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absolute total madness

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  • 35 weeks
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Ranking every episode of MLP S1-5 · 1:14pm Jul 18th, 2018

The not-so-highly requested list is finally here, which means the World Cup has at last come to a close and I can start writing again. And can I just say first what a painful final that was. Credit to Croatia, but I won't begrudge France anything. Their title should be enough. I might review it, actually. A few words (quite a few) on the tournament. Perhaps some other time. Anyway.

I suppose I should give you tuppence on the show itself. But really? Should I? It's been done to death, it really has. I swear, every brony in existence has a spit-and-polish speech knocked off and available on demand. The animation's great, the characters are great, the world-building is great, and blah, blah, bloody blah. We've heard it all before.

Even so, it really is fantastic, this show, on the whole. As to why, depends who you ask, of course, and I doubt there'll ever be a go-to explanation with which outsiders can feel satisfied. My favourite way to handle the conversation? You've got to be a brony to understand. You've got to ride the rollercoaster, boyo, take the plunge, the pill, swallow the medicine, all that. You've just got to.

Back to the why, though, and for me it's all about tone. You can have your main character eat scrapings off a Helix eraser for three hours straight so long as it's something I'm made to give a shit about. That is to say, the writing is so exceptionally effective and the character so compelling for it that a tone is created, one so invaluably significant you can't but marvel at how good the thing is.

OK, that sounded better in my head. I'm basically saying, whatever it is, it's got to get you involved emotionally. It's got to create a space you connect with and take comfort in. Story, and characters, and setting, and world-building, all these things are secondary. Well, they aren't, but... they are. These things make the tone, but the tone itself has to be good. That's the main thing for me. And whether it is or not is subjective. This show's tone? It's gold. Pure gold. Or at least it was.

For just as with Who, it hasn't all been good. It quite literally hasn't all been sunshine and rainbows (although we do get a few here and there). Some of the show's episodes are just... so goddamn bad. It's infuriatingly irksome and harmful to my enjoyment (selfish much) of MLP as a whole. I mean, they're not bad bad, but... well, when compared to what the show's done before, they really are. They suck.

And for that reason, season six onward won't make this list, because it made me retch. Why pollute my critique with scathing paragraphs guaranteed to piss off all who read them? I know this isn't a popular opinion, but I just don't get how people like what the show's become. Everything I dislike about MLP, episode after episode. It's no wonder I gave up.

But I'm happy people are still enjoying it. No joke, have fun, you lot. Have fun.

But enough talk. Every episode of MLP S1-5 ranked. You know, the spicy stuff. Let's go.

The worst

109. Slice of Life

All right, people, I'm punching up here because this train wreck of an episode deserves none of the sympathy it gets, comprising an unparalleled degree of pandering, fan-happy bullshit. I suppose a chunk of people actually enjoy watching rock-bottom fanfic storylines become a serious thing on the show, and don't get me wrong, that's exactly what Slice paved the way for. Avoid it like the plague, I say, and you can thank me later.

108. Scare Master

Season five's basically a boatload of stinkers, and this one's very close to being worst. Ugh.

107. Made in Manehattan

My least favourite episode prior to reflection and the uncomfortable realisation that season six's contingent is even worse.

106. Princess Spike

I expected better than what we got. Near anything would probably have been better.

105. The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows

Another season-five shocker, in which Pinkie reiterates how exasperatingly irritating she can be when mishandled by the writer on duty. Looking at you, G. M. Berrow.

104. Crusaders of the Lost Mark

Oh, for Pete's sake. All that build-up. Years spent awaiting this moment, and it sucked so hard! Heck, I can't even be arsed to give these howlers a semi-decent paragraph. Next, please.

103. Party Pooped

Season five, of course. Which else? You already know what that means. It's literally in the name.

102. The Mane Attraction

The song was good, but the rest downright dismal.

101. Brotherhooves Social

I wonder whose idea it was to indulge unashamedly the transvestite fetishists lurking amidst our motley crew. (That was a joke, by the way. Calm down, please, I don't want to trigger a stroke. That was also a joke. Just throwing it out there in case of stroke victims. OK, that was another. I'll shut up.)

100. The Hooffields and McColts

How many times must we be subjected to the Hatfield–McCoy gimmick? Pretty sure Looney Tunes did us one back in the day as well, that's how old this is. And I'm willing to feud over it.

99. Tanks for the Memories

Here Rainbow Dash pisses the shit out of me, which she does well enough at the best of times. Credit where it's due, though, she's had some cracking eps. But this? It's about as far away from being one as any unobservable sector of our universe.

