Spark's Analyses
Self-Made Equestria Games Q&A

So, because it would’ve been rather awkward to fit many of these points into my Mane Idea on the episode, I’m just posting my thoughts on a few questions I’ve seen popping up around the pony webs about the episode.

Q: Was Spike out of character in being intimidated by the crowds?

A: Just an easy one to start off with. No, I don’t think he was out of character in getting frightened. In Hearth’s Warming Eve he did perform in front of many other ponies, but there wasn’t nearly as many ponies there as there were at the games. In addition, he was also performing alongside his friends, and he had plenty of time to practice. We’ve also seen Spike be startled by unexpected things before, and he probably couldn’t even imagine how many ponies would actually be watching him beforehand. We’ve also seen that he poorly manages jobs that aren’t the norm for him and those that are suddenly thrust upon him, like pet-sitting.

Q: Would you have liked to see more of the games?

A: Yes, because I personally enjoy certain sports, and since this is an animated cartoon, I would’ve liked to see what they could come up with. I thought the concept of ice archery was really neat, so of course I would’ve like to see more things of that creative nature. However, I wouldn’t have liked it to just be about sports and the events. If there was enough dialogue between the characters to make it interesting in that regard as well, I would’ve been cool with it, but only sports is a no go.

Q: Did the episode live up to the hype?

A: In my books, it didn’t because all the hype was around the games, which we didn’t see much of. A lot of it was also around Dash’s event, and I was disappointed we didn’t at least get to see that in full. We didn’t even get to see the entirety of Rainbow’s leg because they decided to use part of that time to show Spike trying to make amends, which easily could’ve been done at another time, like when Bulk Biceps and Fluttershy were racing.

Q: Would you have liked to see the rest of the Mane 6 participate in something?

A: Yes and no. No, because there was no buildup to them competing beforehand and to have Rarity or Pinkie compete would have felt odd to me. Then again, having Fluttershy compete still feels so odd to me as well. Yes, because if there was some mention of it in previous episodes, it would’ve worked for AJ and we might’ve found out exactly why Twilight didn’t compete in everything. Sure, I at least think it’s pretty obvious it’s because she’s an Alicorn, but with no confirmation it’s still headcanon.

Q: How would you have felt about old characters returning?

A: I would’ve been cool with some cameos in the background, since that’s the kind of fan pandering/service that I enjoy seeing. Dialogue would have only worked for me if they were to have a prominent role in the plot. Just one or two lines would’ve felt like it was wasted since this show isn’t exactly known for bringing back old characters. Trixie was brought back for completion, and other than that, I can’t think of any non-godlike characters that have spoken in multiple episode, obviously not including background ponies that sometimes get a line or two. What I would’ve despised seeing is a mass gathering of past characters that are there just to be there and compete for whatever town they decide to be from. When one or two characters come back for an appearance, and it’s a meaningful one, it just gives you this really good feeling since you get to learn more about them (Hopefully) and it doesn’t happen often. If >5 characters just popped in for a 20 minute episode and all were given speaking lines, it really would’ve ended up just leaving us where we were with them before the episode, and it would also probably mean we wouldn’t get to see them again for quite some time. tl:dr If they played an important role in the episode, and it was a very small number, then yes. Otherwise, no.

Q: Is the magic disabler utter bullshit?

A: Undoubtedly yes.

Q: Did the episode provide closure to the Equestria Games arc? (If you can really call it that)

A: I really feel it did. We didn’t get to see all of the games, but it’s kind of hard to squeeze ~10 minutes of games and ~10 minutes of conflict and get all that you want from each, unless you interwind the two, but it’s hard to have conflict and dialogue in the middle of fast paced competition and make a good conflict out of it. The one between AJ and Dash in Fall Weather Friends works because long distance running occurs at a slower pace. But, what the episode did provide closure on, was the CMC’s flag carrying mission and Dash’s relay against the Wonderbolts. It showed the CMC fulfilling their duties flawlessly, and it showed us Dash being barely out stretched by Spitfire in the relay. It gave us an end result to two plot lines presented in previous episodes, and other than mentions of the games, those were the two episodes that gave us specific things to look forward to in the episode, and those two things received closure.

Q: What would you have done with the episode?

A: I would’ve liked to see a Dash episode because the setting suits her the best. There’s other characters and situations I’d like to be touched on, but for the setting of this episode, a Dash one would’ve felt the most natural. The conflict I would’ve enjoyed is one about dealing with not letting personal issues of conflicts get in the way of a team effort or competition. Have Lightning Dust come back, have the group arrive a few days before the games, have Dash and Dust exchange a few words resulting in the former becoming infuriated or something of the sort, have her begin pushing Flutters and Bulk in the last few days before the game, have her basically become blind to what she said on the train, have Flutters and Bulk either walk out on her (Less likely) or just refuse to go through the vigorous training any longer saying it’ll tire them out before the games (More likely), have Dash storm out on them and bump into Scoots, have her remind Dash of what she said on the train after Scoots hears why she’s angry, have Dash make up and deliver the moral, and finally have them enter the stadium with the CMC’s shows, lose to Spitfire, but have Dash catch up to and beat Lightning Dust to fill up the remaining time. To satisfy the needs of those who want to see what kind of events are in the games, when returning from commercial breaks or changing scenes, show the stadium on the way to wherever the scene takes place, and include some sport occurring in the stadium. Personally, I’m more interested in what sports take place than watching ponies partake in them for more than a few seconds to get the gist of it.

That’s all I’ve got, but if anyone has a question they’d like my answer to, just drop one off, and thanks for reading! 

Mane Ideas: Equestria Games

So, since finals are coming up and there’re some other things I’d like to do before I “launch” a channel on youtube for video review/analysis/whatever it is I do on here, I haven’t been doing my usually weekly Mane Ideas, passing up on Trade Ya and Inspiration Manifestation. Despite this, I’m doing one on The Equestria Games right now instead of after finals because firstly, soccer just ended so I have a little more time, and secondly, because it’s a really hot topic right now, and from what I’ve seen people are pretty split on it. And that’s really what I enjoy about reviewing and analyzing. I just love the feeling of being part of a discussion or debate that multitudes of others are a part of as well, and I enjoy having my opinion heard, even if for now it’s only by a few people. Just forming an opinion on something is an incredibly fun thing to do, and going into why that’s my opinion is even better. Since it’s fresh and I’m feeling extremely into it that normal this time around, I’ll just be going with it, meaning I might get a tad rambly at times, but bear with me. Also a disclaimer, the first part will focus on the negative, while the second will focus on the positive. However, I highly suggest reading the entire work.

