Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 8: A Dog and Pony Show + Green Isn’t Your Color + Over a Barrel


< Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 >

Season 1, Episodes 19-21

Season 1 Episode 19: A Dog and Pony Show

In five words: Rarity subverts “damsel in distress”.

Premise: While mining for gems, Rarity gets abducted by the Diamond Dogs. Her friends have no idea how much she’s not a stereotypical damsel in distress.

Detailed run-through:

This episode begins with famous pop singer pony Sapphire Shores visiting Rarity’s boutique and recognizing her name, much to her shock and then nervous delight. Sapphire Shores sees a gem-filled dress Rarity made and asks her to make five more of them, but to do this, Rarity needs to find more gems. It’s clear from what we saw in Suited for Success that Rarity won’t refuse such a request. Rather, she’ll follow it to the letter, which sets the stage for this episode’s plot.

Rarity repeatedly reminds us how ladylike she is in this scene, which sets up this episode’s moral.

I love how Spike uses his tail as a shovel and then a drill. Creative cartoon physics right there.

And so, Rarity takes Spike along on one of their many journeys where they hunt for gems. This scene demonstrates Rarity’s skill in persuasion and sweet-talk, because she’s the only one who can get Spike to not greedily devour every gem he comes across. Though this may have something to do with the fact that Spike has a gigantic crush on Rarity, which he outright states in the next episode to nobody’s surprise. Still, though, this is some good establishing of Rarity’s strengths.

And then Rarity encounters the Diamond Dogs, who promptly kidnap her. The other characters, most of all Spike, have a set of preconceived media tropes that lead them to predict what horror Rarity must be suffering. You know, the whole stereotypical story where a sweet and innocent woman is locked away by big greedy men and it falls into a brave heroic male protagonist to save her. I’ve previously discussed how MLP is great at subverting predictable tropes like that; I’ll soon go over how this episode subverts the “damsel in distress” trope.

This is Twilight Sparkle’s fantasy, not Spike’s.

The rest of the Mane 6 join Spike in trying to rescue Rarity. After they fail to get underground, Twilight Sparkle imagines what it must be like for Rarity: she’s horrified at getting a trace of mud on her hooves and gets herself dirtier in the process of freaking out, all the while locked in a jail cell. This fantasy portrays Rarity as a typical damsel in distress with the show’s usual sense of humor. I can’t help but notice Twilight is the one imagining Rarity this way. Perhaps that’s because she’s still the newbie among her group of friends, so she doesn’t have a strong concept of what sort of pony Rarity is.

The ponies struggle to get underground with the dogs always getting in their way. Applejack even plays whack-a-mole with one of the dogs, which is more of that cartoony humor the show likes to do. This scene invites the viewer to imagine how horribly Rarity must be faring with those dogs.

I like how MLP lets characters wield swords and spears as much as they want, so long as nobody is stabbed with them.

The fantasy scenes escalate in hilarity when Spike envisions himself as a big brave manly warrior, even outright using the phrase “damsel in distress”. In his fantasy, he blasts his way through the dogs and intimidates them into pointing the way to Rarity, who is dressed like a stereotypical Disney princess, or not even that, a stereotypical princess from a 1600’s fairy tale. Then the two get ready to kiss until the fantasy fades to Spike accidentally about to kiss Applejack. This show doesn’t hold back one bit with lampooning old fairy tales and I love it.

Spike is lucky he wasn’t about to kiss Twilight Sparkle. That would be incredibly uncomfortable.

Aside from being humorous, Spike’s fantasy also demonstrates that he has stereotypical gender roles internalized. Brave masculine warrior, sweet innocent princess who doesn’t do anything except kiss the warrior, you know the drill. We’re soon about to see that the Diamond Dogs also have those roles internalized.

Spike’s fishing pole reaches down, so the other ponies join him in entering the caves. They’re initially lost, but they deduce that Rarity was probably sent through the hallway with the most gems, so Twilight Sparkle replicates Rarity’s gem-finding spell and they proceed.

Meanwhile from Rarity’s perspective…

The Diamond Dogs ask Rarity to find gems, which she does (look above). Then we get the following exchange:

Rarity: There. A lovely pocket of jewels are right there. Now if you would be so kind as to show me the exit?
Gray dog: Good! (laughs) Now, dig them up, pony.
Rarity: What? But you said you wanted me to find the gems.
Brown dog! Yes! Find, and then dig.
Rarity: (deadpan) Dig?
Blue dog: Yes, dig.

