Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 66: Applejack’s “Day” Off + Flutter Brutter

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Season 6, Episodes 10-11

Season 6 Episode 10: Applejack’s “Day” Off

In five words: Applejack suffers effects of inefficiency.

Premise: Rarity wants Applejack to spend time with her at the spa, but Applejack has a busy and, as we soon find out, incredibly inefficient work schedule that needs some rethinking.

Detailed run-through:

Before we begin, I’d like to say that this episode should have just been called Applejack’s Day Off. I get that the quotation marks show she’s not taking a whole day off, but they make the title clunky and annoying to type. Plus, what do you do when you put the title in quotation marks? Do you do “Applejack’s ‘Day’ Off” or “Applejack’s “Day” Off”? Both look awkward, honestly.

I love that cursive R on Rarity’s robe.

How did Rarity’s HORN get wrinkled???

This episode starts off with Rarity at the spa—it’s unusually steamy, take note of that later—waiting for Applejack to join her. And right after Applejack joins, the spa closes, and we see that Rarity was waiting here the whole time against the spa pony’s warning. Such are the lengths Rarity will take for her friends.

This is why putting quotation marks in an episode’s title is a bad idea.
Look at how awkward this title looks!

Walking with Twilight Sparkle and Spike to Sweet Apple Acres, Rarity gripes about how Applejack never makes enough time to hang out with her at the spa and seems to be overloaded with work. When they meet with Applejack at the farm, there’s a clear difference between her portrayal in the early seasons and how she’s portrayed now. Instead of stubbornly insisting she has everything under control, like she would have done in the early seasons, she explains that the rest of her family also has chores to do and accepts Twilight and Spike’s offer to help with one chore: feeding the pigs. I’ve said before that the show gradually transitioned from focusing on Applejack’s stubbornness to her honesty, and by season 6, I think that transition is complete. She can still be stubborn in episodes like this, but that’s no longer her biggest trait.

It turns out Applejack wrote a huge list of instructions for how to feed the pigs. This shows her biggest commonality with Twilight Sparkle: both are detail-oriented and like having things organized a specific way. I think it would have been both funny and believable for Twilight to be weirded out about the size of this list, because it’s common to find it weird when someone else does something you do that you think is normal. But if she did that, then the episode’s plot would have been wrapped up far too quick.

And yet, even with Twilight about to follow every ridiculous instruction to the letter, this episode still needs plenty of additional padding. Now, padding isn’t always a bad thing—it can be great to fill space with fun character moments and gags—but this episode drags on a lot without much happening. If this was a different show, this episode could have had a side plot involving other characters doing something totally different, but that’s not how MLP:FiM operates. Most episodes stick to a single plot all the way through.

Spike: Step 1: Open the gate.
(Twilight opens the gate)
Spike: Okay. Step 2: Close the gate.
Twilight Sparkle: Huh?
Spike: Mm, that’s what it says.
(Twilight closes the gate)
Spike: Step 3: Walk away.
Twilight Sparkle: Walk away? Really?
(Spike shrugs)

Maybe Applejack wrote down these instructions for Apple Bloom to follow, and she gave this list to Twilight because she was in a hurry to spend an hour at the spa. That’s the most logical reason I can think why these instructions would be so hyper-specific.

Note that Rainbow Dash is wearing her Tank slippers that we saw last season.

I love how Rainbow Dash is embarrassed about doing something ladylike even though plenty of stallions are at the spa.

Now for the part of this episode that I was looking forward to talking about by far the most!

Rarity: Rainbow Dash, what are you doing here?
Applejack: Yeah, I didn’t think spa treatments were your thing exactly.
Rainbow Dash: What? (takes off her clothes) Oh, they’re totally not. At least, not the frou-frou kind.
Applejack and Rarity: Huh.
Rainbow Dash: Yeah, I, uh… I think I tweaked something at Wonderbolts practice the other day. I just came in for a deep tissue sports massage.
Spa pony: Ah, Miss Dash. I am so sorry, but we are running just a tad behind, and we are not quite ready to start your pampered muzzle massage and indulgent hooficure.
Rainbow Dash: Oh, (laughs), uh, I, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t what I signed up for.
Spa pony: But they are your usual—
Rainbow Dash: It seems like you’re really busy today anyway. I’ll just come back tomorrow. See you two later! Have fun!
Rainbow Dash: (whispering) But put me down for the same thing.