So I’m just going to start with the thing that has put a lot of people in a tizzy: having people completely disregard the episode because it didn’t live up to their expectations of what they thought should be the Equestria Games. I’ll admit, it bothered me a decent bit, but not enough to break the episode. Yes, I would’ve liked to see more events. No, I wouldn’t have liked to see only events and have no real character interaction or complex plot and moral. What really bothers me though, is that it would have been possible to incorporate more of the games into the episode without sacrificing the plot, but it didn’t. Lets start with a scene that I really thought was pretty pointless, since all it does is explain what Twilight’s going to do and why she’s doing it. Basically what happens is Twilight walks up to her friends outside of the stadium, tells them that she lit the fire instead of Spike, then they tell her she needs to tell him the truth…which she already knew she had to do before talking to them. Spike eventually finds them, explains how he thinks he had mind fire powers, then tries to burn an autograph he just made for someone. After this, which takes nearly two minutes out of the episode, Twilight leads Spike away from the group and explains the situation to him in around thirty seconds. That thirty seconds was all that was needed. Twilight could’ve just walked up to Spike while he was trying to burn the autograph and explained the situation to him in about a minute, but instead we sit around and firstly reiterate what we already know, and then soak up the fact Spike thinks he has psychic powers for a minute when we already absorbed all the juice in the first ten seconds. This time could have instead been set aside for Rainbow’s relay event, so that instead of cutting in the middle of it to visit Spike, we could have focused on that with no interruptions for its whole duration., instead of having a completely unrelated scene kill the intense mood that was building through the previous sequence. It also didn’t help the event at all by having teasers for the episode shows Spitfire narrowly beating Dash. Afterwards, the Spike scene with Mrs. Harshwhinny could have occurred, showing a different event in the background. This would’ve been a better use of time, it wouldn’t have effected the plot of the episode whatsoever, and it would have somewhat helped to satisfy the wants of those who desperately wanted to see more about the Equestria Games in general.

Now, there is one more sort of nitpicky thing that really got me this episode. The magic disabling spell is the main thing that made me say bullshit on my second watch. On my first watch through, I guess I wasn’t really thinking about it much. I thought it was nice that they at least made a reasonable excuse as for why no unicorns or alicorn princessess could use magic to stop the ice cloud. Then on my second watch through, I put two and two together, and realized how much sense it actually doesn’t make. The other two was the fact Twilight used her magic to light the fire for Spike. Now, the guard says something along the lines of “from now on all unicorns must have their magic disabled” as if this was just implemented. Honestly though, that explains nothing. When Twilight used the spell, it obviously appeared as if no one saw her. Luna had a little look on her face, but it was more of a face of someone wondering what happened, instead of knowing who or what interfered. If someone had blatantly seen her do it, like Celestia, and wanted to ensure there was no interference after it, then yes, I could possibly see this measure being implemented. But no one saw that, so the only explanation is that they just randomly decided to start doing disabling to unicorns in the middle of the games, which does make it a plot device. There’s also the possibility that they did it since the beginning, but then Twilight would’ve been unable to light the fire for Spike. There’s a possibility that the princesses didn’t have to get the spell, but then why don’t they dispel the ice cloud immediately after it was formed? The whole disabling this literally just makes zero sense, and since it effect the plot by a pretty large amount, I can’t just leave it out. Just some other things I didn’t enjoy were Spike still getting abused at various points in the beginning and middle of the episode and the scene with Spike and the CMC immediately after the theme. I can’t really say why I didn’t enjoy that particular scene other than that it felt boring and didn’t really give the episode a good foot to start out on, or at least it didn’t carry over the steps in the right direction the opening scenes had taken. Oh yeah, and Cadence still remains the blandest character in the show. Add this episode to the list of ones with her that make me lose faith we’ll ever see any of the Cadence from the comic arc.

And with that, it’s time to get into the good of this episode, or just some quick opinions on it. I really felt like this episode was kind of an opposite to Somepony to Watch Over Me in that while that episode had a good beginning, and a crappy ending, this episode was just the opposite, although it did have some good sprinkled into the first few parts. I thought a few of the visual gags, like Spike using his head like a lighter, were neat, and I loved the awkwardness of the singing scene. When not spouting useless expository dialogue, the conversation between characters felt natural and showed growth in some. Especially Rainbow’s actions. Her pep talk and treatment of Scoots shows her growth, as well as her reaction to being beaten by Spitfire. She’s neither intimidated by her like she once was, nor is she angered by her loss. She knew beforehand she wouldn’t win, and she was just glad to be doing what she loved in front of her idols and fans. Twilight was fantastic throughout the episode, showing compassion for Spike while also giving him some tough love for the better. This episode shows how she’s become more like Celestia by having her help teach Spike his lesson, as well as trying to provide support for him. What we did see of the games that was new, the ice archery, I thought was pretty awesome. The most important good thing about the episode is just the fact that I enjoyed watching it, which can be heavily contributed to the moral of the episode.

As an athlete who really struggles with self confidence, the moral of believing in ones self being most important is one I can easily relate too. Like Spike, I have plenty of confidence heading into things, especially if I know I have the right tool to complete whatever task needs to be done beforehand. However, if I make one little slip up, everything spirals downward. Like Spike, I try to do things I can’t possibly do to try to fix my mistakes. It’s either that, or I just skip to Spike’s reaction to his second failure, and sulk around in the fact I’m not good enough. And, like Spike, plenty of people tell me I am good enough, but that’s easily ignored if you have trouble forgetting about your mistakes and moving on. You can’t let other help you move on until you let yourself move on, and that’s exactly what Spike realizes here. The only difference is that I’ve realized it before, but it still doesn’t stop me from being out of it for a minute or two before I can move on from it and continue. I really love this kind of growth in Spike, since he’s one of the characters with the most potential at the moment, seeing as not many episodes have dealt with him. And really, it’s why I watch the show in the first place. The amazing animation, phenomenal voice acting, and catchy music are all just icing on the cake to me. What really sells me that this show has is amazing characters and character growth. What sets this show’s character apart from all the rest are how relatable they, and their problems, are. This episodes moral and conflict really  exemplify both of those things, and it’s really why I can’t dislike this episode, because the good easily outweighs the bad.

Are there problems with this episode? Hell yes there are. Are there enough problems to say this is one of the worst episodes the show has produces? No, because this episode is a prime example of what makes the show great. Now there weren’t really many little things I can point out that I enjoyed in this episode since my main reason for liking it resides with the meat of the episode, but I can dig up a few things. Seeing who was important enough for a VIP seat was interesting, especially Cherry Jubilee. I didn’t include this in my section on bad things, since this isn’t really bad, but instead it’s something I personally dislike, and that’s excessive fan pandering. Every time Fluttershy says “Yay” now I cringe because it’s so forced it bothers me. Bulk Biceps saying “YEAH” a lot if fine since it’s been established that it’s his shtick. Fluttershy didn’t start saying “Yay” at every possibly moment, at least to my knowledge, until Season Four, and it really bothers me. Derpy doesn’t because she’s subtle and is just kinda there. This does because it just randomly became a thing when it used to be a one time only things, and it interrupts the flow of the episodes because it. is. so forced. Now that I’m done ranting about yaying, I’ll go ahead and wrap this up. The episode definitely had its flaws in that it was overhyped, spoiled something that would’ve been interesting before the airing, and had a horrible inconsistency, but two of these things can be ignored because they weren’t actually part of the episode, instead being outside forces. This really just leaves the inconstancy, and it, along with some wasted time, isn’t enough to completely balance out the good brought by the conflict between Spike and himself, and the eventual moral and overall enjoyment of the episode. So, I hope I’ll you’ll come back to check out my Mane Ideas on the finale, which I hope I’ll have the time to throw together either the day of, or sometime that week!

P.S. Either tomorrow or Wednesday I’ll be posting a self made Q&A about this episode. The questions will be ones that I’ve seen come up in comments to other people’s reviews or analyses, or one that I would just like to answer about the episode in that particular format. Hope you’ll check it out!