Rarity is quick to realize those dogs aren’t very intelligent and proceeds to torment them with exact words. When does the damsel in distress in an old fairy tale ever even THINK of confronting the villains instead of screaming in fear? Never, that’s when. Rarity proceeds to dig obnoxiously slowly, playing herself off as weaker than she is, because again the dogs aren’t very intelligent. They get other dogs to dig, and Rarity proudly smiles, having avoided getting her hooves dirty.

When she’s instructed to pull the cart instead, Rarity starts annoying the dogs by complaining about every little thing in the cave, then after being accused of whining, devolves into deliberately stereotypical petulant girly whining. The dogs ask to do anything to make the whining stop, so this happens:

Just like how Spike in his fantasy intimidated the dogs into submission, Rarity has irritated the dogs into submission. She’s having way too much fun getting the dogs to decorate their cave all fancy and giving them a taste of their own medicine. But then the leader of the dogs (the gray one, that is) realizes they shouldn’t be following Rarity’s orders.

The dogs go back to making Rarity pull the carts. When one of the dogs slaps Rarity and calls her a mule, she gets angered and then bursts into performative tears, intentionally acting like a stereotypical damsel in distress.

Rarity: Did you just call me a… MULE?!
Gray dog: (stutters)
Rarity: Mules are ugly. Are you saying that I, too, am ugly? (starts crying)
Brown dog: What are these noises?
Rarity: He called me ugly!
Gray dog: No. Mule! I said mule!
Rarity: An old, ugly mule! And it’s true! Just look at me. I used to be beautiful, but, but… (cries some more)
Blue dog: No, no. You’re still beautiful, po—uh, Miss Rarity.
Rarity: You’re just saying that!

Just like how Rarity isn’t your usual damsel in distress, the Diamond Dogs aren’t your usual cunning, vicious villains. They’re just a bunch of gullible fools, which Rarity takes full advantage of.

The other ponies follow the trail of gems and encounter some Diamond Dogs, who briefly ride them until they get out of control. Spike rips a stalactite and uses it as a spear so he can enact his heroic fantasy. The way he wants to ride Twilight Sparkle like a human rides a horse suggests he’s unconsciously aware of human fairy tales, and this was before Equestria Girls was even a thing!

In a subversion of expectations, the Diamond Dogs plead for the ponies and Spike to save them from Rarity, because she’s so obnoxiously demanding and picky. This is an awesome inversion of the typical damsel in distress story that kids surely know—the “damsel” puts the villains in distress and they ask for the “brave manly hero” to take her and stop their misery.

Rarity reveals the big stash of gems she made those dogs dig up, and she and her friends make it out of the cave while carrying those gems—now she has plenty for Sapphire Shores’ dresses. Twilight Sparkle narrates this episode’s moral, which I’ll quote directly:

Twilight Sparkle: Just because somepony is ladylike doesn’t make her weak. In fact, by using her wits, a seemingly defenseless pony can be the one who outsmarts and outshines them all.

This is the kind of moral that I think warrants being spelled out and made extra clear. Sexism is a real problem that many people like to think they’ve overcome when they really haven’t, and this episode does a good job getting viewers to rethink such views.

Overall thoughts:

A very solid episode. Good sense of humor with some cartoon physics and fake pleading on Rarity’s part, with a valuable moral to go with it. I feel that this episode’s moral is especially important for male viewers, which this show very much has. It’s typical for female heroes in media to have strong boyish traits, and Rarity isn’t like that at all. She gets out of a sticky situation without compromising her thoroughly feminine personality one bit. The Mane 6 cover the full gamut from feminine to boyish, with Rarity on one end and Rainbow Dash on the other, giving them quite a wide appeal.

Grade: B

Rarity episode. Need I say more?