Remember in season 2 when Rainbow Dash got touched in a spa and absolutely freaked out? Four seasons later, she’s had a change of heart and loves indulging herself in spa treatments. I find it funny that Rainbow Dash has two interests that are analogous to liking MLP: the Daring Do books and the spa. For her, part of the excitement of the spa is getting to do things she isn’t “supposed” to like. That was part of my excitement of watching MLP at first, but it quickly evolved to genuine enjoyment.

I think Rainbow Dash has attended the spa regularly for the past few seasons, but only now has she had to wait long enough to encounter her friends there. Normally, she probably quickly blasts out of the spa once she’s done so that no one will know her embarrassing secret. Even if her spa attendance is a newer thing, the point is clear: Rainbow Dash isn’t entirely boyish, and her inner girly side is adorable.

Why aren’t Bon Bon and Lyra in line together?
I’ll discuss that in the miscellaneous notes.

When Rainbow Dash leaves, Rarity and Applejack joke about Rainbow Dash’s embarrassment, then they’re met with a long line of annoyed ponies to enter the steam room. Applejack insists on waiting in line instead of trying something else at the spa. There is no reason for her to do this except to progress the episode’s plot. Because she only has an hour at the spa, you’d think spending spa time with Rarity would be more important than just what they do at the spa, but apparently not.

One nice thing this episode does is expand on the spa ponies as characters a little bit. Aloe says Rarity is her favorite customer and greets her with a pair of cheek kisses, which I think is a cute friendship. We had similarly seen Aloe at the start of this episode warning Rarity not to stay in the steam room too long, indicating an affectionate relationship. Applejack unfortunately still insists on the steam room… though given later events, this insistence may well be fortunate.

Spoiled Rich takes a moment to brag about her mansion, which has many luxurious things in it but no steam rooms.

Applejack goes to the front of the line and notices a low level of steam pressure, then she explores some employee rooms with Rarity and Aloe. It may seem odd that a random pony who doesn’t work at the spa and wasn’t hired to fix anything is going through all this, but it can be justified through Aloe’s trust of her favorite customer’s friend. I think Applejack’s disinterest in relaxation is because she hasn’t gotten out of her daytime work mindset. When she needs to get work done, she plows through it until it’s all finished, and then she gets to relax. That’s simply how her work mindset operates.

As with many Applejack episodes, we have a strange combination of her being smart and her being infuriating. The pieces fall into place when she notices a steam leak: the leak means the steam takes longer to build up, the longer wait means that ponies in line need more fresh towels to keep warm, and washing the towels uses up more water and extends the wait further. I don’t find the contrast between Applejack’s inefficient routine and her solution to the spa problem hard to believe. I know what it’s like to be better at solving others’ problems than dealing with my own, especially if they’re computer problems. A look from fresh eyes is often all it takes.

Duct tape is one of the most amazing things humans have invented.
Seriously, how is that stuff so versatile?

Right when Rarity thinks she’s ready to relax with her friend, Applejack gets to work in a montage scored with some charming country rock music while Rarity relaxes on her own. Then Applejack presents the fixed pipe, to the spa staff’s thrill but to Rarity’s annoyance.

Aloe: Wow, Appleyack, have you ever considered a career in the spa industry? I’m sure I can find something for you.
Applejack: (laughs) No, thanks. I’m just relieved I can finally relax in the steam. What do you say, Rarity?
Rarity: Honestly, how in Equestria did it never occur to you to check for leaks?
Aloe: There’s just so many other things to worry about. I suppose we get used to the way things are, and not realize there’s a problem.
Rarity: You obviously need an outside eye to evaluate the situation. It’s lucky for you, Applejack is too stubborn to relax.
Applejack: Uh… I’m sorry, Rarity. We’ll just have to do this another day. Twilight and Spike should be done feeding the pigs by now.
Rarity: Twilight is a very capable pony. I’m sure she can figure out what to do next.

One thing I like about Applejack and Rarity’s dynamic is that they regularly swap roles: sometimes Applejack is the rational one trying to get through to Rarity, and sometimes Rarity is the rational one trying to get through to Applejack. Their personalities balance each other well, and neither is consistently more competent than the other. The show gets a ton of mileage from their similarities and contrasts, and it probably wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t paired up at a sleepover early in season 1.

