long-term, while thinking about what’s truly best for the breezies will cause some short-term hurt feelings. But this was an important thing for Fluttershy to go through, and it is pretty cool how this show keeps progressing her lessons, for as much as some like to complain about all her episodes ‘being the same’. I also thought that scene was a good snapshot for kids to see regarding their own parents; sometimes grown-ups have to do seemingly mean things to their kids in order to protect them in the long term, even if it hurts.
ComradeCosmobot: I wouldn’t say teaching kindness here was the point (although she certainly did). She did have an kind of “abuse” of and “struggle” with her element as the other key episodes have featured. Rarity’s generosity was abused, and she then struggled with the negative fallout by not being generous enough to her friends. Rainbow Dash struggled with her loyalty directly. Pinkie Pie’s laughter ended up working against her (she had lost sight of its purpose) rather than for her. And of course, here, Fluttershy lets her kindness get the best of her instead of buckling down and being stern and knowing when to let go. Given all this, it’s pretty obvious that Applejack’s key episode is probably going to come at the end of the month, as the setup of “Leap of Faith” seems to pretty much put Applejack in a direct struggle with honesty (ignoring the obvious reference to her defining moment of honesty in “Friendship Is Magic, Part 2” in the title itself).
Factory Factory: On a completely random aside, did anyone else notice the moment when Fluts checked her hoof to see if she stepped on Sea Breeze? I love that this show would go there.
KefkaFloyd: I did! And she was so nonchalant about it. :v: It reminded me of when everyone was checking for a squished Applejack all the way back in Bridle Gossip. ■