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Iron Will: Don't be sorry, be assertive! Never apologize when you can criticize!
Story by Charlotte Fullerton
Written by Merriwether Williams
Fluttershy's having a rough morning. Angel Bunny angrily refuses to eat his breakfast, and insists Fluttershy make a big, fancy salad instead. She goes grocery shopping for the ingredients, only to repeatedly get cut off by other ponies in line. Pinkie Pie and Rarity try to help by teaching her to be assertive, but Fluttershy's attempts to emulate their techniques backfires, and she eventually leaves without the last ingredient -- the cherry on top. She makes the salad anyway, but since it wasn't completely perfect, Angel throws a tantrum... and throws Fluttershy out the front door! As Fluttershy laments just how much of a doormat she is, she finds a flyer from Iron Will, a motivational speaker who's holding a seminar to teach ponies to stand up for themselves. Iron Will turns out to be a hulking, boisterous minotaur who advises his audience to be aggressive and pushy, and lures them in with his show-boating and a 100% satisfaction, money-back guarantee. Will demonstrates the effectiveness of his techniques with the meekest pony in the audience as a "volunteer" -- and, naturally, that pony is Fluttershy. True to his word, Iron Will quickly gets Fluttershy to stand up for herself against his assistants, and she's pleasantly surprised at how good it feels to be assertive.
Back home, Fluttershy puts her lessons to good use, to the delight of her friends. But it isn't long before "New Fluttershy" grows more and more aggressive, eventually lashing out at ponies for slights big, small, or imagined. Pinkie Pie and Rarity try to talk some sense into her, but New Fluttershy thinks they just want the push-over "Old Fluttershy" back. She lashes out at them with personal insults, then dismisses their interests as shallow and frivolous, driving them off in tears.
Finally ashamed at how monstrous she's become, Fluttershy boards up her house and hides inside, for fear of hurting anypony else ever again. Concerned about her, Pinkie Pie and Rarity come by, then try to coax her out by saying she doesn't have to be a bully to be assertive. Midway through their discussion, Iron Will and his crew show up as well, to collect Fluttershy's payment for the seminar. Frightened of what he might do to their friend, Rarity and Pinkie stall him, but Fluttershy accidentally gives herself away with a sneeze, whereupon Iron Will threatens to tear her door down if he doesn't get paid. Fluttershy finally comes out... and tells Iron Will that she refuses to pay. Calmly but firmly, she explains that he had promised 100% satisfaction... and she's not satisfied with the seminar at all. Unable to argue with that, Iron Will agrees and leaves without a fuss.
As Pinkie Pie and Rarity celebrate the return of the Old Fluttershy, Fluttershy dictates a letter to Princess Celestia about how you don't have to change who you are to stand up for yourself. Of course, it helps that she uses "The Stare" on Angel to stop his fussy eating habits.
When somepony denies these tropes, you show them the ropes! (YMMV Tropes are here.)
- Absentee Actor: Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash and Spike do not show up.
- Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: A non-videogame version. The cost of tomatoes seems to increase every week. And one pony deliberately raises the price of a single cherry because Fluttershy was so desperate to buy one.
- Less the universe hating Fluttershy as much as Fluttershy giving away her desperation and allowing the seller to gain a huge advantage in bargaining. The free market is not kind to the likes of the -shy.
- A Load of Bull: Iron Will is a minotaur.
- An Aesop: Being assertive and standing up for yourself is good, but no license to become a jerk or a bully yourself.
- Appeal to Flattery: Rarity's tactics for getting the last bundle of Asparagus from the nerdy teenage colt is to flirt with him.
- Ascended Fanon: Derpy's saddlebag buckle is a muffin.
- Also, Lyra Heartstrings and Bon Bon are seen sharing a drink.
- What's more, Bon Bon's saddlebag has a clasp shaped like a lyre.
- Audience What Audience: When Pinkie Pie and Rarity first confront Iron Will, he gives the viewers a thumbs up. Rarity and Pinkie Pie both glance around in the audience's direction, visibly confused.
- Awesome McCoolname: Iron Will.
- Barrier-Busting Blow: Subverted. When trying to collect his fee, Iron Will rips the boards off Fluttershy's front door, visibly winds himself up, then politely knocks on it.
- Beleaguered Assistant: Angel may have been difficult for most of the episode, but he ties Fluttershy up when she asks.
- Big Ball of Violence: When Fluttershy beats up the hapless pony who tried to get in the cab she'd hailed.