Applejack doubts Twilight’s farming skills, so she and Rarity agree to check in on Twilight and Spike and then come back to the spa. This is where we learn that it’s not Applejack who lost all her brain cells in this episode. No, this time it’s Twilight. Spike remarks that it would be faster if Twilight flew, but she insists on following a list of instructions designed around an earth pony verbatim. That would be like if Pinkie Pie followed instructions to go to a hardware store and buy a toolbox when she could just pull a wrench and screwdriver out of her mane. This episode has some good things about it, but its plot hinges on so many moments where characters are arbitrarily stupid or stubborn.

Twilight Sparkle: At least you two got to spend some time at the spa together.
Spike: Yeah, that must have been super relaxing.
Rarity: Well, if watching Applejack fix plumbing counts as relaxing, then yes.

This is a strange inconsistency between the script and storyboard—we saw Rarity relaxing at the spa without Applejack during that montage. It’s an error you wouldn’t notice unless you picked apart the episode in depth, but a lot of fans have done just that.

While performing her pig-feeding routine as intended, filled with wacky noises and cumbersome contraptions, Applejack gives a hilariously unaware monologue about how ponies can get so used to the way things are that they waste tons of time doing things they don’t need. It ends like this:

Applejack: I mean, I guess it’s possible to get stuck in a routine where you’re doing all this extra stuff and not realize it, but I can’t for the life of me think I have.
Applejack: Why are y’all staring at me like that?

Some fans might find it insufferable that Applejack is so unknowingly hypocritical, but I sense some realism in her behavior. If hypocrisy wasn’t so common in real life, there wouldn’t be a word for it. People act hypocritical all the time without realizing it, so I don’t think it’s out of character for Applejack to do the same. She then explains why her routine has all these extra steps.

Applejack: See, this gate here used to squeak so loud, the pigs would run to the other side of the pen and never come out. So I open and close it to let them know it’s safe.
Twilight Sparkle: But it doesn’t squeak anymore.
Applejack: Of course not. I fixed that ages ago.
Applejack: And then, I realize putting a little fright into them got them all hustling out of the pen.
Spike: They don’t look scared to me.
Applejack: Well, no, they got used to it.
Applejack: Which is why I started doing the chicken dance. To show them that if they didn’t get to eating their food, the chickens would.

The addition of the chicken dance is interesting because it shows that instead of removing a step from her routine when it no longer works, Applejack will add a new step to accommodate the problem. It sounds like she’s the type of person who stubbornly insists on following instructions in a very specific order, which is surprisingly easy for me to relate to. Habits are hard to break, because there’s a nagging voice in your brain that won’t go away unless you do what your habit tells you to. We should be thankful that Applejack’s bad habits are of the innocent type, nothing like an addiction to smoking.

With enough convincing from the other three, Applejack finally realizes what she’s been doing wrong, leading to another country rock montage of getting work done. While most of the efficient methods are perfectly sound, there’s one that requires Twilight and Rarity’s magic to turn multiple wheels at once, reminding us once again that unicorns are overpowered.

Also in the montage, Applejack patches holes in her fence that had already gone through multiple repairs, and Rarity steps in to swap it with a fresh new fence. Again, this is a familiar situation to me: if an item of yours has needed tons of repairs to keep it working, there eventually comes a point where it’s better to just get a new one. The problem is, when exactly do you draw the line? For me, it’s always much later than I should.

I like the episode’s friendship lesson quite a lot. It’s not just about fixing up inefficient routines or making time for the spa. It’s that an external look from a friend can help you realize problems you didn’t even know you had, which has some broader meaning than most people probably give credit.

When it comes down to it, Rainbow Dash and Rarity aren’t so different after all.

To end the episode, Rarity and Applejack enter the spa and once more encounter Rainbow Dash.

Rainbow Dash: (sigh) Thanks for letting me know there was an opening. I don’t know if I could make it without my pampered muzzle massage.
Aloe: Don’t worry about it. Should I put you down for another one tomorrow?
Rainbow Dash: Oh, absolutely. Sometimes a girl just has to pamper herself, am I right?
Rarity: (singsong) You certainly are!

