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!