- Book Ends: The episode starts and ends with Fluttershy feeding her animals.
- Bow Ties Are Cool: The nerd pony is seen wearing a fine green one in the market scene.
- Break the Cutie:
- Rarity and Pinkie Pie run away in tears after enduring several insults from Fluttershy, including personal attacks and calling their lives' purpose "frivolous."
- Fluttershy herself shortly thereafter; looking into a puddle and seeing that she's gone to far with her 'assertiveness' the breakage leads her to seal herself in her home and vow to never leave again. Lest she keep hurting people.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Iron Will gives the audience a thumbs up. Even Pinkie Pie is caught off-guard.
- Break Them by Talking: See the first example for Break the Cutie above.
- The Cameo: This episode's Derpy cameo is just her at market and at Iron Will's seminar. The notable cameo is Pipsqueak, who appears for the first time since "Luna Eclipsed", and without his costume. He's in a blink and you miss it moment when Fluttershy is checking her shopping list.
- Call Back:
- Continuity Nod: Fluttershy briefly shows some of Flutterbitch's facial expressions.
- A small one, but the mailpony who appears pulling a cart and takes away his colleague for 'delivery' is the same one that delivered Applejack's letter to the Mane Six during The Last Roundup.
- In a rare case of continuity with background ponies, and one that's not a Fandom Nod at that, is that Golden Harvest/Carrot Top is seen hanging out with Noi again, her little sister from "Sisterhooves Social".
- The tourist pony that Fluttershy uses as a discus is the same pony that appeared in The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well during the run-away tram scene.
- Corrupt the Cutie: Not intentionally, but Iron Will turns Fluttershy into a total bitch.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: The cherry vendor could have sold the cherry to Fluttershy for anywhere between three and twelve bits, after Fluttershy's haggling failure, but instead sold it to somepony else for two bits. It really looked like he was just rubbing Fluttershy's desperation and lack of assertiveness in her face.
- Day in The Limelight: This is the first Fluttershy centered episode since A Bird In The Hoof, and the first one of season 2.
- Destination Defenestration: Angel apparently does this to Fluttershy. Over a salad, no less.
- Didn't Think This Through: Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Iron Will all try to teach Fluttershy how to be more assertive. None of them ever stop to consider the possibility of her starting to stand up to them as well. (This point actually isn't about "New Fluttershy" quickly going to unexpected extremes, for once; rather, it's about the basic fact that all three were pushing for her to change while still expecting their respective relationships with her to remain exactly the same as before.)
- Disproportionate Retribution: New Fluttershy's behavior is at least understandable during the first few times; ponies were pushing her around, but freaking out at someone for accidentally mixing up your mail and making you drop your letter in a puddle?
- Angel Bunny tosses Fluttershy out of a window because she didn't include the cherry in a salad. Which Angel only noticed in the first place because Fluttershy was apologizing about it.
- Duck Season! Rabbit Season!: Pinkie Pie tricks the pony selling tomatoes into giving her the tomato for one bit instead of two bits with this trope. She does it again with Iron Will, but Fluttershy accidentally ruins it.
- Exact Words: Iron Will's workshop guaranteed 100% satisfaction, or no payment. Fluttershy uses this to avoid having to pay Iron Will, because she wasn't satisfied.
- Pinkie Pie also relies on this to enforce her haggling techniques.
- Fluttershy pretty much took all of Iron Will's advice this way, which is at least part of the problem.
- Extreme Doormat: Fluttershy in the beginning of the episode. Lampshaded by both Rarity and Fluttershy.
- Extreme Omni Goat: The goats are seen munching on Pinkie's tail at one point.
- Fandom Nod: The only reason why Derpy would have a picture of a muffin on her saddlebag during the market scene.
- Also, the reason why Bon Bon has Lyra Heartstrings's saddlebag; their being friends is pretty much official by now.
- Also, the reason why Bon Bon has Lyra Heartstrings's saddlebag; their being friends is pretty much official by now.
- Feather Fingers: In one scene, Fluttershy uses a wing like a hand to open her saddlebags.
- Fisher King: When Fluttershy isolates herself due to realizing her recent horrid behavior, her normally pleasant little cottage becomes completely gloomy: The flowers and foliage disappears, the stream turns to a mud wallow, all the entrances including the bird houses and a burrow are all boarded up.
- And this all happens in the space of a few hours, even though the cottage looks like it's been abandoned for years.
- Flexing Those Non-Biceps: The nerdy pony tries this when Rarity is charming him for the asparagus.
