"Putting Your Hoof Down" is easily my least favorite episode of the whole series. It's written by two writers that I don't like, and it defies everything that the show stands for.
But why do I think this? There's five huge of reasons.
1: Angel Domestically Abuses Fluttershy
Right off the bat, the episode has problems. Its opening is basically Fluttershy feeding all of her animals. Angel doesn't except it, and throws his bowl of food onto her head. When she nearly begs him to eat his salad, he slaps her.
Yes. I know that this episode is about Fluttershy learning to assert herself, and this scene is supposed to be exposition. But the bowl on Fluttershy's head got the message across enough. There's animals having more power over their owner, and then there's domestic abuse. The irritating thing is that this is never brought up again. Fluttershy never punishes Angel for his horrible actions. He doesn't receive the punishment he so rightfully deserves until "Keep Calm and Flutter On".
2: The Jerks in Town Never Get Confronted Again
Normally, in a story like this one, when a shy character is being picked on by meaner characters, the shy character confronts these same characters as soon as he/she learns to be more assertive.
Guess what? Rather than confront these jerks again, Fluttershy just does it to others, deeming all of the abuse from earlier on pointless.
3: Some of Fluttershy's Actions Aren't Justifiable
Some of Fluttershy's actions are, like when someone is being actually mean to her, but it's the scene at Sugarcube Corner that bothers me. When Pinkie Pie offers to serve Fluttershy punch, and laughs, Fluttershy thinks that Pinkie is mocking her and drops the punch on her head, because, I don't know.
Sure. The episode is supposed to say that Fluttershy is taking her assertiveness training too far, but Pinkie is a pony that she's known for a while now. Shouldn't she be used to this by now?
4: Iron Will is Antagonized For No Reason Whatsoever
When Fluttershy locks herself away in her home, Rarity and Pinkie Pie go to her house to comfort her, and then blame Iron Will's teaching methods...
No, no, no. I never recalled Iron Will to tell Fluttershy to be mean to ponies for no good reason. All he said was that Fluttershy should never be shy, and should stand up for herself. How Fluttershy chooses to handle that is up to her, not Iron Will. The teacher gives you a basic method. It's up to you how to handle that method on your own terms.
And then it just antagonizes Iron Will. Granted, he leaves with his dignity intact, and he's probably the best minor character that the show ever had, but he's just doing his job, and trying to get the pay that he so rightfully deserves.
But none of these problems compare to the worst problem of the whole episode, which is also, in my eyes, the worst moment of the series.
5: Fluttershy Insulting Rarity and Pinkie Pie
"Why is this the worst moment of the show for you?" you may ask.
Fluttershy, in this scene, insults her two best friends, reason for living.
Don't believe me? Listen to some of these lines?
Fluttershy: Things getting too complicated for your simple little brain, Pinkie Pie?
Rarity: Now stop right there. Let's not let this descend into petty insults.
Fluttershy: Why not? I thought petty was what you're all about Rarity. With your petty concerns about fashion.
Pinkie: Hey, leave her alone! Fashion is her passion.
Fluttershy: Oh, and what are you passionate about? Birthday cakes? Party hats?
And the big one.
Fluttershy: I can't believe that the two most frivelous ponies in Ponyville are trying to tell New Fluttershy how to live her life, when they are throwing their lives away on pointless pursuits that nopony else gives a flying feather about!
Yes, I know. Fluttershy is taking her assertiveness training too far, but the way you insult someone goes to the very core of your emotions. Fluttershy shows no remorse, and only confidence when she tells Rarity and Pinkie Pie that they have no 'self worth.'
This, in my eyes, is the worst moment of the show. You create these characters that are so close to each other in their friendship, and then you create this scene, where one character completely betrays and defies all of her previous character traits that we have gotten to know and love over the course of the show thus far.
Let's look at Fluttershy's Discorded Self. The worst thing that that Fluttershy did was drop a bucket on Twilight's head. The worst thing that this Fluttershy did was consciously destroy the soul of her friends.
If Fluttershy's Discorded Self just made insults that sound like something a child would say, and this Fluttershy's insults make her friends question their own self worth, then it makes me wonder whether Fluttershy is out-of-character, or in character. I sure hope that she's out-of-character if this is the way the real Fluttershy acts.
This episode betrayed me. I actually despised Fluttershy after Putting Your Hoof Down, and I only started to like her with the emotionally touuching Hurricane Fluttershy. If it wasn't for It's About Time, Hurricane Fluttershy, and Ponyville Confidential, I would've given up on the series after this abysmal trainwreck of an episode.
I get that Fluttershy's assertiveness went too far. But there's a limit. A real big limit.
Funny, after this people started to like Fluttershy more. I couldn't.