98. Hearthbreakers

It reminds me only of Big Mac/Marble Pie, which isn't something I want to remember ever.

97. Rarity Investigates!

Darling, it practically self-destructs when stood up against MMMystery, so don't expect kind words on account of its being a whodunnit (and Rarity episode).

96. Appleoosa's Most Wanted

God, are there many more? These season-five slip-of-the-pens have me screaming internally without end.

95. Canterlot Boutique

Banal character Sassy Saddles' introduction. Move along.

94. The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone

There's just no need. Like, at all. Oh, but there was, of course, excuse me. Should fourth-rate world-building be a tick box on your checklist.

93. Make New Friends but Keep Discord

At least our man Discord has a sense of humour. I'd have slipped away otherwise. And that puppet cameo... awful, awful shout. Head in shame, Ms Levinger. Head in shame. (I'm just being cruel now.)

92. Amending Fences

What's all the fuss about? Yes, I saw it, and no, I wasn't impressed. In fact, do you know, I didn't like it one bit. So there. Sniff.

91. It Ain't Easy Being Breezies

Your favourite characters transfigure themselves into fluffy-tale dragonflies. Decide whether it's something you wish to endure.

90. Over a Barrel

No one gonna say it? Alright, I'm gonna say it. Little Rock is annoying as shit.

89. Spike at Your Service

Yeah, I didn't even mind this. And I don't know what you're looking at me like that for, entire brony fandom. It's better than anything you're into these days for sure.

88. Pinkie Pride

Another fandom-salivate-over-it I heartily dislike. Sorry, Weird Al, your cameo isn't enough to change my mind.

87. Daring Don't

Let's not talk about it. We know. Enjoy what you can if you can.

86. The Cutie Mark Chronicles

Expectable and enlightening instalment detailing exactly how the Mane 6 got their famous flank tattoos.

The mediocre

85. Magical Mystery Cure

Great music, miserable execution. But I had no qualms about alicorn Twilight. Guess it helps I saw the moment coming a mile off.

84. Filli Vanilli

Fluttershy tackles stage fright – again. It's always self-doubt with this bleeding-heart little equine, isn't it. I'd be a tad more empathetic if she hadn't learned her lesson around sixteen hundred times already.

83. Friendship is Magic Parts 1 & 2

And here we are, the unremarkable yet quite indispensable two-part start to it all. Without these the fandom might never have existed. Did someone cheer? Is that an earthquake? Blimey, it's almost as though people would be pleased. But we're here, and they aren't.

82. Somepony to Watch Over Me

Overprotective Applejack protects Apple Bloom from... stuff, I guess? It isn't very memorable.

81. The Cutie Re-Mark Parts 1 & 2

I said something about this before. Pitiful trauma, Starlight, miserably slight. You aren't justified, and neither is your arc.

80. What About Discord?

When Discord's dropping Bob Ross references, we raise it higher than a happy little cloud. (Real shame we didn't see him clean his brushes, though.)

79. Dragonshy

An early bore, but it is at least bearable.

78. Bats!


77. Pinkie Apple Pie.

Eh. It isn't great, and it isn't bad. It's just... eh.

76. Stare Master

Season one nailed the tone game so damn well that despite being an intrinsically trashy filler, this little rascal's up and not so down. They don't make 'em like they used to.

75. Look Before You Sleep

Ashleigh Ball's early Applejack isn't great in retrospect, purely because her game upped so significantly come season two. Discounting that niggle, it's decent if a little inoffensive.

74. Suited For Success

20% cooler needs to die. I mean, it is dead, but it isn't. Because inductees were well-nigh obligated to quote the crap out of it in the past – and still do.

73. Apple Family Reunion

Racist barn, racist barn. And I disliked the song in the first place.

72. Simple Ways

A long, long way away from my favourite episode, but highly amusing and entertaining without doubt. Rarity's long-time celebrity crush arrives in Ponyville to attend a festival over which she is presiding – and falls head over heels for Applejack. Hilarity ensues. At last we're getting somewhere.

71. Baby Cakes

Pinkie learns she's got what it takes to be a babysitter. It's a sit-through – and a five.

70. Castle Mane-ia

Highjinks and lots of horsing around. Moderately funny, sufficiently enjoyable.

69. Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?

You can't imagine how happy I was to detour (however briefly) season five's bottom-of-the-barrel run. Looking back, this episode is quite incredible in its own way. But nothing more.

68. Too Many Pinkie Pies

Plays host to perhaps the only time I've ever felt sorry for Dash. When she's trying to wind down amid an unruly legion of oh-so typically intolerable Pinkie Pies.

