I think we can all agree that Zephyr Breeze is the keystone of the episode, the driving force in most of the story and jokes. I wrote a blog post a bit ago about characterization and argued that Garble's character had "flattened" between Dragon Quest and Gauntlet of Fire to the point where he was just a generic villain stereotype rather than a more complex, relatable character. With Zephyr, the writers were clearly trying to hit a stereotype - something quickly and easily recognizable - and they achieved it: Zephyr is nothing more than the most obvious traits of the work-phobic self-labeled artist stereotype, at least for 90% of the episode. To me, having a character that is by definition highly predictable be the punchline to every joke, the center of interest in nearly every scene… it’s just not what the show was.
I think Simple Ways is a good comparison here: both episodes feature two of the Mane 6 and a new third character as the main set pieces to work with. In SW each character has expectations for the others that are constantly not being met, and the build-up to each broken expectation is subtle but clear. In Flutter Brutter, the expectation established by the writer is that Zephyr Breeze will manipulate others so that he doesn’t have to work… an expectation which is met every single time and in a fairly predictable manner. The only bit that I didn’t see coming was him getting Spike to clean the windows for him, a joke which was expressly re-told in Spike’s dialogue immediately afterward – you know, in case you didn’t get it.
The reason I keep writing about this stuff is because it still doesn’t feel like the “norm” for MLP:FiM to me. Out of almost 130 episodes, I thoroughly enjoy about 110 of them because of how well I feel they implement the sorts of things I talk about like subtlety and characterization. By all means feel free to leave comments whether you agree or disagree with me, I’m happy to hear/learn from another viewpoint; but if you’re inclined to just write something dismissive without explaining yourself I ask that you dismiss me silently and move on, since I’m not necessarily trying to assert a point more than I’m just expressing personal thoughts.