Miscellaneous notes:

  • Rarity at one point calls the Diamond Dogs “ruffians”, which makes sense because, you know, dogs say “ruff” and all. I’m on the fence about whether I think this pun was intentional, but honestly, who cares whether it was intentional?
  • It’s worth pointing out that Rarity isn’t immune to gender role internalization either, on the woman’s side of things. Think about all her fantasies about Prince Blueblood! In this episode, however, she beautifully subverts gender stereotypes.
  • I mentioned Equestria Girls in this post, so now I feel obligated to talk about Equestria Girls. I’ve seen the first three of those movies as of this writing. The first is a tornado of high school clichés, Rainbow Rocks embraces being about high school music girls but is also full of contrivances, and Friendship Games has human Cadance use “alumni” as a singular noun which annoys me to no end. Oh yeah, Friendship Games also feels like a rehash of the beginning of the show with Twilight Sparkle learning the basics of friendship.
  • “Gamut” is a good word. I should use it more often.

Season 1 Episode 20: Green Isn’t Your Color

In five words: Sealed lips don’t solve conflicts.

Premise: Fluttershy becomes a famous fashion model and doesn’t want Rarity to know she hates the attention; Rarity doesn’t want Fluttershy to know how jealous she is. Twilight Sparkle juggles these secrets until tensions boil over.

Detailed run-through:

This episode begins with Rarity and Fluttershy having a weekly get-together at the spa. Rarity talks about how she just met the legendary fashion photographer Photo Finish and needs someone to model for her; she considers Fluttershy to be the perfect choice for some reason. Fluttershy nods along with polite but uninterested phrases like “that’s wonderful”, which hints at a takeaway regarding dragging a friend into things they (singular “they” just to be clear) have no interest in.

In this opening scene, I’m most interested in the things that are going on while Rarity and Fluttershy talk. The spa ponies are treating Rarity to an exuberant full-blast spa session just the way she likes it, which demonstrates she’s one of the spa’s absolute most regular customers using the principle of “show, don’t tell”. Fluttershy gets a much lighter spa treatment, which reminds us that she’s the most humble of the main cast.

Rarity suggesting that Fluttershy serve as a model leads to this exchange:

Fluttershy: There has to be somepony more qualif—
Rarity: Please?
Fluttershy: Somepony more into fashion.
Rarity: Please?
Fluttershy: Somepony more comfortable in the spotlight.
Rarity: Please, please, PLEASE!
Fluttershy: Oh, if it’s that important to you, of course I’ll do it.
Rarity: (gasps) Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! You are the best friend a pony could ever have!

Fluttershy hints that Rarity would be a far better model than she would, but those hints fly right over her head. Why does Rarity think Fluttershy would make for such a good model? Do they regularly have these sorts of one-sided conversations and have misconceptions that they care about each other’s interests more than they really do? Maybe their spa get-togethers have sometimes featured conversations where Fluttershy goes on and on about a new set of animals she befriended and Rarity politely nods along pretending to be interested. What I’m saying is that this scene is a strong hint at what sort of weird dynamic Rarity and Fluttershy have.

… OK, what I’m really saying is that I do not understand what could possibly give Rarity the idea that Fluttershy would make a good fashion model, so I whipped up an explanation that probably contradicts everything about their characters. It’s not unrealistic though, having a “conversation” with a friend where your friend talks endlessly about an interest of theirs while you struggle to pretend you’re even remotely interested.

And with that, Fluttershy’s tenure as a fashion model begins. Rarity ignores the uncomfortable and annoyed faces Fluttershy makes, which again suggests that they have a weird relationship.

Annoyed Twilight Sparkle is so funny.

Spike lets Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie on something that he thinks is a big secret: he has a crush on Rarity. This scene spells the crush out to viewers who are thick-headed in romantic matters while also demonstrating that Spike is the kind of guy who massively overestimates his subtlety. Spike and Rarity have a complex dynamic that I’ll probably say more about as I go through more episodes featuring their relationship.

Where did this shirt come from? Is it only visible to viewers, as a symbol of how blatantly Spike feels about Rarity?

Though Twilight Sparkle is unamused at this supposed confession, Pinkie Pie insists that she keep it a secret, or else it will ruin their friendship forever. Pinkie’s insistence on keeping secrets is bizarre (as is everything she does, in all fairness) and may serve to give this episode an alternative moral about not always following your friends’ advice.

You know when a shy anime girl fumbles around and makes squeaky noises in a maid outfit?
This is the MLP equivalent of that idea.

