Boy, do we have an episode for you! Step right up and you could be the happy reader of a review of Trade Ya!, the episode of MLP: FiM which aired on Saturday, April 19. Your trading partners today are Fizzbuzz, The Doctor, PictishBeast, Frosthawk, Higsby and drunkill. Check behind the cut for fast paced opinion trading action!
drunkill: This is Scott Sonneborn’s second episode of the show, having previously written Somepony To Watch Over Me. This week it is quite different to his action/adventure first episode.
Fizzbuzz: Honestly, it’s quite different to most episodes of the show in general. Instead of having any one major conflict, it’s just another day in the lives of the Mane Six. This is something that’s only really happened twice before (“The Best Night Ever” in S1 and “Castle Mane-ia” earlier this season). Needless to say, it’s quite refreshing to get another episode like this, especially from another new writer (remember that Josh Haber, also new to S4, wrote “Castle Mane-ia”).
The Doctor: I enjoyed this episode a lot more, due to it’s slice of life nature. Where “Somepony to Watch Over Me” went a bit too far to make a joke in a few places, I thought this episode was very well paced. I thought the Twilight/Pinkie arc could have been handled better, but the wonderful arc with the other pairs were great. The Rainbow Dash/Fluttershy dynamic is one of my favorites in the show and it was great to see it again.
PictishBeast: I’d be 100% happy if every episode for the remainder of the show’s run was “ponies hanging out together and occasionally fighting.” The characters are just so much fun to watch on their own that it’s almost a distraction when a chimaera gets thrown into the mix. The vibe was so low-key on this episode Zap2it could have described it as “The ponies go shopping,” and I liked that.
drunkill: Princess Twilight Sparkle had her first major authoritative duty in overseeing the traders exchange while the others paired off into teams. AJ and Rarity were what you’d expect to see in the MLP franchise as shopping enthusiasts, but this episode put a twist to that view.
Higsby: The first thing that struck me was how everypony was suddenly freaking out over Twilight being a princess. Where did that come from all of a sudden? It’s almost like the news report about her becoming a princess was sent out late, and some ponies are just getting the message now, such as how in “Twilight Time” Diamond Tiara didn’t even seem to know about Twilight. Hopefully that report makes its way over to Manehattan so that she doesn’t have so much trouble getting a taxi next time.
Fizzbuzz: Although I think the act of pairing up Applejack and Rarity has gotten a little bit old by now, I still appreciated the way they were written here. Their banter, particularly towards the end of the episode, was just such a perfect example of what old friends can get away with saying to each other.
PictishBeast: “Gotten a little old?” No way–if a genie gave me three wishes I’d wish for a Rarity/Applejack spin-off series, three times. Those two were the highlight of the episode for me in how they’re obviously opposites but oh wait they’re really not. AJ might have wanted a pie tin and Rarity might have wanted a brooch but at the end of the day they both wanted to go antiquing and that’s why they’re a fun team-up.
The Doctor: I was expecting both of them to fight over an item. Them turning that on it’s head and have them argue that the other should get what they want was a pleasant twist on an old formula. As for Twilight, much like other things this season that have tried to draw attention to her new status, this one felt weak to me. They just forced in a rule that a Princess needs to be present, but you’d think any official could have handled that duty and not one of 4 ponies in the realm.
drunkill: Rainbow Dash was willing to trade her friend Fluttershy for what would be extra work training the dog. She was almost willing to be traded to make sure RD was happy.
Frosthawk: I’m still not entirely convinced that Dash really knew what she was getting into with that trade. She finally saw the light at the end of a long, long tunnel and she was clearly caught up in a hypnotic moment of ecstasy. The fact that she immediately turned to show Fluttershy her new prized possession spoke for this, although Dash really didn’t use it as an excuse when she had the trade hearing with Twilight, mostly, I think, because it would have subverted the moral a bit. Fluttershy being willing to be traded, however, is a whole different story, since she knew what she was getting into. The fact that Fluttershy would pretty much do anything not to see Dash disappointed was a recurring motif through the episode, and something from which Dash learned from by the end. In a sense, Fluttershy was the only one not to really learn a lesson in this episode. Some have said that she was just rolling over to Dash in this episode, but I really think that discredits the kindness she has been shown to represent; she legitimately wanted to see Dash happy by any accounts. That, to me, shows a strong, almost sisterly bond to Dash, whereas being a ‘pushover’ would show some kind of fear of Dash, which I don’t think this episode was about.
Fizzbuzz: Even now I am still in a little bit of shock at how quickly Fluttershy agreed to go to Manehattan. Now that I think about it, I suppose that goes to show the massive amount of empathy she has, that she’d be willing to leave her life behind for a few months just for the sake of her friend. She so valued Rainbow Dash’s happiness that she didn’t even think of herself or her own animals before agreeing to it. It’s to the point where I can’t quite tell if it’s lazy writing (some of the earlier lines, like when she dropped her bear call, definitely did feel a bit lazy) or if she really is willing to give up nearly everything just for that.
PictishBeast: Well maybe Fluttershy was showing her deep empathy…or maybe she was just too intimidated and overwhelmed to say no. “Welp, guess I’m doing this for the next month.” That’s how it felt to me anyway.
The Doctor: Rainbow Dash was entirely focused on the end of her long journey in the fetch quest that she either didn’t hear or didn’t process what was being said. As Frosthawk pointed out, her first act was to share the moment with Fluttershy, who she realized wasn’t there. Heartbroken, Dash immediately tries to correct the situation. As for Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash is (arguably) her best friend and she wants to see her happy. She has far more empathy for others than the often dense, Rainbow Dash, and saw how much it meant for her. I thought the bigger problem was “why not train the dog in Ponyville?”
drunkill: Pinkie Pie had quite a differing view to Twilight Sparkle about her books, was Twilight correct in saying educating some of the ponies would be fairer then an official trade?