Whoa there, Rainbow Dash is sounding an awful lot like Rainbow Dash, which is weird because her personality is totally different from Rainbow Dash. Though when you think about it, are Rainbow Dash and Rainbow Dash that different? One is from G3 and one is from G4, but they both have the same name. I think Rainbow Dash should open up a little and come to terms with the Rainbow Dash inside her.

(Real talk, I am imagining a rare viewer who’s very familiar with the G3 cast thinking at this scene, now that’s the Rainbow Dash I know.)

(Even realer talk, I find it funny that the only G3 characters fans of this show ever talk about are Rainbow Dash and Minty. Not even any of the other characters who share names or traits with G4 characters! Though I don’t think any of the contrasts are as striking as Rainbow Dash and Rainbow Dash.)

Rainbow Dash: Guh, uh, oh! Hey, I was just, uh…
Applejack: Getting a “sports pampering”?
Rarity: Don’t worry, Rainbow Dash. We were just heading in for some pampering ourselves. You could always join us.
Applejack: That is, if you don’t mind suffering through one or two frou-frou treatments.
Rainbow Dash: Guh… I suppose I could take it. You know, for you ponies.

This scene is exactly like two people finding out their friend who once was an outspoken hater of MLP secretly liked the show the whole time. One always knew their friend would love it if they gave it a chance, while the other didn’t expect it and can’t help but tease her about it.

Overall thoughts:

My thoughts on this episode have always been mixed, but I appreciated it and its lesson a lot more after reviewing it in depth. Sure, it’s much less eventful than most of season 6, and the plot has quite a few contrivances, but the moral is good and well conveyed, and it portrays Applejack as flawed but sympathetic while giving some good interactions with Rarity. But my favorite thing about this episode by far is the reveal that Rainbow Dash secretly loves the spa just as much as Rarity does. It’s hilarious, it’s adorable, and it fits her character perfectly.

Grade: C

I have a huge soft spot for Applejack and Rarity’s dynamic, and I can’t be too hard on any episode focused on it.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • At the spa, Lyra is seen in the lobby while Bon Bon is waiting in line, which is strange because you’d expect them to be in line together. Maybe Lyra hates spas and Bon Bon is only coming to collect mysterious insider info, so Bon Bon entered with her innocuous roommate to keep her tracks covered. Actually, that’s my new headcanon now. Lyra Heartstrings thinks spas are dumb and doesn’t understand why everyone loves them so much.
  • I love the little touch that Aloe pronounces Applejack’s name as “Appleyack”. I don’t know who had the idea to pronounce it that way, but it matches well with her eastern European sounding accent and the confusingly inconsistent way different languages pronounce the letter J. It also implies that she has read Applejack’s name in text, perhaps on a sign-up list?

While Applejack worked harder than necessary in this episode, the next one features a pony who will do anything he can to avoid working.

Season 6 Episode 11: Flutter Brutter

In five words: Fluttershy gets peeved with brother.

Premise: Fluttershy’s visit with her parents is interrupted by her absolute slacker of a younger brother, Zephyr Breeze, and she’s forced to stand up for her parents and help him get a job.

Detailed run-through:

With the volume of her voice, Rainbow Dash sticks out against Fluttershy’s soft-spoken family.

This episode begins with Rainbow Dash having a nice, calm lunch with Fluttershy and her parents. Though Fluttershy is the only Mane 6 member whose parents don’t have known full names, it makes sense that Rainbow Dash would address them as Mr. and Mrs. Shy. It reminds us that she and Fluttershy are childhood friends, and when you’re young, you’re unlikely to know your friends’ parents by their first names.

Mr. Shy: In fact, I converted the back house to showcase my cloud collection. I have my clouds, your mom has her flowers, Fluttershy’s got her animals, and your brother…
Mrs. Shy: Zephyr Breeze has his… interests.
Rainbow Dash: I’ll say. Remember when he was convinced square clouds were gonna be the next big thing? (laughs)
Mrs. Shy: He’s matured a lot since then.
Mr. Shy: Actually, it’s funny you bring Zephyr up.
Fluttershy: Oh, no! Not again.
Mrs. Shy: It’s just for a little while, dear. Till he gets back on his hooves.