- Foil: Iron Will could be seen as one to Trixie, Gilda, and the Flim Flam brothers, as he combines elements of all of them and still comes across much more sympathetically. He also leaves more gracefully and even learned something from his venture in Ponyville compared to the other three.
- Foreshadowing: Right after the scene at the market, a goat with a certain basket in its mouth can be seen leaving Fluttershy's place.
- Flutterbitch Made Me Do It: Before New Fluttershy takes completely over in the third act, Fluttershy alternate between her old, kind self and her new assertive side within moments, whenever she's being treated unfairly. Most noticeable when she leaves Sugarcube Corner.
- Forgot I Could Fly: It would have defeated the purpose of the story, but Bon Bon and Cherry Berry weren't technically in Fluttershy's way since Fluttershy could have flown over the canal. Fluttershy probably just refused to take that option, since it would have defeated the purpose of being assertive.
- Well, that and the fact that Fluttershy has always been portrayed as being more comfortable on hoof than on wing.
- Maybe she didn't want to fly over the smelly garbage?
- Funny Background Event: During the market scene, we see Lyra Heartstrings sitting at a table, bored, reaching for a drink as if wishing she had hands. She is soon joined by Bon Bon, and they strike up a conversation. Later, when Fluttershy tries to get the last cherry from the cherry stand, we see Derpy walk up to the asparagus stand, only to look disappointed when she finds they're out of stock.
- Furry Confusion: Not from the Minotaur but from his assistants, the herd of goats. One was seen in "May The Best Pet Win!" as a pet Rainbow Dash could choose. That said, none of the goats speak, so they may just be highly intelligent pets like Angel. Although Iron Will seems able to understand their bleating just fine...
- Furry Reminder: The goats again. While they're smart enough to understand English and competent enough to use machinery and headsets, they talk in bleats and chew on things like the Extreme Omnivore goats they are. One even tries to eat Pinkie's tail.
- The goats' eyes even have horizontal pupils like real goats, which is very unusual in a cartoon.
- Garden Hose Squirt Surprise: New Fluttershy to her gardener, when he refuses to admit he overwaters her flowers.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "New" Fluttershy comes pretty dang close to a common vulgar phrase during one of her rants:
- Grew a Spine: Iron Will tries to help Fluttershy do this. It works, a little too well.
- Gone Horribly Right: Rarity and Pinkie Pie tell Fluttershy she needs to stop being a doormat, and so she does.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck: Fluttershy's "give a flying feather".
- This could make Rainbow Dash's comment about Ditzy Doo being a "feather brain" from "Winter Wrap Up" much Harsher in Hindsight...
- Graceful Loser: Iron Will not only keeps his word about "free without 100% satisfaction", but also considers it a learning experience he might integrate into his lessons.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Guess who.
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: When Pinkie tries to stall Iron Will, they get into a round of this.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Iron Will sounds a lot like Chris Rager using his Mr. Satan/Hercule voice from Dragonball Z. Unfortunately, it's not him.
- Huddle Power: Iron Will conspires with his goat assistants briefly, and one looks up at Fluttershy before being pulled down again.
- I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham: Angel towards cucumber slices.
- I Gave My Word: Iron Will keeps his promise, when Fluttershy states that she's not satified with his advice, he leaves without a fight.
- Insistent Terminology: "Minotaur", not "monster".
- Jaw Drop: Pinkie at Fluttershy's assertiveness towards Iron Will.
- Jerkass: Bon Bon shows off her nastiness again along with other ponies and stall-owners, and the "New Fluttershy" becomes one after Iron Will's motivational seminar. Angel Bunny is also particularly horrible to Fluttershy, to the point of slapping her when she doesn't make him the right food, and throwing her and his food out of her own cottage when he doesn't get it made the exact way he wanted it.
- Jerkass Realization: The "New Fluttershy" doesn't know how far she has gone until after she insults Rarity and Pinkie Pie.
Fluttershy: Iron Will is not a monster! HE'S A MINOTAUR!!! (sees her angry reflection in a puddle) I'm the monster...
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Fluttershy goes from actually sticking up for herself against Ponyville's sudden infusion of total jerks to being a complete asshole as if the line weren't even there.
- Karma Houdini: Most of the Jerkass ponies from the marketplace.
- Angel, too. For his behaviour in this episode, he really deserved something more than just Fluttershy refusing to make him special salads anymore.