Photo Finish (who speaks with an intense German-ish accent) joins the scene and starts taking pictures of Fluttershy in various poses, deliberately picking out all the poses where she looks most shy and uneasy. It’s clear from this scene that the marketing idea for Fluttershy as a model is to bring out her shyness in all the poses she makes, because it will make all the citizens of Ponyville find her characteristic timidity attractive. Poor Photo Finish is oblivious to how uncomfortable Fluttershy is, perhaps thinking her being all awkward and queasy is just a fashionable act. Rarity stands behind Photo Finish making some model poses of her own, and here’s where the conflict between her and Fluttershy begins.

Photo Finish: It seems that I, Photo Finish, have found the next fashion star here in Ponyville.
Rarity: (delighted) Really?
Photo Finish: Yes, really. And I, Photo Finish, am going to help her to shine all over Equestria.
Rarity: (perks up and smiles)
Photo Finish: Tomorrow, photo shoot in the park.
Photo Finish: I go.
Rarity: Did you hear that? I am going to shine all over Equestria.
Fluttershy: Oh, Rarity, I was so worried I’d ruined everything.
Rarity: Oh, never. I knew you’d be perfect.
Rarity: (bounces in glee, shown above)

Despite her expertise in fashion design, Rarity has lots of misconceptions about how the world of fashion works. She thinks that she will become famous for all her dress designs and Fluttershy is merely a figurehead to showcase her work. She has no idea that everyone will instead swoon over how attractive the fashion model is, since she’s the one making her face seen. Photo Finish clears up this misconception soon after.

Fluttershy’s popularity escalates as she starts serving as a model on numerous magazines and gets attention everywhere she goes. Even when wearing no clothes (the pony equivalent of wearing regular everyday clothes), Fluttershy gets tons of attention; perhaps the citizens of Ponyville think Fluttershy is even more attractive when she’s going about day-to-day business. That’s the unfortunate thing about Fluttershy being a model: every time she tries to run away, everyone just adores her even more. It’s like there’s no escape for her.

Poor Rarity is left out of the fun.
Fluttershy would love having people enjoy her creations without them paying attention to the creator.

Applejack briefly appears in this episode, no doubt feeling happy for her friend’s popularity. She’s quick to realize that she can make more money off her apples simply by attaching a picture of Fluttershy to them, allowing her to raise funds for Sweet Apple Acres. A true business pony (businesspony?), or business person for that matter, will know how much attention their product will get if a celebrity endorses it. It helps that Fluttershy wouldn’t even consider forcing Applejack to pay her to use her face.

Rainbow Dash similarly makes a brief appearance, flying a banner that uses Fluttershy’s visage to advertise an orange drink. It’s a safe bet that Rainbow Dash is especially proud of Fluttershy for becoming so successful, since the two knew each other since they were fillies. She probably thinks Fluttershy finally grew a spine and is very happy for her.

Fluttershy visits Carousel Boutique to hide from all the civilians eager to photograph her, and Rarity’s eye twitches as she says she’s happy for Fluttershy. Photo Finish finds Fluttershy and takes her back, then a few background ponies enter the boutique and brush Rarity off as some nobody. Rarity’s obscurity in Ponyville sets the stage for her overarching story where she gradually gains popularity and expands business through more of Equestria and deals with the troubles popularity brings.

At the spa, Rarity confides in Twilight Sparkle that she’s jealous of Fluttershy’s popularity. Requests like “don’t tell [person] I said this” are indicative of a friendship in need of repair, as we’ll see when this episode ends.

Right after Rarity leaves the spa, Fluttershy joins and expresses her frustration at Rarity with a hilariously underwhelming Fluttershy-style scream. Comparing this against the rare occasions where Fluttershy has expressed her feelings loudly, it’s clear that this is far from the most frustrated Fluttershy has been. Anyway, she tells Twilight Sparkle that she hates being a fashion model and asks her not to tell Rarity this, which shows that the worry of their friendship collapsing is shared between Fluttershy and Rarity; not that the two can realize as much just yet.

Whenever Twilight is about to spill the beans, Pinkie Pie pops in out of nowhere and gives a stern reminder about keeping secrets, which is exactly the sort of bizarrity (is that a real word?) one would expect from her. Equestria’s cosmic forces must have decided to make Pinkie Pie insistent upon keeping secrets, so that the episode can continue and provide its moral as intended.

