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MLP: Friendship is Magic "Putting Your Hoof Down" Recap



Tired
of being pushed around all the time, Fluttershy learns how to be more
assertive from a minotaur named Ironwill. But she ends up taking the
lessons too far.

Fluttershy
is very sweet and calm with a deep love of animals and nature. I can
relate, and so she was my favorite character for most of the
first season until Rarity eventually took her place as my favorite character. As her name suggests Fluttershy is rather
shy, although she has shown great courage before. She’s not shy when her friends are in danger, or when she’s dealing with vicious wild animals (except for full-grown dragons). She is shy when it comes to dealing with other
ponies and the like; she doesn’t want to bother anyone or do anything that could possibly be perceived as rude, a fact which her rabbit (Angel) often exploits
for his own advantage. This episode’s premise of Fluttershy learning to be assertive was to be expected and it played out as I expected it would, though “Putting Your Hoof Down” is still a great episode despite that.

 

This episode focuses on five characters: Fluttershy, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Angel, and a new character: Ironwill the minotaur. Fluttershy was perfectly in character early in this episode and I felt for her when others deliberately pushed her around. Even though she did end up taking things too far, it felt good to watch her finally getting her way for a change. Although the show has proven it can handle having all six main characters involved, it was great that this episode also focused on Rarity and Pinkie Pie instead of forcing in all of them. The smaller group allows for greater focus on each individual character, and Rarity and Pinkie Pie were the best choices for supporting characters. Pinkie is by far the most outgoing pony but she isn’t a foil to Fluttershy like Rainbow Dash, while Rarity is probably the closest friend to Fluttershy (as shown in “Green Isn’t Your Color”). Angel was the reason why Fluttershy had to deal with the ponies in the market, which was an excellent gauge for Fluttershy’s character growth. Finally there’s Ironwill, who isn’t a bully despite how he might seem. He’s a great character who passionately believes in what he’s doing, that his lessons in assertiveness are helping ponies (of course, money is a motivation for him as well). The only issue I found with Ironwill is that he’s a minotaur, a half-man in a show where there’s no man to speak of. The point isn’t brought up for good reason.

The episode begins with Fluttershy feeding some of her animal friends. But Angel refuses to eat anything except a very particular recipe,
which he coerces her into agreeing to make for him. The scene beautifully sets things up and gets right to the point, though it makes me angry with Angel. At the market Fluttershy tries to buy what she needs to make Angel’s meal, but things don’t work out as others push her around and take what she’s looking for instead. Rarity and Pinkie Pie happen to be in the
market and try to help Fluttershy by showing her what to do instead
of being a pushover. Rarity flirts, while Pinkie Pie’s method of tricking a stubborn merchant into compromising brought a smile to my face. When Fluttershy tries out
those techniques however, she fails miserably and gives up. She makes the recipe as best she can without her final ingredient, but Angel acts like a jerk when he finds out. This causes Fluttershy to realize that she really does have a problem with letting others push her around, at which point she conveniently finds a letter for an assertiveness seminar led by Ironwill and vows to never to be a pushover again! During the seminar (which once again makes me wonder about the exact extent of technology in Equestria), Fluttershy is called on stage and has a small breakthrough. Ironwill seizes the
opportunity to state that if his training can work for her, it
can work for anypony. The crowd cheers and Fluttershy is left with the encouragement and motivation to actually stick to the lesson.

From
there you can probably figure out what happens next, up to a point.
Fluttershy applies what she learned and starts getting her way, with each victory inspiring her and building her assertiveness until she starts to take it too far. Of course in her joy Fluttershy doesn’t even realize
that’s happening, and she eventually gets into an argument with her friends about her behavior. After she hurts their feelings Fluttershy realizes she’s become a monster and feels guilty, so she locks herself in her cottage. Rarity and Pinkie Pie try to help, but things go from bad to worse until Ironwill shows up to collect his payment for the lessons at the climax. The ending is satisfying one that pits Fluttershy against Ironwill himself, ultimately teaching a lesson that it’s important to stand up for yourself without changing who you are or taking things too far.

“Putting Your Hoof Down” is very well done. It leans more
towards the serious side but still featured a nice level of humor. From a technical viewpoint I saw much improvement visually; the animation is getting better and the area where Fluttershy now has more detail with more of the surrounding area being shown. Speaking of details this is one of the few times money has ever been mentioned or shown in the show; it was interesting to see that dose of realism. I
highly recommend this episode; its outcome was expected but it presented its material in a fresh way. Plus, it was truly satisfying to finally see Fluttershy grow this way as a character.

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