- Kick the Morality Pet: Fluttershy's assertiveness training works a little too well, and she begins acting like a jerk and treating even innocent ponies terribly. It isn't until her insults cause Rarity and Pinkie Pie to run away in tears that she realizes just how bad it's become.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Fluttershy when she splashes Mr. Green Hooves, kicking the carts full of trash over Bon Bon and Cherry Berry and demanding to Shoeshine to get back in the line. Sure, she may be a little bit crazy, but compared to the others, she still looks like an absolute saint.
- At least the ponies who were rude though. The others (including Rarity and Pinkie Pie), however, don't qualify for this trope. They're just minding their own businesses and happens to witness Fluttershy being assertive. She doesn't hurt any of them until her Kick the Morality Pet moment, but still...she sure ruins their day.
- Kind Restraints: Fluttershy boards up her home and has Angel tie her to a chair to ensure that her aggressive assertiveness doesn't hurt anypony else.
- Know When to Fold'Em: Iron Will in the end. He hadn't really done anything to make himself look bad to the ponies in general, and decides to keep it that way, making him different from virtually every other antagonistic character in the show thus far.
- It could easily be argued that he wasn't an antagonist at all. He certainly didn't do anything worse than hold a training seminar and wanted to get paid for it.
- Large Ham: Iron Will. He practically flexes in some way every time he talks.
Iron Will: No! When somepony tries to block, show them that YOU ROCK!
- Lonely Piano Piece: The Suspiciously Similar Song version of "The Lonely Man" accompanies Fluttershy's walk home after she realizes that she's become a monster.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: Assertiveshy has some powerful shouts, literally knocking small critters over. Iron Will can do this as well, and was probably her inspiration.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Iron Will, who acts tough for his seminar and to try and get his payment, but he really doesn't seem to mind too much about the money if Fluttershy isn't satisfied.
- Mirror Monologue: New Fluttershy give herself a peptalk before leaving her cottage.
- The Mirror Shows Your True Self: Twice. After Rarity and Pinkie Pie run off, Fluttershy sees her angry self in a puddle and realizes what she has become. The second time, she tells Rarity and Pinkie Pie that she's afraid of becoming a monster again if she were to attempt to assert herself. She then looks in the mirror and her reflection shows her with horns. Actually just the horns from Iron Will's torn photo taped to the mirror.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Angel Bunny was willing to eat the salad until Fluttershy apologized for missing out the cherry, which only brought it to his attention.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Iron Will appears to be an Expy of motivational speaker Tony Robbins with elements of Mr. T, Hulk Hogan, Randy "Macho Man" Savage, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. He even resembles Johnson's Brahma Bull logo.
- Non Standard Character Design: The Geeky Stallion.
- Old Dark House: Fluttershy's home becomes one, complete with boarded up windows and an unseen wolf Howling to the Night in the distance.
- Out-of-Character Moment: When New Fluttershy is getting angry with Pinkie and Rarity, she hovers around them, while she's normally the most earth-bound pony around. It looks like her self-confidence also re-inforced her confidence in her flight capacities.
- Picky Eater: Angel will only eat his salad with whipped cream and a cherry on top. He also dislikes cucumbers until Fluttershy uses The Stare and he eats them...and soon devours his whole salad!
- Power Echoes: New Fluttershy seems to have taken a leaf from Luna's book when she gets angry.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: The tune that plays when Fluttershy gets assertive is taken from Hungarian Dance No. 5 by Johannes Brahms.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: Played with, and ultimately defied. While Pinkie Pie and Rarity try to blame Iron Will for Fluttershy's wrongdoings in an attempt at making her feel better, Iron Will at no point acts like a real villain (ignoring a bluff or two) and Fluttershy takes responsibility for taking Iron Will's teachings too far.
- Rack Focus: While the show has used altering focus of foreground and background through numerous episodes, the one shot of Fluttershy, tied to a chair, looking back to her boarded up door, has been highlighted by several animation fans as one of the most impressive uses of the technique.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Iron Will is carrying an adorable shopping basket.
- Rhymes on a Dime: Iron Will's catchphrases.
Iron Will: When somepony tries to block, show them that YOU ROCK!
Iron Will: Never apologize when you can criticize!
- And so does Fluttershy when she repeats Iron Will's lessons:
Fluttershy: Maybes are for babies!
Fluttershy: You cut in line, I take what's mine!
Fluttershy: You make me lose, and I blow my fuse!
- Pinkie Pie as well
Pinkie: Fashion is her passion.
- Running Gag: Bon Bon has yet another, different voice. And so does Shoeshine/Linky!