Really can’t thank my pal Ex enough for drawing my OC! I’ll be using him for my videos, which I’ve finally got everything I need to make. However, once I start making videos, I want them to be of the highest quality I can make them. With that said, with finals coming up soon, and with a large school/sports workload at the moment, I think it is safe for me to say that I will begin video analysis once summer hits, and I have enough time to put real time into my scripts and my editing. I’ll still be doing analysis on this blog as consistently as possible, and if I have time, I’ll probably do some recordings. Hope you guys stick around for them :P

Really can’t thank my pal Ex enough for drawing my OC! I’ll be using him for my videos, which I’ve finally got everything I need to make. However, once I start making videos, I want them to be of the highest quality I can make them. With that said, with finals coming up soon, and with a large school/sports workload at the moment, I think it is safe for me to say that I will begin video analysis once summer hits, and I have enough time to put real time into my scripts and my editing. I’ll still be doing analysis on this blog as consistently as possible, and if I have time, I’ll probably do some recordings. Hope you guys stick around for them :P

Mane Ideas: Testing Testing 1, 2, 3

This episode is just…wow, this episode. In terms of sheer enjoyment, Testing Testing 1, 2, 3 is among of the best of the best for FiM, and anything I’ve ever watched. Besides the fact that it was a bit straightforward with what it was trying to say, this episode was flawless, and the fact it was straightforward is in no way a bad thing. It just has so much in it to love. The animation is some of the best in the show, the writing is top notch, every character is written believably, and the dialogue is easily the best of the series, or at least somewhere near the top.

The main reason for the dialogue being so amazing is just how well Twi and Dash’s characters work together. They’ve got similarities in that they’re both passionate about something, learning for the former and flying for the latter, and they both suffer from self-doubt. This passion and strive to be the best at what they do provides a connection when they’re at their highest, and the shared self-doubt provides a connection for when they’re at their lowest. How they go about their passion and doubt is what separates them, and is what helps to make many of this episodes moments work fantastically. Twilight pursues her passion with every ounce of her being. Since she wants to be the best, she focuses on leaving no possibility for failure, and to her, failure is anything below perfection. This is why she keeps lists for everything, and sing freak out arias. Dash is still very passionate about her flying, but she is the type of person who’s “perfection” is achieving her dreams in the most efficient way possible, by pretty much doing the bare minimum that she needs to make it, but still making it. This is, to put it bluntly, just due to her lazy personality interfering with her drive to succeed. In terms of coping with self-doubt, Twilight does it by relying on her friends, usually Spike, and the ponies around her to reassure her of her talents. On the other hand, Rainbow shuts out others when she is in her moments of extreme self-doubt, and she doesn’t escape this detrimental state of mind until she reassures herself of her abilities, like in Sonic Rainboom, when she goes from extreme anxiety back to being full of herself after saving the Wonderbolts. Another difference is that whereas Twilight almost immediately begins doubting herself as soon as a problem arises, at least until Season Four, Dash usually retains her confidence until she’s clearly stuck in a ditch, which is shown in this episode when she realizes she knows nothing about the Wonderbolts’ history. These different ways of handling self-doubt are what make the scene in which Twilight attempts to console Dash work so believably. Twilight, seeing as she relies on friends to build her up, attempts to do this with Rainbow, only to fail at cheering her up because she relies on herself to restore her confidence.

The other reason this scene, and all the scenes involving dialogue between the two, is one of my favorites is just because of how much I can relate to it. I’ve been in Dash’s position a number of times because I am an insane perfectionist when it comes to everything, and just one little misplay can ruin me for at least a few minutes. Friends sometimes try to help me get over it, but it usually just makes things worse because they typically have to bring up what I did wrong to tell me to cheer up. And, to be honest, it’s really crappy to be that way because feeling mopey over a few little mistakes usually just leads to me making even more mistakes, depending on the situation. Then again, I’ve also been on Twi’s side of things before. When one of my friend’s is feeling down or something of the sorts, it’s hard for me to not attempt to cheer them up, but I have to remember how I get when I’m on the self pity side of things. The other dialogue between these two I can really relate to is the discussion that takes place in the opening scene. Like I said before, I’m a perfectionist, but I’m also incredibly lazy. If I set a deadline for myself, like how I try to put out one analysis before the next episode, whatever I’m doing will likely to be done at the last possible moment, like it is right now. In addition, if I don’t have an interest in something, it’s extremely difficult for me to sit down and make sure I understand it, even if afterwards I get angry with myself for not understanding it perfectly. It’s an odd mixture that typically consists of, “I want to do this, but I don’t want to do it now, even though I enjoy doing it.” So the little tidbit Twi says about Rainbow being so passionate about something but going about it so lazily is basically the argument I have with myself on a day to day basis. I also have a problem with things slipping out of my mind right after I think of them…which just happened after I typed that last sentence…darn.

Another thing that just made the episode as a whole that much more relatable was the subject matter of learning and teacher versus student. The debate that occurred after Twi’s pop quiz was especially intriguing for me, since it brought up so many legitimate points about education and other things. The first thing that caught my ear was the part about what knowing the Wonderbolts’ history had to do with becoming one. Knowing their history sure as hell doesn’t help a pony fly better, so Dash has a legitimate point. Twi has one as well, since to be able to represent an organization, one should know what they stand for. I actually like how the episode left the question without any resolution since it’s actually a topic that is pretty even both ways. The fact that Dash ended up learning the history in the end isn’t really a legitimate stance since she didn’t really learn it because she thought it was necessary for becoming a Wonderbolt, but really because she had to to get on the reserves. The other point this argument raises is the bit about Twilight knowing the history and having wings, so she should just become a Wonderbolt, followed by Dash shooting her down because she didn’t really know how to use them. This statement is pretty much what I thought of Twi’s first attempts at teaching Dash prior to this argument. Twilight had the knowledge of the Wonderbolts’ history, and she had been a student under Princess Celestia for years, and had taught herself for a while, but that doesn’t necessarily make her a great teacher. Basically, what it’s saying is just because someone knows the subject they teach, can lecture on it, and can tell students to make flash cards about, it doesn’t mean they should be a teacher. This whole episode really just exploits why a lot of teachers in today’s schools don’t get their job done, although a lot of it is due to class size prohibiting real world teachers from doing what Twi is able to do with Dash.

The episode showing that the best way to teach someone is to first spend time with them is one of a few ideas and morals this episode has, a few of which I’ve already discussed. Now, the episode’s main lesson is that everyone learns differently, or really that everyone has a preferred style of learning that works best for them. The episode, however, doesn’t just stick this moral out there and leave it to hang. That’d just be too easy. It goes on to show that the way to find out how someone learns is to spend time with them, and more precisely, find out what their interests are. The episode tells us that if you find someone’s interests, which they are generally knowledgeable about, you can usually find out how they accumulated this knowledge. For example, if someone is obsessed with watching sports, and gets all they know about them from Sports Center, then it’s easy to deduce that they could learn best from something like a movie with subtitles on the subject. 