Higsby: Twilight wanted the books to have a good home and to allow others to enjoy them, therefore if she wanted to trade them for something that she didn’t really need then that’s her choice. I understand that Pinkie thought she was helping Twilight out, although it eventually got to a point where she was going overboard and it was clear that Twilight wasn’t happy with what she was doing. So how does what Pinkie did really differ from how Twilight was going to accept an item that she didn’t truly need? Then in the end it was made to look as if Twilight was wrong rather than Pinkie, and I don’t really agree with that. That has been one thing that I have noticed about Pinkie lately. Her intentions seem to be pure, in a strange Pinkie Pie kind of way, but in the end she ends up saying things that she shouldn’t and doing things that if she listened, she would realize other ponies don’t want her to do. Then she gets away with it and repeats this trend in future episodes.
Fizzbuzz: While I share Twilight Sparkle’s sentimental attachment to those books, I also think her intentions to share knowledge with everyone else were justified. Libraries removing books from circulation and selling or giving them away is nowhere near unheard of (in fact, several of my own such books came from my high school’s library like that). I don’t think the episode was trying to make her look like she was wrong for doing this. Instead, I got the feeling that Pinkie Pie didn’t quite understand her purple friend’s intentions in accepting what she saw as a terrible trade, so she just had to save Twilight from that. And what better way to get Twilight to do something than by reminding her of rules to follow? Pinkie definitely does need to get better at stopping and listening to whomever she’s interacting with, but as Higsby said, at least her heart always manages to be in the right place.
The Doctor: I thought it was funny that Twilight implies that they are Celestia’s books. Joking aside, I thought the Twilight/Pinkie arc was the weakest. I just can’t imagine Twilight not being over the moon that she can introduce a young pony to these books that have helped her so much. Overall, I think Pinkie’s biggest weakness this season has been her supporting roles, where she has come off as more annoying. She’s been great in her focus episodes though.
PictishBeast: I just felt really, really, really, really, really bad for the little filly who came to a swap meet hoping to trade a broken quill for something less worthless. This book deal was her chance! Who else is going to want her broken quill? Seriously I know it was just a gag, but that scene kind of bummed me out.
The Doctor: Congratulations Pinkie, you helped a little filly never discover the magic of reading. Somewhere, pony Levar Burton is crying.
drunkill: Some of my favorite things this episode were the background gags, simple things such as a Kratos pony selling mythical creatures and Fluttershy flying back and forth when AJ and Rarity were arguing really sold the idea that everything was happening at once.
Frosthawk: The whole Fluttershy in the background gag was pretty brilliant and I thought one of the highlights of this episode, if not slightly detrimental for the fact that I was actually paying more attention to that than what Rarity and Applejack were saying at the time.
Higsby: My favorite was Spike bargaining throughout the entire episode to make one single trade. I know that feeling all too well.
Fizzbuzz: I loved all those background details. Things like that and the oatburger food truck that Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy commandeered made the event feel so alive and real, like a lot of flea markets and crafts fairs that I’ve been to. Of course, events like that in our world definitely don’t involve giant two-headed dogs, but that’s Equestria for you!
PictishBeast: Happy to see yet another mythological creature added to Equestria with the Orthos. I love it when they do that stuff.
The Doctor: I kind of wish we had gotten some lines from Spike during his trade. While it made for a nice gag, I don’t think giving the guy a little spotlight would hurt. Being a huge fan of the game, I did absolutely love the nod to Bioshock Infinite with the appearance of the Lutece ponies.
drunkill: There were a lot of new and interesting ponies shown off this week among a large number of returning ones, what were your highlights?
Frosthawk: I personally liked The Dude pony flipping the burgers, and the owner of the mythical creatures stand (are they really still mythical if they exist?) was deliciously metal.
PictishBeast: Thumbs-up for the Charles Nelson Reilly pony running the chicken stand.
Higsby: The story behind Stellar Eclipse (the wheelchair pony) is super sweet. He was included thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation at the request of a boy who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy. I think it’s great that they were able to make that happen for him, and overall I thought that Stellar Eclipse was actually a really cool pony.
The Doctor: Liked the gamekeeper pony. Someone on the forums posted that it’s probably a reference to the Rancor master from Star Wars. A lot more new background ponies than usual, which I think is always a good thing. I love the story behind Stellar Eclipse, even if I did find the color scheme a bit out of place.
drunkill: Who do you think made the best trade? What item did you see that you’d want to make a trade for?
Frosthawk: Well, in the sense of meeting their end goals, Fluttershy made out the best by actually getting exactly what she wanted, but she really had to work for it, and not even to her own ends. Good on Dash. It was very karmic, really. But nothing can replace the true reward that most of them received by the end – the strengthening of their friendship. D’aww.
Also, I’d be all over that chicken mosaic.
The Doctor: Have to agree that Fluttershy made out the best. She got what she wanted, and she got to help a friend.
Higsby: Why is no one mass producing Discord lamps? I figured that would have become a thing after “Keep Calm And Flutter On”.
Fizzbuzz: Forget all that crazy junk, I want to try an oatburger.
The Doctor: Clearly we the viewer got the best trade, we got to see some adorable moments at the end there.
drunkill: Thanks everyone for participating in this week’s review, and we’ll see everyone back here next week for another Round Table review! ■