- Sanity Slippage: Fluttershy becomes more of a complete bitch every hour.
- Schizo-Tech: The cutie mark for the nerd trying to buy asparagus is a robot. Also, Iron Will and his henchgoats all sport headsets and microphones, and their seminar stage has large loudspeakers.
- She Who Fights Monsters: After Fluttershy insults her friends and realizes that she's become the monster. Also alluded to when she sees her own reflection in the mirror with Iron Will's horns transposed on top of her head.
- Ship Tease: Popular fanon couple Lyra Heartstrings and Bon Bon get some background scenes in the marketplace. Bon Bon walks through the market wearing a saddlebag that has a clasp shaped like Lyra's cutie mark, while Lyra herself waits impatiently at a café table, and later they are seen sharing hay smoothies and talking together. Confirmed as an intentional insertion (though not necessarily a romantic one by one of the layout artists.
- Iron Will shares his name with a different Iron Will.
- Pinkie's method for bargaining with others is pretty familiar.
- Especially when she does it with Iron Will, who sounds like Yosemite Sam.
- Iron Will pities the fool who doubts his methods!
- The Assertiveness Seminar held by Iron Will, the minotaur, is held in the center of a hedge maze.
- Pinkie's "Fashion is her Passion." could be a reference to Bratz.
- Some of Iron Will's moves are reminiscent of another muscle-bound, ego-driven lunkhead, Johnny Bravo, especially the quick shuffle he does when confronting Fluttershy at the end.
- Probably unintentional, but this episode has striking similarities with an episode of The Powerpuff Girls, "Bubblevicious".
- Maybe a Whole-Plot Reference to the "counterdilemma of Euathlus", as seen here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_the_Court
- Iron Will's Leitmotif is basically The Jimmy Hart Version of "Eye of the Tiger".
- Stealth Pun: The maze Iron Will's seminar takes place in is grown from corn. A maze of maize.
- Also, Iron Will himself, a minotaur who espouses a philosophy that one should be aggressive, take what they want, and push people around before they can be pushed around. He is a bull bully.
- Suspiciously Similar Song:
- Talking to Herself: Andrea Libman voices both Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie. (A similar situation happened with Ashleigh Ball, Applejack's/Rainbow Dash's VA, in "Fall Weather Friends".)
- Teach Her Anger: Unfortunately.
- Tears of Joy: Rarity and Pinkie shed these when Fluttershy returns to her old self.
- Testosterone Poisoning: Iron Will
- That Mare Is Gone: New Fluttershy insists Old Fluttershy isn't coming back.
- Third Person Person: Iron Will talks this way. Fluttershy does this too when she begins to assert herself.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "New Fluttershy" gives a brutal one to Pinkie Pie and Rarity.
- Took a Level In Jerkass:
- New!Fluttershy, especially in the second phase of her rage.
- Angel too, who went from a mildly rude attitude to throwing his owner out of her house for a single cherry.
- Arguably, Ponyville as a whole. We don't usually see so many characters trying to take advantage of Fluttershy. Even Rarity's and Pinkie Pie's methods could be argued as a bit jerkish.
- Valley Mare: A couple of rude Ponyvillans would like you to move back; you're in their personal space.
- We Want Our Jerk Back: Inverted. Whereas a typical WWOJB plot involves teaching a Jerkass to be nice and having that lesson go too far and making the friends lament the change, here an attempt to teach Fluttershy to assert herself go so far that she's a raging Jerkass, causing her friends to lament the change.
- Wingding Eyes: Happens to Iron Will, with bits (currency used in Equestria).
- What Have I Become?: Fluttershy realizes what a jerk she's been after she hurts Rarity's and Pinkie Pie's feelings.
- Would Hit A Mare: Iron Will threatens to attack Fluttershy if she doesn't pay him the fee. More directly, he treats Rarity and Pinkie Pie quite roughly while trying to get into Fluttershy's cottage.
- Angel smacks her at the beginning of the episode while demanding a fancy salad.
- ↑ who, despite Word of God's denial, is portrayed in fanon as a Fourth Wall Observer
- ↑ who is portrayed in fanon as a Fourth Wall Observer, even after Word of God tried to shoot the theory down
- ↑ Don't worry folks, she's got her derp eyes back. And a muffin bag!
- ↑ Note that the clasp on any given pony's saddlebags tends to match their cutie mark. Which means Bon Bon is likely wearing something of Lyra's
- ↑ Not that corn mazes are anything unusual.