The majority of what I liked about this episode all comes from one thing: the writing. Amy Keating Rodgers really outdid herself with this episode. The foreshadow in the beginning was fantastically done, and the pacing kept the episode flowing, allowing the scenes to develop without wasting any time. Every ounce of dialogue served a purpose that it achieved, the plot was very well put together, being able to include the whole mane cast without it being forced, and the moral was a very relatable and resounding one. The writing for this episode alone would be enough to make it a top episode, but then it got coupled with stunning visuals (Although I’ll admit I didn’t love the transitions but that’s just me), and an amazing song, also with amazing visuals. 

Despite the amazingness of everything about this episode, a large part of it was just the massive amount of things that were just fun to watch and laugh about. For fun to watch, I could really just say the entire episode. There was no part of this episode that felt boring in the slightest. The first thing I love is how Spike was actually good in this episode, even without any lines. He finally wasn’t just the butt of all the jokes. Nor was he just the stupid one that says things that don’t need to be said. It was AJ’s turn for that. The chair rock and Pinkie rap were both just amazing. The pets ruining Spike’s hopes and dreams as a playwright was quite enjoyable, especially Spike’s reactions. Rarity was the best she’s ever been, with her willingness to ignore harsh comments for the sake her friend, and her amazing faces throughout the episode. And then there’s AJ, who decided to just secretly earth pony magic herself on up to the observatory deck of Twi’s tree house. Scratch that, she probably just lassoed the tree and pulled herself up. Or held on to Pinkie’s tail or something. I just really want to know how she got up there. I also loved seeing Rainbow’s house again. I seriously cannot get enough of how amazing that thing looks. Actually, I’d say it looks as amazing as this episode is fantastic. So, that’s about all I’ve got! 9.9/10 for not answering my AJ question, and I’ll probably see whoever reads this rubbish sometime in the middle of this week thanks to Spring Break giving me some extra time. See ya then!

Also, I feel your Applejack pain. Pattern: She gets turfed in Rainbow episodes. :D Thoughts? (Because she's level-headed, and would solve Rainbow-related issues immediately?)
Anonymous

Well, from my perspective at least, pretty much the entire cast gets turfed in the key episodes, unless it’s their key episode. The keys have all been about that certain pony’s element, and everypony has come to their own revelation of sorts about their element on their own. Sure there was some prodding, but this was generally from outside characters (Seabreeze, Soarin, etc.) and these characters didn’t flat out tell the key pony what they weren’t seeing. To be honest though, it makes sense none of the Mane 6 play a direct role in helping each other discover their key. Each pony’s element is unique to them, and they have a better understanding of it that anypony else in the group. Really, only Twilight has consistently noticed when one of her friends is having any inner turmoil, and I suppose this makes sense since she’s the princess of friendship. It makes just as much sense that she really can’t help them much since she has little experience in the fields they need guidance in, and she flat out tells this to Dash in Rainbow Falls. So, yeah, she and the rest of the cast definitely get turfed in key episodes apart from their own, but I don’t think she gets thrown away because she could solve it. Instead, I think it’s because she and the rest of them can’t directly solve the problem that they seem to have less of a direct role in the resolution of key conflicts, really only showing up for plot progression, laughs, and to just make the episode more enjoyable. 

Mane Ideas: Leap of Faith

Leap of Faith is a pretty weird episode for me. On one hand, it had a lot of things I love in it, mainly great character development, but it also did some things that weren’t necessarily bad, but bored me. What makes this split stand out for me in that it makes it hard for me to decide whether I liked the plot of the episode, or thought it was boring. From the second you’re told Granny Smith is afraid to swim ever again, and that Flim and Flam have created a tonic, you know it’s going to be a standard placebo effect plot line. But, thanks to Applejack finally having a great episode in which she isn’t just being used for gags, sarcastic comments, or advice, the episode was somewhat redeemed for being extremely predictable. Since the negatives list for this episode contains only one thing besides the predictable plot, I’m just going to go over that first. 

After watching the episode a third time around, I noticed that this episode was too similar to another key episode, Fluttershy’s. While this episode was much, much better than Breezies, the conflict and its resolution follow the same pattern, and they teach pretty much the same thing in different ways. Or, at least what the member of the Mane cast learned was very similar. In both episodes, the main character chooses not to do what is the greater good in order to keep their Breezies/Granny happy. AJ withholds the truth from Granny Smith because she doesn’t want her to lose her happiness, even though she may hurt herself, and Fluttershy chooses to make the breezies happy by letting them stay with her, even though if they stay for long they won’t make it back. To an extent, Fluttershy is withholding the truth from the breezies by ignoring it herself. Both conflicts arrive at their resolution after the pony/breezie they want to protect almost gets themselves killed, causing both to realize that sometimes you have to tell the truth, possibly angering that person, for a positive outcome. It’s obvious AJ realizes this, but I think Fluttershy realizes pretty much the same thing in realizing she needed to stop ignoring the truth and take action to save the breezies. While this isn’t totally a bad thing, and even though I probably looked into this way to hard and made a few too many stretches, it just bothers me that two character’s key episodes were so similar in something other than the fact they discovered something about their element.

For the first time in a long while in an episode centered around her, AJ was as strong as ever in this episode. For the first time, we see her torn between two things that truly make up who she is: her family and her element. The episode makes great use of the fact that it’s been drilled into our heads that AJ would do anything for her family by using it as the thing that causes her to go against her element. This makes for a believable conflict, and provides a good way of getting you enticed with the episode so that you don’t notice the obvious plot. Another thing to notice is that by having AJ admit to lying after Granny Smith almost hurt herself, it confirms that AJ holds her element and her family on nearly even grounds inside her head. Only when she was sure that telling the truth would be good for both her family and her morals did she stand up and do it. I also loved the scene before Aj confronted Flim and Flam for the first time. The conversation between her and Apple Bloom reaffirms the lesson she learned in Somepony to Watch Over Me by showing her talking to Bloom like she’s not a little kid anymore, as well as by having AJ send Bloom in the other direction all alone in order to catch Silver Shill. 

Another thing I loved about the conflict and moral of the episode is that, while it was pretty standard moral about telling the truth from the beginning, the way it presented the moral went beyond that of “saying things that aren’t true is bad.” The episode presents three different kinds of lying, represented by the actions of four characters. The Flim Flam brothers lie through exaggeration by saying their tonic can do things it can’t. AJ lies by omission by not telling the citizens of Ponyville that the tonic is a sham. Silver Shill takes the role of the standard lier in the episode by pretending to be crippled, and he also basically does what Coco Pommel did before by flipping sides at the end, making him a pretty boring character in my books. The way the episode portrays all of these styles of lying without flat out saying it in the journal entry is really nice, mainly because it leaves very few grey areas, seeing as all three parties are somewhat in the wrong at some point (Even though AJ was trying to be in the right).

