Episode 5 has a number of possibilities. The most usual one is to be a bad episode. That’s not to say that it has to be bad, but generally speaking, if you’re spending a lot of money creating really good episodes, you need some nice simple cheap ones to balance out the budget. This can fool the audience if it is done well, and only if you never do two such episodes back-to-back. Episode 5 is typically around the time that you take a breather. However, with some shows, you can do it as early as Episode 4, or as late as Episode 9. FiM, oddly, gets its bad episode out of the way with Episode 3. In that case, it leaves Episode 5 open to be a really good episode, to reward the fanbase for “sticking with” the show.
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And indeed, “Griffon the Brush-Off” is a great episode. Gilda is our first real antagonist since Nightmare Moon, and unlike NMM, she is not redeemed by the end of the episode. This shows the audience that not every villain is going to be defeated by being blasted by a magic rainbow and then decide to embrace friendship. Furthermore, Gilda is not just a villain. She is a typical everyday person that just has a different view of the world around her than everyone else does. While Rainbow Dash sees the advantage of having many kinds of friends, Gilda only wants “cool” friends. Her views aren’t wrong, they’re just different.
“Sisterhooves Social” is probably the most heartwarming episode of the whole show. Maybe it’s just because Rarity is my favorite out of the Main Six and Sweetie Belle is my favorite of the CMC, but I did enjoy seeing the two of them hang out and love each other. It’s also nice to see the show finally acknowledging a sibling relationship, which most of their target audience will have to deal with. Prior to this episode, the sibling sets (Rarity with Sweetie, and AJ with Apple Bloom and Big Mac) could pretty much be ignored. They could have just been friends rather than siblings. This episode changed that.
“Magic Duel” is awesome……ly terrible. It has so much potential, and is surprisingly violent for MLP (pony blood!), and I love the concept of the Alicorn Amulet. Where it all falls apart, however, is their use of the antagonist. Trixie. I can’t stand her. Why? Because she’s the mascot of Equestria Daily. Now I know that OIM has joked about how we hate EQD in the past, but there’s more to it than that here. Really think about Trixie’s first appearance in “Boast Busters”. Did she really do anything that you enjoyed watching? Any reason for her to return? No. She didn’t. The one and only reason why she is a fan favorite is because of EQD. And much like “Lesson Zero”, it just serves to remind me that we have invaded this show and taken it away from little girls. And I feel just terrible about that. The worst part is, that if this was a new villain who was wreaking mayhem in Ponyville instead of an old one, this would probably be one of my favorites.
“Flight to the Finish” is average. On one hand, it is nice for them to address Scootaloo’s disability in such a way that it isn’t ableist. On the other hand, the Equestria Games story arc tie-in was absolutely unnecessary, and overall hurtful to the story. For one thing, we never see any other routine other than the CMC’s, so it feels like it isn’t really a competition. For another, what was Rainbow Dash doing? She doesn’t work for the Equestria Games at all (hell, she is going to COMPETE in them later), so why would they pick her to coach? It just makes no sense.