67. Just for Sidekicks

That Spike never got to eat his gem cake is almost as serious a tragedy as my never seeing him bake it.

66. The Crystal Empire Parts 1 & 2

Enjoyable, but I hope these didn't influence the show to become what it is now. You bronies and your fixation with quick-fix, low-grade fantasy. I'm a die-hard season twoer. You can tell.

65. A Canterlot Wedding Parts 1 & 2

Enjoyable, but come on, if it's fantasy you're after, MLP is run-of-the-mill at best. The show's most critical strength has always been its capacity to explore pertinent human issues with endearing charm and finesse. Keep it simple, they say in football. It applies here also.

64. Twilight Time

Ah, the joys of infamy and alicornhood. Twilight is disappointed to learn that Ponyville's entire juvenile population dote on her merely because she's a royal. Good fun.

63. Maud Pie

Some people are just weird, I guess. That's the message here, and it's well-executed enough not to cringe you out.

62. Testing Testing 1, 2, 3

Oh god, my greatest sympathies to the poor beggar struggling to tempt Rainbow Dash into a weekend of revision. That's you, Twilight.

61. Rarity Takes Manehattan

Rarity's generosity isn't reciprocated when the competition plagiarises her work. But she's a stubborn little war horse, is our girl. Good on you for wiping that smirk off Suri's face.

60. Boast Busters

Trixie. She's the very definition of a certain four-letter word beginning with B. At least one half of us say so. The other? She was just doing her job!

59. Magic Duel

It's that Trixie again, insufferable show-off turned villain. Why couldn't Twilight have just munched her?

58. Bridle Gossip

Turns out Apple Bloom is the only pony in Ponyville willing to give mysterious strangers the benefit of the doubt. Come on, there has to be something wrong with that. A good watch all the same.

57. May the Best Pet Win

It had me cringing. Nice song though. I enjoyed this, really.

56. Sonic Rainboom

Decent episode in which radiance for the sake of it goes to Rarity's head, and pre-performance anxiety gets to Rainbow. Latter ends up saving former's life, in the process gaining sufficient approval for the both of them. If that's even possible.


55. Princess Twilight Sparkle Parts 1 & 2

Discord at his best in these two, delivering perhaps the finest comedy scenes of his tenure. What a guy.

54. Call of the Cutie

An important episode pivotal to our enjoyment of the CMC in that it brought our beloved trio together. Many a great underplot featuring these three to come later.

53. Inspiration Manifestation

Honesty is the best policy – even if it would risk trampling any progress in your faux romance with Rarity, Spike, and potentially your life to boot. You did well, lad.

52. Castle Sweet Castle

A touching episode reminding us all that home is where the heart is. Also features the hilarious moment when Spike accidentally orders a deep-tissue massage in a desperate bid to stall Twilight.

51. Games Ponies Play

Entertaining, and it got me excited for the games to come.

50. Secret of My Excess

I always knew Spike was a greedy so-and-so. Kidding. It's a yes from me.

49. Power Ponies

I thought this little spoof would miss bullseye by at least seven boards. But it connected, and well.

48. Hearth's Warming Eve

A well-handled instalment giving us welcome info as regards Equestria and its origins.

47. Swarm of the Century

Twilight and Co. pointedly ignore Pinkie Pie, oblivious to the fact it's she who can prevent the rapidly proliferating parasprites from ravaging Ponyville. Such fun.

46. The Return of Harmony Parts 1 & 2

Discord's introduction, and although I'm not a huge fan of these, they're very well executed. A solid start to MLP's finest season.

45. Hearts and Hooves Day

Ah, youth. Well, it's not so much perspiring teens in this one, more the two unfortunates ensnared by an accidentally brewed love poison. Awful romance, great comedy. Big thumbs up from me in the end.

44. Winter Wrap Up

Twilight feels left out because for some reason she can't use magic to help ready the town for spring. Stupid tradition, but it's a classic, a damn good episode, and I'll tolerate the silliness for that.

43. Griffon the Brush-Off

One of Rainbow's childhood friends turns out (unsurprisingly) to be a massive ass. So, so satisfying, these comeuppances.

42. Feeling Pinkie Keen

We've arrived! Everything upward of here is creme de la creme, people. And Twilight losing her shit over an unexplained phenomenon gets the ball rolling.

41. A Bird in the Hoof

Delightfully wicked, thoroughly entertaining. Celestia's pet phoenix trolls everyone by pretending to die. Twilight has a mini stroke trying to cover it up, and we wet ourselves from laughter in the process.

40. Luna Eclipsed

A subtler handling of reformation than anything post-season four.