Now it’s finally time to talk some Flim Flam. I just love the Flim Flam brothers so much because they bring a style of entertainment to the show that no one else can. It bothered me to no end that the writer of Cider Squeezy ended up making the Mane 6 be super ponies and the brother’s brains fall out of their heads in the latter end of the episode, because until that point, the amount of control over the situation that the brother had gave them an amazing presence and entertainment value. In this episode, it’s nice to see them return somewhat to how they acted in the majority of their previous episode. They seem smart enough to know that if the apple family finds their sales tent in Ponyville, they’ll need a way to keep the family from ruining their business. This is more than likely the reason that they straight up tell AJ what’s in the tonic. If they lied to her, and they said it could really do all the things the song said it could, it would prompt AJ to tell everyone since it obviously didn’t do those thing to Granny Smith and she knew that no tonic could do that anyways. However, by telling her exactly what was in the tonic and directing her focus to Granny’s happiness, they were able to keep her mouth shut by appealing to her family bonds and honesty. This worked until a family member was put at risk because of her keeping her mouth shut, which leads to AJ doing whatever is necessary to save them. And this is a really accurate representation of the salespeople Flim and Flam are based off of. In order to sell your product, you need to control the people’s opinion in order to make them have a positive opinion of it, which results in sales. Flim and Flam saw how the citizens of Ponyville felt and respected the Apples towards the end of Cider Squeezy, and they knew that the Apples would more than likely oppose anything they tried to sell in Ponyville. Therefore it just makes sense that to sell in Ponyville, you need to control the Apple family’s opinions, which they  did by luring in Granny with the promise of becoming young, then capitalizing on AJ’s care for her family. Flim and Flam also get bonus points for skedaddling right on out of Ponyville when they realized it was a lost cause instead of conforming to the orange ways of honesty. Plus new song is good.

The last actually question I want to touch upon is why Granny Smith bought the tonic. My thoughts on it are that it was because she legitimately had no idea the Flim Flam brothers were scamming her. In Cider Squeezy, she only tasted one of the good cups of their cider, and by the look on her face, she thought it was actually good. Therefore, she knew that while of course the quickly made cider was crud, the machine they built actually worked on normal settings. This, along with the fact that she craved to be young and able to do things again, would be enough of a prompt for her to buy their tonic. 

And now for random things I want to mention. It would’ve been pretty funny to see Sweetie Belle in the audience for Flim and Flam’s song since they made her interest in show tunes canon. Big Mac is strangely terrifying without his neck thingy. The little chant Granny and Apple Bloom do before the swimming competition actually kept me laughing for a solid minute. Lyra is best background pony, sorry AJ. The coin as the key felt really weird, since all the other keys were really unique items, while this was just a run of the mill coin. That’s all for this week’s episode, and I can’t wait for today’s episode after seeing the three clips released. So, until then!

Mane Ideas: For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils

This episode is undeniably one of the top episodes of Season Four and the entire show. Everything from the amazing animation and transitions to the fantastic writing by Dave Polsky is spot on and makes for a very enjoyable episode. It felt like a great way to get back to the basics of the show with a character driven conflict without the exaggeration of Somepony to Watch Over Me or the focus on a one and done character like Maud Pie. Mix in Sweetie Belle and Rarity being amazing along with some Luna, and we’re in business.

Now the thing that immediately puts the episode in my high regards is everything about the conflict. The set-up gave it enough of a basis and depth to be believable, considering we already know Rarity’s ego and crave for admiration of her works can sometimes fuel her generosity, by quickly establishing Sweetie’s position in the conflict, without dawdling on exposition like in Three’s a Crowd. We immediately learn of Sweetie’s efforts in making the play a success, see her showing pride in her accomplishments, and are shown that she is reluctant to get Rarity’s help since she wants the play to be done all by herself. In this sequence, we’re actually presented with a sort-of mini conflict that will hopefully be explored in another episode. Sweetie says she didn’t ask Rarity for help earlier because she wanted to do everything herself, while Apple Bloom and Scootaloo thought she just wanted everything to be perfect. The fact Sweetie eventually decides to ask Rarity for help is a subtle nod towards the side of collaboration for perfection over pride. Sometimes our own pride in ourselves can get in the way of making our work the best it can possibly be. 

The best part about the conflict is how believable it is between the two characters it consists of. My favorite conflicts in the show are ones like this, that focus on the character’s in depth traits and personalities rather than external forces. I still like the fantasy setting, but prefer it as a backdrop or as a background conflict of sorts. Rarity’s typical flauntiness with her generosity could easily be perceived as attempting to steal the spotlight, especially by Sweetie Belle, who expected everyone in the audience to be congratulating her instead of Rarity. The fact Rarity seems oblivious at first as to why Sweetie is angry is also a great part of the conflict. Rarity wasn’t at the play or the reception afterwards to hear everypony  praise her dresses instead of Sweetie’s everything else, so how would she have been able to know she had stolen the spotlight? This act also boosts Sweetie’s anger even further, since she’s probably been too focused on the fact that Rarity took her spotlight again to remember this fact. Sometime not knowing and being innocently oblivious can be taken as simply not caring if you don’t have the whole picture, like Sweetie Belle. And the thing is, neither can really be blamed in this conflict. Sweetie is still obviously in the wrong to the viewer, but from her perspective, Rarity did it again and won’t admit to it. To Rarity, Sweetie’s just being unreasonable and needs time to simmer down before she can apologize for whatever she did wrong. This leads to Sweetie confirming her suspicions that Rarity stole the show on purpose and doesn’t care about Sweetie’s hard work. It isn’t like Rarity is just avoiding a confrontation with Sweetie out of spite either. It’s been shown before in Sisterhooves Social that their relationship can become quite awkward under times of conflict. While Rarity does learn about how to be a good sister to Sweetie, the ending moral of the episode is more about getting along in day to day life together rather than directly resolving conflicts between each other. It’s more about preventing conflicts from happening than fixing them once they’ve begun, meaning it’s reasonable for Rarity to be intimidated by Sweetie’s anger in the episode. 

Another interesting thing to note about the conflict in the episode is how much it parallels to Sweetie’s fifth birthday party. They, of course, both involve Sweetie believing Rarity to be stealing the show when she is really just trying to help Sweetie, but it goes a bit deeper than that. The line that pretty much gives it away if you haven’t already picked up on it is when Rarity says, “All of these things were Sweetie Belle’s idea. I just assisted with the execution.” Sweetie came up with the idea of party favors and cake, and Rarity created them and made them a reality for her. It was Sweetie’s ideas meeting Rarity’s creativity. The present day play also involves Sweetie’s ideas for the play, which was basically everything in it, meeting Rarity’s creative flair with the costumes. This shows a really neat dynamic between the two that could possibly be explored in later episodes, with Sweetie Belle being the idea pony and Rarity being the one who makes everything a reality. The fact Sweetie was able to actually do everything besides the costumes on her own shows lots of growth in her overtime, which is always nice to see, especially since that seems to be the CMC’s theme this season. 

Now let’s talk a little bit about everyone’s favorite Moonbutt. I love how she and Celestia’s relationship was connected to Sweetie and Rarity’s because it works so perfectly, but I never thought of it that way. Luna might go a bit rough on Sweetie, but it all fits since Luna’s back story with revenge is so heavy. The best thing Luna brought to the table this episode, besides her best princessness, was the ability to look at different perspectives. One of my favorite teachers always said that perspective was everything, and this episode really proves it. We have Sweetie Belle on one side, who just wants to get back at Rarity for stealing her spotlight then basically blowing her off to finish some projects, and without Luna, this is the only perspective we would’ve had. Now, it would still be easy to assume Rarity wasn’t really doing that seeing as Sweetie is still young and overreacting. We also could’ve gotten Rarity’s side of it at a later time in the episode, after the conflict had been resolved in some way or another. However, this would have made it difficult for Sweetie to learn her lesson by seeing that all Rarity wanted to do was to help her sister in both her party and her play. Then we have the third party perspective, and that’s Luna. Drawing from her past, she obviously sees this as a serious matter, and she recognizes Sweetie is in the wrong, like she was a thousand or so years ago. Since Luna has been in Sweetie’s position, she has a better understanding of how to handle the situation as well, but she also goes all in with the execution because of her own tragic past. Instead of simply telling Sweetie flat out  that she’s wrong and risking an argument of some sort, Luna uses the power of perspective to allow Sweetie to come to her own conclusion that she is in the wrong. 

