Through the eyes of Sutekh you will see... a health of spoilers - is it she?
This week's episode is the last stop for the Zecora train. After not really getting any attention last season, the rhyme master of this show got back to back episodes this season to make up for it, it seems like. She needed it. Like I've mentioned before, I've long been a fan of her character since "Bridle Gossip" from way back in season one, and each time she appears in a speaking role, it is a breath of fresh air to me... Unlike last week, though, Zecora isn't making magical remover or bottles of shampoo. Nope, this week, she's under the weather in a big way, and the only pony with the wills to help get her back to top form is none other than Fluttershy. Okay, you now have my interest. What makes this episode even more interesting is the appearance of another of the Legend Six - namely, Meadowbrook. Now we're talking! The last time one of the Legend Six appeared, the story of the legend wound up somewhat overshadowing the main story of the episode. Then again, we are talking about Egypt horse waifu Somnambula. So, did the main story take a backseat to the legend's story again?
We start off in a swamp, where Zecora is helping Fluttershy retrieve some moss for that animal sanctuary that Shy set up a while back. How many times have I mentioned the word "continuity" this season? Anyways, Zecora falls into the water, collects enough moss for Fluttershy, and then a flower shot a cloud of gas into the air after Zecora got near it. After coming out of the cloud, Zecora sees spots all over her body and declares in the only way she can that she is not well. At the doctor's, we see Zecora coughing up bubbles. The doctor winds up capturing one of the bubbles and declares that Zecora has swamp fever, a rare, terminal disease that ultimately transforms beings afflicted into the trees/flowers that spread the disease. After the doctor leaves, Zecora talks about the story of a pony named "Mystical Mask", who could heal just about every disease but disappeared long ago. Fluttershy then decides that she will help Zecora no matter what and heads to Twilight's castle to research the legend of "Mystical Mask", but no dice. The next morning, Fluttershy barges into Twilight's bedroom and announces that she has found out who "Mystical Mask" really is. All signs point towards a pony named "Mage Meadowbrook" who lived in the Hayseed Swamp and could cure just about anything. She also wore a mask because that's what healers did. Both then leave for the place where Meadowbrook lived.
Before that, the two visit Zecora to check up on her. She's sneezing lightning and stopped rhyming, which is never a good sign. Fluttershy immediately declares that they need to leave at that instant before Zecora's condition goes further downhill. They later arrive at the village where Meadowbrook lived, ultimately going inside a tree house - Meadowbrook's house. The place seems deserted, but Fluttershy and Twilight are surprised when a pony named Cattail - a descendant of Meadowbrook - ultimately greets them and allows them to go through Meadowbrook's journals on the hope that she has found a cure for swamp fever. Of course, she did find a cure, and thus begins the story of Meadowbrook:
Long ago, Meadowbrook and her mom were the village's healers, and they were able to find a cure for every disease its residents suffered. As a gift, her mom gave Meadowbrook her first healer's mask. By the way, Meadowbrook's voice is exactly how I imagined it - definite Louisiana bayou-type accent here, and she's voiced by Mariee Deverux. She's also kinda cute. Anyways, a pony shows up at their door with swamp fever, which, until that point, there was no cure for. Ultimately, every pony in that village except Meadowbrook falls ill with the disease. After studying the flowers that spread the disease, Meadowbrook notices something: flash bees feeding off the flowers, unaffected by their gas clouds. She then comes up with the cure: the bees' honey. After healing the entire village, Mehadowbrook makes it her will to travel Equestria and heal the sick, no matter what. Back to the present, we find out that Meadowbrook disappeared without a trace long ago, and she didn't go into any detail as to how she acquired the honey. At this point, Fluttershy really could use some rest, especially now that she has spots all over her body--oh dear. Oh dear oh dear.
So, Fluttershy is now sick with swamp fever, what now? Locate the flash bee hive, of course, despite being literally dead tired and now ill with the fever she was trying to get the cure for. After putting both Twi and Cattail in healer's masks, Fluttershy manages to make it to the beehive. When politely asking for honey, the bees do not agree. When trying to perform her trademark stare, the bees are unaffected and sting her asleep or unconscious. Three days later, she wakes up at Meadowbrook's treehouse. Fully rested now, Fluttershy figures out that using Meadowbrook's mask, which happens to still be around after all these years and be colored like the queen flash bee, will allow her to get the bees' honey. So she does that, cures herself and Zecora (who was beginning that tree-transformation), and we get our lesson to end on: take care of yourself before taking care of others. And then the doctor falls ill with swamp fever. Roll credits!
This one was really good. Dark yet maybe not as solid as last week's episode, but still good. Fluttershy was probably the best thing about this episode, and it's interesting that she was paired with Twi here. That definitely doesn't happen often. However, Twi didn't really do much throughout the episode outside of save Fluttershy that one time. That wasn't a big problem for me; I didn't mind her presence and this was more a Fluttershy episode anyways, but it's still something to note because you would think Twi would know a way to deal with those bees, mask or no mask. Okay, let me address the big thing that came out of this episode. Characters could have legit died! A disease that turns beings afflicted into the flora that spreads the disease further might just be the darkest thing I've seen in this show. Not only that, I guarantee fanfic writers are going to have a field day with some of the things seen in this one. Pain, sickness, and a terminal disease, all put into a story that wound up being pretty solid. Again, maybe not as solid as last week's episode, but, if this wasn't a season filled with blowout episodes (in other words, if this was season six), it might be in the top five. The darker tone really paid off here, and Fluttershy, as I've mentioned, was the best thing about this episode. How she was written, her tone throughout, how everything was executed... Give me more of that, please. The story of Meadowbrook was good and well-written, and it didn't overshadow the main storyline at all like I thought it might. The thing about her disappearing without a trace definitely points towards events that will likely be happening in the season finale, from what we know of it at this point. The new location was very interesting, and, in the end, everything adds up to yet another very solid entry into season seven. I'll tell you this right now: I'm definitely going to have a hard time figuring out my end of season rankings. That's what a season with more than a handful of very good episodes will do!
Next week: The CMC is helping blank flanks get their marks, but then they face a certain blank flank rumbling down the hallway...
I think this episode confirms that Fluttershy would not like to be a tree. Let that sink in.