Is that Apple Bloom in the crowd? Interesting that she of all ponies would fall into this Fluttershy worship mindset.

When Twilight Sparkle accidentally knocks Fluttershy’s hat and sunglasses off, the crowd immediately recognizes her and flocks towards her. The fact that they didn’t recognize her with the hat and sunglasses on clearly indicates that those ponies have become blinded by their idolization of fashion model Fluttershy. It’s totally not just an instance of the common trope where an obvious disguise fools the cast but not the audience.

This episode is around the time where male background ponies start becoming more prevalent.

Twilight Sparkle hatches a plan to control Fluttershy to do embarrassing things at her fashion show so that she won’t be a model anymore and Rarity won’t be jealous. She tells that plan only to Pinkie Pie. Those embarrassing things include falling on her face, picking her nose, and even barking like a dog. I guess we are to take from this scene that magic auras aren’t visible to other ponies, or something? The mechanics of magic become much more consistent after season 1.

Those plans unfortunately backfire when Rarity compliments Fluttershy’s performance in a last-ditch effort to stop her fashion career from flopping. Noticing the stylish outfit Rarity is wearing, the audience decides she’s a fashion expert and thus shifts their opinion to something that matches hers. There’s quite a message to take here about latching onto opinions of people you think are cool, which is obviously the only reason I ever liked MLP, rather than judging things for yourself. For real though, telling yourself you agree with popular opinions is a mentality I’ve fallen into plenty of times.

The butterfly symbol on the door indicates that Fluttershy has served as a fashion model long enough to get her own special room.

Twilight Sparkle repeatedly comes close to revealing Rarity’s secret until Rarity comes in and finally confesses to her jealousy. Then Fluttershy confesses that she hates being a fashion model, and the two realize the importance of being honest with each other—if you withhold your true feelings from someone, you have no idea whether they are also withholding feelings from you. Twilight then screams that Spike has a crush on Rarity (surprise surprise) and Fluttershy declines Photo Finish’s request for more fashion shots.

Then at the spa, Twilight Sparkle narrates her letter to Celestia about being honest with your friends, which is a good moral but another one that overshadows other potential morals. After we see more of Spike being blatantly attracted to Rarity, the episode ends.

Overall thoughts:

This is an interesting episode with a variety of takeaways from it, like the official one about being true to your friends, not dragging friends into things they have no interest in, not feeling obligated to agree with popular opinion, and not feeling obligated to follow a friend’s advice. There’s a lot of worldbuilding in this one, including the introduction of the spa, as well as Photo Finish who later gets to be in the theme song. I’m still unsure why Rarity thought Fluttershy would make a good fashion model, which is why I came up with all those elaborate explanations.

Grade: C

Yet another neutral grade from me. Remember not to be misled by my grades—a C still means I like the episode!

Miscellaneous notes:

  • At a few points in this episode, we glimpse at the Mane 6’s dresses for the Grand Galloping Gala, reminding us of this season’s story arc which culminates in the downright beautiful season finale, The Best Night Ever.
  • Even though it should be blindingly obvious that I genuinely love MLP:FiM, the mentality of latching onto popular opinions is exactly why I used to trash on the show back when I hadn’t seen it. I like to think I’m somewhat better at being true to my opinions now.

Season 1 Episode 21: Over a Barrel

In five words: Surprisingly forgettable wild west episode.

Premise: In the town of Appleoosa, the resident ponies have planted an apple tree orchard that Applejack intends to plant one of her trees in. But the buffalo claim the orchard’s land as their own, which leads to a conflict of interest.

Detailed run-through:

Over a Barrel is another one of those episodes where the beginning is by far the most memorable part. In this case, Applejack demonstrates her goofy side when she narrates a bedtime story to a tree named Bloomberg and acts as though the tree has its own thoughts and feelings. Does this demonstrate that Applejack has zany thoughts more often than she lets on, or is it just early installment weirdness at play? I’m going to go with the latter, since I’ve already established that Applejack’s characterization in season 1 is all over the place. In any case, the most memorable moment of this episode is a tiny bit later.