The three Christmas Carol scenes teach Sweetie something about Rarity and her perspective on things. The first is that Rarity isn’t attempting to steal the spotlight, but is just trying to help Sweetie by generously devoting her talents to her sister, and doing so to the best of her ability because she cares that much. However, her own ego makes it seem like she’s just seeking attention when she’s just being a generous person. The present scene shows that Rarity, much like Sweetie in her play, wants to do everything perfectly, meaning that even if it’s just a few quick costumes for her sister’s play, she’ll give it her best. The future scene teaches Sweetie about why her sister seeks perfection in all she does. The reason is that she fears being ridiculed and insulted for doing something wrong. This is extremely understandable, seeing as having her image ruined would ruin her business which would in turn ruin her life. This final future scene pushes Sweetie to do just as Luna wished she could’ve done and fix her mistake before it was too late. However, another question goes along with this future scene.

Did Luna actually see into and display the future, or was what she showed Sweetie just a fabrication Luna created to teacher Sweetie her lesson? While I’d really like to say the latter for less controversy sake, the episode has one moment that sternly point to the former. After stealing the box from Rarity, Sweetie eventually ends up in a room with Luna waiting inside of it, cherry/red/cinnamon thread and all. If Luna couldn’t predict the future, and she didn’t tell Sweetie she’s be waiting in that room, then how did she know Sweetie would run into that specific room? While I don’t think everything she showed Sweetie in the future was absolute truth, the room incident leads me to believe that the basis for the future dream was based off of the future in which Sweetie didn’t right her wrong. But this leads to yet another inconsistency. If Sweetie, in the real timeline, fixed the headdress in time, and if Luna showed the future to Sweetie, wouldn’t it show Rarity and Sweetie living happily every after since Sweetie replaced the thread in time? This leaves only two options I can think of, one of which is way to farfetched to actually ever be canon, and the other leads to me having to criticize this fantabulous episode for using a plot device potion. The first possibility is that Luna can pull things from parallel universes, assuming the ponies in these dream as well. She could’ve pulled the future from on of those dreams and displayed it inside of Sweetie’s if that was the case. The other, and sadder possibility, is that Luna intended to breach Sapphire Shores’s security earlier that day and simply wait or walk around inside until she bumped into Sweetie so she could supply her with thread to fix the headdress. The mystical magical mysterious magnificent Moonbutt will forever confuzzle me.

The development between Luna and the CMC is also one that I find particularly interesting. At the moment, I view her as I few Celestia in relationship to the Mane 6 in the first three seasons. She’ll be there if they need her, but otherwise, she’ll leave them to their own devices to sort out their conflicts since she seems to lean more towards having them fix things on their own. Although this more than likely wouldn’t happen until a series finale that hopefully won’t happen for a fair amount of years, an interesting concept to see would be a revival of conflict between Luna and Celestia, but without the Nightmare Moon factor, in which the Mane 6 obviously take Celestia’s side, but where the CMC see Luna’s perspective on things and take her side, starting up possible conflicts between their sister figures. It probably won’t happen since that could get extremely heavy, but it’s something that’s really great to think about.

Like always, I’m just going to include some random stuff want to point out from the episode in this last paragraph. It’s just going to be a thing now. I hope Rarity put all the glitter she picked up from Sweetie Belle’s mess in the trash, because she picked some of that glitter right off of Sweetie’s tongue. Like in the Season Four premiere, stairs are Sweetie’s worst enemy. There also seems to be an endless stream of trains between Canterlot and Ponyville. Speaking of trains, the callback to the place where the Applejack chase in The Last Roundup takes place was cool to see again. Rarity just seemed to lack common sense in this episode, but luckily it only involved things that don’t really matter. When Sweetie removes the thread from the headdress, she appears to just drop it on the ground right beside the box. How did Rarity not notice it lying there when she lifted up the box. In addition to this, she apparently just spill a ton of the dress onto the floor where the box is without bothering to pick it up. If she had bothered to she probably would’ve found the missing thread as well. Even if she was using magic you think she’s notice something like that. The song jokes were horrid, but Sweetie liking show tunes is absolutely fantastic. So is Scootaloo’s disgusted face right after it. So that’s it for this week, until next time!

Main Ideas: Maud Pie

Maud Pie is one of those episodes that contains multiple strong points that greatly outweigh the negatives. However, even though it’s a fantastic episode, it doesn’t have much re-watch value due to the slower pacing of the episode making each scene memorable. The strongest aspect of the episode, and what most of this analysis will be about, is Maud herself, and her relationship with Pinkie. While I’m not one of the people who’s become obsessed with her, I can’t argue that she isn’t a fantastic addition to the show. But before we begin discussing her, there’s one thing about this episode that really bothers me, and that’s the moral.

The way this episode handled the moral is just…confusing. Multiple times they introduce a moral, such as sometimes people just can’t be friends but can still respect each other, only to ditch it and move on to a different lesson. Then, as cheap knock-off brand frosting on the cake you bought in a cardboard from the freezer aisle, the moral the episode tries to implement is exactly what Twilight says the Mane 5 shouldn’t do just a few minutes earlier. Throw that in with the stream of possible morals being constantly added and dropped and that whole aspect of the episode becomes one jumbled mess. In some of the adventure heavy episodes, this isn’t much of a problem, but since this is a slice of life episode, the moral should’ve been handled more carefully. I suppose it tries to leave many possible morals behind to allow the viewer to decide for themselves which method is better, but because one moral is chosen by the Mane 5 at the end, it negates the idea. Luckily, Maud and a good amount of technical aspects save this episode from the disastrous presentation of the moral.

Since there’s so much to say about Maud, lets just start at some thing in the beginning of the episode that concern her. First off, I think it’s interesting to note that Pinkie doesn’t lie, or even exaggerate, about what Maud has in common with the rest of the main cast. Pinkie tells Rarity that Maud expresses herself through fashion, which she does since the single, dull dishrag shows off Maud’s inability to express her emotions, making her seem dull. She even acknowledges that she acts this way during the Rock Farm scene. Pinkie tells Fluttershy Maud loves forest things, which she does since rocks are things found in the forest. Like Pinkie tells Twilight, Maud loves to read, but only her own rock poems. She’s bluntly honest with AJ about the cider, and I personally like how instead of saying something along the lines of, “It’s good,” she describes what it tastes like since no matter whether someone thinks the cider is good or bad, no one can deny it tastes like apples. Finally, Maud beats Dash in the rock throwing contest proving she’s good at games.