39. Dragon Quest

Spike has an identity crisis, Twilight pretends to understand, Spike leaves for distant lands, and Rarity and Twilight tail him wearing the most ridiculous disguise you ever did see. It's totally hysterical for the full twenty minutes. Wonderful stuff.

38. One Bad Apple

The CMC greet Apple Bloom's visiting cousin Babs with open arms, only to discover she's more concerned with self-preservation than their friendship, tormenting the trio personally so as not to fall victim to other bullies. Both charming and amusing, as most Crusader episodes are. And very, very good.

37. The Show Stoppers

Another CMC gem. This time the girls try their hooves at performing arts. It goes catastrophically wrong, but they have a great time and so do we.

36. Sleepless in Ponyville

Desperate to impress her idol, Scootaloo adopts a feels-no-fear persona. Unfortunately, she does. Touching and relatable.

35. The Last Roundup

Applejack shockingly refuses to return home from a rodeo. The reason? She hasn't won enough medals. So goddamn relatable for anyone who's dabbled in competitive sport.

34. Party of One

Pinkie loses it. And I mean loses it. I don't think writers can get away with this sort of thing very often. Brilliant to watch though. Heck, it inspired Cupcakes. Or is that a bad thing?

33. Applebuck Season

Season one's early brilliance. Applejack vows stubbornly to clear an entire orchard's worth of apples – completely unassisted. Naturally, her other commitments suffer.

32. A Friend in Deed

At times one of the funniest things I've watched. Pinkie can be annoying, but when her annoyingness is focused on so cranky a character as... well, Cranky, she's comedy gold.

31. The Best Night Ever

Season one's grand finale, and boy, what a treat it was. Daniel Ingram, I salute you, sir. Glorious music.


30. Keep Calm and Flutter On

A hugely important episode without which we'd have no Discord at his best (an absolute tragedy). This is how his character really shines, when he's a havoc-wreaking funny man.

29. The Ticket Master

A landmark for yours truly, because it's what first hooked me into watching unironically. FiM Parts 1 & 2? Alright at best. Episode three's where the magic starts to happen.

28. Sisterhooves Social

A warm-hearted instalment outlining all your typical sibling struggles so very, very well. Tabitha St. Germain as Rarity glows.

27. A Dog and Pony Show

Tabitha's at it again, voicing the chic and sophisticated Rarity with a depth of skill only an actress of her experience can bring to the table.

26. Green Isn't Your Colour

Fluttershy and Rarity play off each other superbly when Rarity becomes jealous of the former's unexpected success in modelling.

25. Owl's Well That Ends Well

One of Spike's finest, in which his devotion to Twilight fuels a vendetta against one who he believes has usurped him.

24. Family Appreciation Day

Who'd have thought the old girl had such a tip-top tale to tell? Good job we listened!

23. The Cutie Map Parts 1 & 2

These were like nothing we'd ever seen before. Dark, disturbing, volatile – but rendered sour-tasting come the season-five finale. That's Starlight for you, the character who screwed everything up.

22. Bloom & Gloom

One of season five's only belters, surreal, unpredictable and exhilarating.

21. The Cutie Pox

A fantastic Apple Bloom episode, in which the impatient Crusader decides to cut corners. The consequences are severe and result in a lesson learned the hard way.

20. Lesson Zero

Twilight experiences a nervous breakdown while attempting to meet a deadline. Comedy gold.

19. Hurricane Fluttershy

Our scared-stiff pegasus trains hard to conquer her fear of flight, knowing that to extract sufficient water from Ponyville's reservoir, Rainbow Dash and the weather team need as much wing power as they can get. Exciting, entertaining, and it increases our knowledge of Equestrian culture without sacrificing tone. Just how I like it!

18. Leap of Faith

Smooth-talking con duo Flim and Flam manipulate Applejack into endorsing their Miracle Curative Tonic, which she knows to be fake. Only when Granny Smith's life is at stake as a result does she expose them and in so doing herself. It's a very strong episode, pertinent and relatable.

17. Putting Your Hoof Down

I absolutely adore this much-hated episode. Fluttershy enrols in a self-help assertiveness course dictated by catchphrase-slinging minotaur Iron Will. Between the subsequent hilarity we get some mildly touching scenes as our most timid of doormats descends to rudeness and violence. Remember, people! Never apologise when you can criticise! I certainly do!

16. MMMystery on the Friendship Express

A detective parody done right! Are you watching, season five? Pinkie's outlandish theories sound even funnier when played out beside an exasperated and typically logical Twilight. One of the greats.

15. Three's A Crowd

Discord's very, very best right here, because the tears of laughter dripping down my face just wouldn't dry up. John de Lancie's marvellous ability to deliver a line oozing with sarcasm and intentionally ill-disguised ill intent is marvellous.