Rarity complains to Applejack about this, not because she thinks it’s weird to tell bedtime stories to a tree, but because she wishes she could have a bed as luxurious as the tree’s. This is in-character for Rarity—she takes high priority in fashion but it manages to never come off as obnoxious, rather genuinely knowledgeable and passionate.

This scene is permanently etched into every brony’s head.

Now THIS is the most memorable part of the episode. I’ll quote it directly in two parts because it’s so funny:

Rainbow Dash: Pinkie Pie, you asleep yet?
Pinkie Pie: No, are you asleep yet?
Rainbow Dash: If I was sleeping, how could I have asked you if you were asleep?
Pinkie Pie: Oh yeah! (laughs)
Rainbow Dash: When we get to Appleoosa*, you think we’ll have to carry that heavy tree all the way from the train to the orchard?
Pinkie Pie: What tree? You mean Bloomberg?
Rainbow Dash: No. Fluttershy.
Pinkie Pie: Fluttershy’s not a tree, silly!

Pinkie Pie is here asking the stupidest questions ever, which is something that I must shamefully admit I find relatable. It’s a fun bit of characterization to see Pinkie Pie ask questions that don’t need to be asked, because it shows what sort of pony she is. She just has no sense of whether a question needs to be asked.

Twilight Sparkle: What’s going on?
Pinkie Pie: Rainbow Dash thinks Fluttershy’s a tree!
Rainbow Dash: I do not think she’s a tree! I was just—
Twilight Sparkle: Did you say she was a tree?
Rainbow Dash: No. Well, yes, but, not exactly—
Twilight Sparkle: You know she’s not a tree, right?
Pinkie Pie: She’s not a tree, Dashie!
Fluttershy: I’d like to a be a tree.

“I’d like to be a tree” is one of the most memorable lines in the entire show. It’s no “20% cooler”, but it’s certainly up there. It’s something that only Fluttershy could say with a straight face. She has no idea how weird it is to proclaim that you would like to be a tree. I can totally see what’s on her mind though: she’s probably thinking about how wonderful it is that trees provide such extensive and versatile support to sweet, innocent little animals, and she can only dream of being as nurturing and caring as a tree. But without the context of Fluttershy’s character (or even with the context), this line is just hilariously bizarre. After this, Spike and Rarity both express frustration in trying to get some sleep, and the former chooses to cuddle up with Bloomberg.

Alright, that’s it for the memorable stuff in this episode. The rest is stuff that I weirdly find incredibly forgettable.

* There appears to be some disagreement on how that city’s name is spelled. I’ve chosen to spell it Appleoosa, as in the title of the episode Appleoosa’s Most Wanted.

The next morning, a herd of buffalo detaches the back car of the train, which contains Spike and Bloomberg. Rainbow Dash chases Little Strongheart, the small buffalo shown above, but ends up hitting a sign in old wild west cartoon style. I can’t help but notice that while the show portrays ponies as colorful and varied, most of the buffalo look near identical to one another, which is not a great way to convey cultural diversity and respecting cultures outside of your own. Compare this to the later-introduced cultures of species whose designs are just as diverse as ponies, like dragons, griffons, or the species we get to know better in seasons 8 and 9.

The confusion on how to spell Appleoosa is making me sympathize a bit more with those who misspell Sweetie Belle as Sweetie Bell.
But only a bit more.

Applejack’s cousin Braeburn gives the ponies, or at least four of the ponies (Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie are missing), a humorous tour of Appleoosa that lightly parodies wild west tropes, while Applejack tries to get her cousin’s attention about the tree problem. I find it interesting that the residents of Appleoosa—or Aaaaaaaa-pleoosa! as Braeburn calls it—are just your usual background ponies, except they’re wearing hats, which is typical season 1 background pony laziness.

Braeburn then reveals the town’s apple orchard, which the buffalo want taken down much to the town’s dismay. He can only see the situation from the ponies’ perspective, since the orchard is so vital to the town’s well-being. This suggests a moral of seeing a situation from both sides, which is related to this episode’s official moral about making compromises. I find that seeing both sides of a situation is a valuable skill to learn.

Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie encounter each other in the desert, the former trying to keep a low profile to pay those buffalo back. The buffalo seem like scary brutes, but Spike comes in and reveals that he knows them. The first line we hear from a buffalo is “If you say so. Catch you later, bro.” which isn’t quite the angry commanding one may have expected. Props to Spike for being open-minded regarding other species, which is probably helped by the fact that he wasn’t raised by his own species.

Chief Thunderhooves reveals that the buffalo have their own intended use for the land now occupied by the orchard, namely a traditional stampede. Their culture comes off as much more traditionalist than that of ponies, and I’m not sure if that helps or hurts the message of appreciating other cultures. While Thunderhooves is a typical traditionalist leader, Little Strongheart is the typical “young female member of a supposed enemy race who’s intrepid and willing to talk things out” which is also a rather stereotypical trope. It works for this episode, but it’s still a little weird because she’s so much smaller than any of the other buffalo.

Applejack is still convinced that the buffalo are bad news, much like how she was the most suspicious of Zecora’s supposed evil, so she and Rainbow Dash descend into an argument about whether the buffalo or ponies have the right to the orchard’s land. Applejack feels much more strongly about this issue than Braeburn does, and Braeburn is the one who lives in Appleoosa! Kind of weird, I won’t lie.

Pinkie Pie attempts to solve the situation with a musical number about sharing and caring. The performance only increases the tension between the ponies and buffalo, because I guess Pinkie Pie’s musical numbers just aren’t for everyone. Either that, or they don’t think the concepts of sharing should apply to the other species.

And so, a fight breaks out, with the buffalo stampeding and the ponies responding by throwing pies in their faces, which is a foolproof method of slapstick humor. All it takes for them to reach an agreement is Chief Thunderhooves tasting the ponies’ delicious pie, which leads him to finally see things from their side. I think it would have perhaps made more sense for one of Appleoosa’s ponies to experience a revelation that makes them see things from the buffalo’s side, since this show is generally told from the ponies’ perspective and it would thus better demonstrate the lesson of understanding other people’s opinions. But as I said, the show later becomes far better at portraying relations between different species.

And so, a compromise is reached, with the buffalo allowing the ponies some of the land in exchange for some of their delicious apples. The ponies make a new friend in the form of Little Strongheart, but disappointingly, this is the only episode where Strongheart appears beyond a small cameo. Twilight Sparkle narrates the episode’s moral about understanding and compromises, which this episode showed reasonably well. Pinkie Pie breaks the fourth wall and complains about Twilight Sparkle stealing a line from her song, and with that, the episode ends.

Oh yeah, Applejack plants Bloomberg and gives that tree a special spot in the orchard, resolving that whole weird arc. Almost forgot about that.

Overall thoughts:

The first few minutes of this episode are legendary, especially the “I’d like to be a tree” scene, but for reasons I can’t place, the rest of this episode is very forgettable. When making these blog posts, I make sure that I’ve watched or rewatched the episode not too long ago before making a blog post about it, and I had rewatched this episode only a few weeks before writing this post. And yet, I hardly remembered a thing about it by the time I wrote this post. Maybe it’s because the resolution occurs merely through a character tasting pie? Or because the background scenery and depiction are rather lackluster? Or because this one is overshadowed by other wild west episodes? I’m not quite sure.

Grade: D

This is another one of season 1’s attempts at conveying cultural diversity that doesn’t work as well as later seasons do. It isn’t bad per se, but it’s still very forgettable.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • It’s worth pointing out at this point that during the show’s first few seasons, many fans joked about Applejack being a background pony because she didn’t get many episodes focusing on her, and the ones that did either were forgettable or had something else steal the show like Derpy in The Last Roundup.
  • I’m going to preemptively say that I can see both sides of the controversy regarding Derpy’s scene in The Last Roundup. Just saying that now in case I forget to discuss that when I get to that episode.
  • If you refer to Derpy as Muffins, then you’re a total stuck-up weirdo who hates fun.
  • Wait, Derpy didn’t even appear in this episode, why am I talking about her? I mean, aside from the obvious and undeniable fact that Derpy is the best.

That’s all for this week! Next week will be my second last season 1 post; the most notable episode there is definitely The Cutie Mark Chronicles.

>> Part 9: A Bird in the Hoof + The Cutie Mark Chronicles + Owl’s Well That Ends Well

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