Another thing I like about the opening scene is the multiple flavors of rock candy. The candy itself represent the Mane 6, not including Pinkie since she’s Maud’s close sister, and, the flavors represent their personalities. Maud doesn’t like the candy, but she still keeps and respects the necklaces because they came from Pinkie, whom she loves dearly. The same can be said for the Mane 5. While Maud doesn’t necessarily gel with them, not finding their “flavors” attractive, she respects them and attempts to act friendly to them because they’re Pinkie’s friends, and not doing so would hurt Pinkie.

Another interesting thing about Maud and Pinkie is their immensely different ways of self expression, even though they came from the same Rock Farm. The reason for these drastically different personalities is the result of two different reactions to a secluded life that involved doing the same exact thing day in and day out. Maud chose to become absorbed in what she more than likely felt she had no choice but to do. She became deeply passionate about rocks because they were the only thing she knew about, so she decided she would become an expert on them. She chose to take what was in front of her, and pursue it with passion, which lead to her becoming absorbed in it. This, along with the assumption you don’t get out much while living on a rock farm, explains her lack of exuberant expression. Pinkie on the other hand, after seeing the beauty of the rainboom, chose to search desperately for something other than what she was being forced to do. She attempted to look beyond what was in front of her, and pursue it wildly. This motive to search outward can explain her outgoing personality and attitude. Then, as seen in the Cutie Mark Chronicles, she discovered her love and talent for partying. However, this different reactions simply resulted in two different pursuits and ways of expression. Below that, both the Pies have something in common: passion. Pinkie devotes her live to throwing parties for every occasion, and as seen in Pinkie’s Pride, she’s very passionate about making sure her parties are the very best. Party hosting requires an exuberant personality, which she’s developed alongside her passion. Maud on the other hand has a passion for everything involving rocks. Due to her studies of rocks more than likely being done in solitude, the way she expresses herself also resembles how a rock would, which is by showing nothing. Maud, in general, is a pony who’s passionate about rocks, and has feeling just like everypony else, but she just lacks the ability to express them. In addition, both Pies hold their loved ones very close to their hearts, the only difference being Pinkie is much faster at making friends than her sister. 

Another fascinating aspect of the Pie’s is their understanding of each other. Pinkie, since she’s known Maud since birth, knows she doesn’t express herself like everypony else, so she knows when Maud is excited or troubles about something when no one else does. Maud also understand Pinkie and cares about her immensely. Like the Mane 5, she knows Pinkie desperately wants them to become friends, and she tries her best to make it happen. However after saving Pinkie from the rock slide, she realizes that Pinkie wants it so badly that she might put herself in danger to see it happen. To prevent Pinkie from hurting herself, Maud decides to go back to the Rock Farm, deeming it better for Pinkie to be temporarily upset about her and the Mane 5 not clicking than for Pinkie to give herself a permanent injury. It’s nice to see that the bond between the two isn’t just something that Pinkie blabbed about in the beginning, but it actually has an influence on the progress of the episode.

All in all this was a pretty cool episode. Seeing a new character with a solid amount of depth is always a welcome sight, and it becomes even more welcome when said character can make a mushroom cloud by throwing a rock, as well as run the destroy a rock faster than an alicorn princess can cast a spell to destroy it. I wish we could’ve seen more of the Rock Farm, but maybe another time. Revisiting Pinkie’s parents would certainly make an interesting episode. Also, besides Maud, the episode really doesn’t have much in it. The Mane 6 react in pretty much the way we’d expect them to with no real developments other than settling on a way to make candy necklaces for Maud without feeling guilty. So, that’s all I have on this week’s episode. See you next time!

Mane Ideas: Somepony to Watch Over Me

Somepony to Watch Over Me was obviously an episode heavily focused on comedy. However, when looking at it side by side with the other two sister episodes, I kept asking myself why this was. In the other two, jokes existed, but the main focus of the episode was on the conflict between Sweetie and Rarity, and  Scootaloo trying to hide her fears from Dash. The jokes in these simply flowed into the narrative and didn’t distract the viewer from the main focus of the episode. That changes for StWOM. If you didn’t obviously pick-up on Applejack’s absurdity the second she came back to check on Bloom, the episode made sure to drill it into your skull by the time Bloom sneaks out. But why choose this episode to put comedy side by side with the plot, and why so much of it that you can’t look past it because all that’s there is jokes and gags? You could say because Scott Sonneborn probably feels comfortable writing comedy seeing as he’s written for Beavis and Butt-head, but where’s the fun in that?

Now seeing as there have been two summer sun celebrations in the series, it’s safe to assume a year has passed since the beginning of season one and the beginning of season four. Already in season one, ponies around the CMC’s age had been earning their cutie marks, a moment that has been shown to mark their entrance into a kind of limbo stage between being adults and kids. This leads to the conclusion that while they lack their marks, since they’re the same age, they have entered this limbo stage maturity wise. Another factor that supports their maturity from past episodes is Twilight Time, where it’s shown the CMC have learned they need to settle down and focus on one activity instead of randomly choosing six to try in a day. They’re also shown to be much more mature in the events of this episode. Bloom easily finishes all of her chores, and Sweetie and Scoots could have easily tried to dodge AJ’s questions about where Bloom was. Seeing the true concern’s she’s having, they immediately tell her what she wants to know, no questions asked (At this point the episode takes a much more serious tone, but that’s for later). 

The main point of comedy in this episode is Applejack. AJ is shown as completely unreasonable and absolutely loony. The things she does to keep Bloom safe make zero sense, and the level of her paranoia and actions regarding Bloom’s safely have pretty close ties to Pinkie’s breakdown in Party of One. Both involve adverse situations that the two characters had never faced before, and both situations effected things Pinkie and AJ loves, her friends and her family. Their reactions were to try to fix the problems in the most efficient and effective way possible. For Pinkie that was finding friends that would never leave her, and for AJ that was staying with Bloom as much as possible to make sure she could never hurt herself or “be scared of” being alone again. Both Pinkie and Applejack act absolutely ridiculous, and for the first half of this episode, that’t exactly the point. This episode is supposed to implant the thought of “this is ridiculous” into you head to further boost the idea that Bloom has become more mature and responsible, and too old to be constantly guided by her sister. You’re supposed to be brought to the thought of ridiculousness by the constant over the top jokes, only to redirect that thought to the situations itself: that a mature enough and capable enough pony is being babied. This connection between the ridiculousness of the plot being reinforced and supported by the ridiculous jokes provides a great reason for making this episode so comedy heavy. 

Now another question many people, including myself, have been pondering about is why AJ behaves the way she does in this episode. Well, the obvious why is because she needs to be the one to drive the plot by being absolutely ridiculous and oblivious. My stance on this implements both Gibbon and Tommy_Oliver’s ideas about why she acts the way she does: those being that she is Bloom’s mother figure and there was possibly an accident she felt guilty about in the past, and that AJ loses her good judgement whenever family is involved. I also feel AJ holds the state of her farm on the same grounds as her family, in that she loses her sense of judgement when it’s at stake, such as in Bats! First, lets look at the scene in which AJ comes back to check on Bloom, causing Bloom to fall and destroy whatever room of the house they were in. AJ becomes completely oblivious to the fact that she caused Bloom to fall, and instead focuses on only one thing. That thing is Apple Bloom. She ignores all context around her and focuses on the one thing that matter at the moment, the well being of her sister.  Think of it like Applebuck Season but with Apple Bloom substituted in for her orchard. In AS, AJ completely ignores herself by losing sleep and trying to do something she just can’t do. She is completely focused on the task, or problem, at hand, which is bucking all the apples in her farm. In this situation, AJ sees Bloom’s well being as the problem at hand, and she completely shuts out everything else. The fact she caused Bloom’s fall, the completed list, the pie delivery, and Granny and Mac’s decision that Bloom could stay home alone all either go out the window or are just ignored by AJ, because none of that matters to her since Bloom needs her. Much like how her trees needed her to harvest their apples in season one. When AJ’s family or farm are at stake, she doesn’t exactly lose it, she just focuses on the one thing that she thinks needs her, and absolutely nothing else. This, combined with the fact that due to the comedic focus of this episode you have to accept the fact everything will be exaggerated, makes me draw the conclusion that AJ is not out of character in this episode, since there’s solid reasoning behind her actions.