14. It's About Time

Whenever Twilight's losing it, you know you're in for a treat. After encountering her future self, she becomes convinced of an imminent disaster and spends the entire week freaking out, with predictably comical results. This episode features one of the series' best exchanges, when Twilight, clad in burglar black and cowering, is caught by one of the archive guards.

13. Equestria Games

A fabulous episode that hits it off with me because of its parallels to major sporting events like the World Cup.

12. For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils

Claire Corlett, who always shines as Sweetie Belle, does so even more when her character's anger at big sister Rarity evaporates upon acquiring some perspective. Affecting, very well executed and enjoyable.

11. Twilight's Kingdom

A more complete ending to the first four seasons you couldn't ask for, and these I feel could easily have wrapped up the entire show. The ultimate test, the ultimate betrayal, and the most extraordinary battle they've given us rolled into a thrilling two-parter. Plus, an awesome cliff hanger that in my opinion should never have been answered. Leave that bit to the imagination.

The best

10. Fall Weather Friends

An exceptional episode dealing with issues very close to home, through characters whose attitudes toward these things are very similar to those of yours truly. Competition, the desire to win, the necessity to do so at whatever cost. Rainbow Dash and Applejack decide to prove once and for all which of them is the better athlete – and nearly destroy their friendship in the process. They come good in the end, however, and it's an important lesson for anyone to keep in mind.

9. The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000

MLP at its finest in this one. When Applejack and family are unable to meet the demand for cider during season, travelling charlatans Flim and Flam plan to corner the market by ousting the Apples in a cider-making contest. Hammers home the importance of teamwork, dedication and integrity. Incredible song, Mr Ingram, by the way.

8. Flight to the Finish

A very affecting episode, in which Scootaloo's spirit breaks after failing to impress either her friends or herself in their endeavour to become flag carriers at the Equestria Games. Rainbow Dash adopts the big-sister role, talking her back to full strength.

7. Trade Ya!

Season four was up and down, but it had its fair share of standouts, this one in particular. So fixated on acquiring a first-edition Daring Do at the Traders Exchange, Rainbow Dash (blissfully unaware) gives up her best friend to get it.

6. The Mysterious Mare Do Well

Rainbow Dash. I don't like you (lending further credence to the theory that people dislike in others what they hate in themselves), but I can't deny some of your episodes are special. And this one is, of course, very satisfying for me because the braggart is being cut down a peg. After a couple minor acts of decency, Rainbow lets it get to her head and boasts openly of her virtue and prowess as an altruist. Her face when all credit is heaped onto a masked usurper? Priceless!

5. Sweet and Elite

A subtler episode dealing with social division and self-image. Rarity struggles to balance her friends and desire to break into the upper class. One of the best without doubt, with a message we all should remember.

4. Rainbow Falls

I love these Equestria Games-themed episodes. Captaining the Ponyville contingent, Rainbow Dash will do anything to ensure they qualify. But when Wonderbolt Soarin clips his wing, Rainbow's Cloudsdale counterparts try their utmost to swing her over to their side. Unfortunately for Dash, the rules forbid competitors from being a part of more than one team. Infinitely relatable again for anyone who's into sports.

3. Wonderbolts Academy

A truly fantastic instalment, in which Rainbow Dash draws ever closer to achieving her all-time dream. Outshining the competition with ease, it seems a matter of time before she's made a Wonderbolt. But then she meets Lightning Dust, a pony equally talented, equally driven – perhaps even more so. Lightning, unlike Rainbow, however, displays a lack of empathy and selfish goals, and Spitfire (ironically) rewards the latter. Realising the Wonderbolts' ideology is clashing with her own, Rainbow chooses to speak up and ultimately quits the programme in moral objection. Rainbow, Rainbow. We knock heads on a heap of things, but I can't deny you're spot on here.

2. Ponyville Confidential

I thought this was number one for sure but, incredibly, it isn't. What an episode though, really. Exciting, serious, it's funny, it's pertinent. Apple Bloom suggests she and the girls try working for the school paper. They soon discover just how very, very good gossip is for business and turn the town upside down writing it under the alias Gabby Gums. Totally perfect. Laughter, smiles and an appreciative nod at the end of every rewatch.

1. Read It And Weep

Well, I hate to admit it to myself... but Rainbow Dash episodes... when they hit, they're unrivalled. Injured and recuperating, Dash resorts to the super uncool hobby of reading to pass the time – and cannot face admitting to her friends that she absolutely adores it. Sound familiar? It does to every brony.

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