This episode handled the CMC flawlessly. Apple Bloom was portrayed as the temporary leader for the episode from the get go, and it didn’t seem like it was an out of place leadership, since Apple Bloom was the one encountering problems in the episode. My philosophy for them is that they should interact between each other as equals, unless one of them is having problems. In that case, whoever has the problems should take the wheel. Another great thing is that when Bloom leaves, the other two interact on an equal level, although besides the scene where they explain to AJ where Bloom went, the only interaction they had had been planned out before Bloom left. What I thought was best about their portrayal in this episode is the development of Bloom’s plan to leave. Seeing as Bloom was the only one of them to hear about the dangers of AJ’s pie path, the other two CMC’s have no idea that Bloom is putting herself in danger by delivering the pies. Bloom herself knows, which is why she wants to do it, but she either doesn’t think to tell them of the dangers, assumes they know it’s dangerous, or is possibly afraid of Sweetie going to get AJ, since she wanted to alert AJ when the CMC were victims of Babs Seed’s bullying. That aside, Sweetie and Scoots have no idea the danger Bloom is diving into, and they don’t learn of it until AJ discovers Sweetie was impersonating Bloom. When they do realize the danger she’s in, the two simply comply with AJ and don’t bother her with questions about why she’s asking whether Bloom has such silly things with her. This once against shows the level of maturity of the CMC, a level at which they still have childlike innocence, shown in their willingness to help a friend and the joy of being able to stay home alone, but they’ve also developed the maturity to understand when a situation is serious, and stay out of it. 

For me, the first part of this episode, or the funny part, was fantastic. It seemed to work well, it was entertaining, and it made the characters and the plot line seem ridiculous like it needed to be, but believable and relatable. Sadly, when the episode decided to take a more serious tone, things started to deteriorate somewhat. Not enough to break the episode (In fact I was happy to see the dangerous swamp at first) but enough to put a weird soury sweet taste in your mouth after watching it. The first of the two problems was the Chimera. When I first saw it, I was ecstatic. World building is one of my favorite things to see in MLP, and it’s one reason I liked this episode thanks to the Creole ponies. Now, my problem with the Chimera isn’t the fact that it speaks, but rather the fact that they tried to make her relate to the plot in a way that wasn’t just a monster way. Rather than simply be an obstacle Bloom must rely on her sister to be saved from, she was used to once again bring up the fact that AJ was being overprotective in a ridiculous fashion, when a few seconds ago we had seemingly moved on past that. It makes the scene confusing because it engages you in an atmosphere of intensity, only to throw you out of it with a poke at the main conflict of the episode, then tries to return to fighting as if that line of dialogue never happened. Basically, it just felt out of place and silly at a time when there was no need for silliness. In fact, the location of the Chimera felt weird for me as well. I would have loved the Chimera is her tiger and goat heads were intimidating, while the snake one was a bit of a dunce.

The second problem with the latter half of the episode was the delivery of the moral, which has already been touched upon plenty of times. Basically, AJ learns her lesson about being too overprotective and that Bloom isn’t a baby anymore, but after saying Bloom was stupid for putting herself in danger like that, AJ goes and says that if Bloom hadn’t done that, the former would have never learned her lesson. If you’re paying attention, you get what she means, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that it’s sloppy. I was just brainstorming ideas of how they could have written the latter part of the episode to get a better effect, and I settled on one I like.

First off, replace the Chimera with the Cragadile or whatever the rock croc from the season opener is called. With the Creole ponies nearby, the fire swamp, and the fact that rocks are pretty resistant to fire (Pokemon!), it makes more sense, and makes a pretty cool connection to the real world. Now, instead of AJ saving Bloom from the Croc, one, or a few I suppose, of the Creole ponies save her instead, including a pony that appears to be Bloom’s age. They could be alerted by her screaming, the attack could occur closer to their village and the cart could be pushed into it without a driver, or you could have it where they always go and meet the deliverer halfway because of how dangerous the swamp is. All three are viable enough for me, so it’s really whatever floats your boat. One of the ponies, not the one of Bloom’s age, talks to Bloom since he’s never seen her before, but assumes she’s the sister of AJ, who I reckon has delivered pies to their village before. This pony could be a mediator for the two morals of the story. He could tell Bloom that AJ always talks about her when she comes to deliver pies, that AJ really cares and worries about her, and that Bloom shouldn’t have worried her sister by running off like this. This way Bloom clearly learns that she shouldn’t make dangerous decisions like she does in this episode. Then AJ arrives to see the Creole ponies enjoying their pies, and the moral deliverer talking to Bloom at one of the tables. This pony could then tell AJ about how Bloom did a wonderful job delivering the pies, which could lead to dialogue between the three, or just Bloom and AJ, similar to that after the Chimera is defeated. This way AJ learns that Bloom is responsible enough to take care of herself at home, and she should be less protective of Bloom. Even if you leave the muddling line in from the episode, it doesn’t change much as Bloom would have clearly received her lesson prior to that statement being said, and from another source. Finally, to solidify the moral pony’s legitimacy, the episode would end with the moral delivery pony standing with the pony of Bloom’s age from the Cragadile scene, whose Cutie Mark would be something related to gator wrangling, watching the Apples leave. The moral pony would say to his son something along the lines of, “Reminds me of when you got your Mark, Son,” to end the episode, and imply that pony’s son got his mark by sneaking out to try to prove himself by catching a Cragadile in order to relate the pony’s own experiences to those of the Apples. Hooray for trying to edit episodes to my liking!

Anyways, to close this analysis, here’s some more general things I liked or disliked about the episode. The double helmet gag was brilliantly done, as was Scoots calling Bloom out about always singing. So was Scoots calling out Bloom on her sass. So was Scoots getting busted in the bow closet. Scootaloo is best pony. The hat and bow closet was pretty good, although now it makes AJ’s attachment to her hat seem kinda weird since she apparently has a good hundred of them lying around the house. Creole Mamma’s sad face made me feel sad for her but in a good way…it’s weird but brilliant. I was disappointed that Winona was completely left out of this episode, since I think it would have been interesting to see how she either played into Bloom’s responsibilities at the farm or just being there to give AJ another reason to freak about Bloom being home alone. Seeing her be AJ’s right hand dog in stalking Bloom would’ve been pretty great as well. All in all this episode, while it isn’t one of the top episodes, did a good job at keeping you entertained while helping to move the CMC along their path to maturity in a very realistic way. Hope you all enjoyed reading this review!