With their middle-aged designs, their slow gentle tone, and the polite way they talk about their son’s strange interests, Mr. and Mrs. Shy absolutely nail the archetype of “your friend’s parents who are very kind to you but don’t understand how your life works”. If you are acquainted with any of your friends’ families, surely at least one of them has parents who are like this. Or maybe your own parents are like this?

And there we have it: Zephyr Breeze is introduced. His first impression is showy and narcissistic, accompanied with jazzy bass music, giving humorous contrast against the rest of his family.

Zephyr Breeze is the last of the Mane 6’s siblings to be introduced. While many fans found it odd that we didn’t know Shining Armor existed until the season 2 finale, it may be even stranger that Zephyr Breeze wasn’t introduced until season 6, though I don’t find it weird at all. It’s perfectly normal for a show like this to not introduce all the main characters’ families until the middle or late seasons, when the obvious ideas for episodes have been done, and now the show looks to expand on existing characters’ childhoods. In addition, it says something about Fluttershy’s relationship with Zephyr Breeze that we didn’t meet him until this late. While Pinkie Pie was excited for her friends to meet her sisters and methodically set things up for them to have fun, and Shining Armor encounters the Mane 6 due to his important position in the Crystal Empire, Fluttershy was never exactly itching for her friends to meet her brother. It shows that some people would prefer for their friends not to know their siblings, which is realistic.

Zephyr Breeze: Hi, Flutter Butter! How’s the bestest big sister ever?
Zephyr Breeze: Hey, where’s the love? How about a little excitement to see your baby brother? (rubs Fluttershy’s hair)
Fluttershy: I’m just surprised. When you left, you said mane therapy was your calling.
Zephyr Breeze: Oh, it is, sis, it is. You would not believe how much stress ponies pulled in their manes. Everything gets limp and unmanageable. No offense, but rushing alone won’t solve the problem.
Fluttershy: (deadpan) What went wrong?

It may seem like a strange choice for Fluttershy’s brother to be by far the least likable of the Mane 6’s siblings, but if you think of Fluttershy’s character, this is a logical choice. Imagine if Fluttershy had a cutesy little sister the age of Apple Bloom who was meek and humble and always wanted to help others. That wouldn’t be very interesting, because the cuteness factor is already covered by Fluttershy herself. Instead, the show gave her a brother much older than Applejack or Rarity’s little sisters, and his interactions with Fluttershy show that even the sweetest and kindest people can be driven crazy by their siblings.

The differences between the portrayal of the Mane 6’s families reflect when they first appeared—the later you get, the more distinct and unique the family members’ designs are, and the more they are based on real-life family situations. As adorable as the Cutie Mark Crusaders are, they’re young enough that their dynamics with their big sisters sometimes feel more like a parent and child, especially Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo. Applejack also acts like a parental figure for Apple Bloom, due to the absence of their parents, leaving Rarity and Sweetie Belle as the pair that acts the most like siblings. In contrast, Zephyr Breeze is close enough in age to Fluttershy that there’s no mistaking their dynamic for a parent and child.

Zephyr Breeze presents a weird, messy hair model to his parents, and his mom awkwardly says it is lovely—a realistic depiction of parents not knowing how to deal with their irresponsible child.

Is Zephyr Breeze’s crush on Rainbow Dash obnoxious? Yes. Is his crush on Rainbow Dash hilarious anyway? Yes. Just look at Rainbow Dash’s face when Zephyr claims that her awesome flyer act is done just to impress him. It’s just too humorous for me to hate.

If Fluttershy had a sibling introduced early in the show, Fluttershy would have probably been the less responsible sibling. But instead, she is not just more responsible than her brother, but less tolerant of his antics than their parents are. She pulls her parents aside to dissuade them from letting Zephyr stay again, because he’ll just mooch off of them. The introduction of her family is a great way to show how much her character has been developed.

Another good detail is the usage of clouds as cushions, something only pegasi can do.

I love the little detail that Rainbow Dash is distracting herself by reading not just any Daring Do book, but the one where she made a guest appearance. She’s probably reread this book more times than any other in the series and has practically memorized the whole thing, so it’s become more of a fidget toy than a book to reread.

After finishing his monologue, Zephyr goes up to his bedroom and asks his parents to take care of all his chores, much to the girls’ annoyance.

How polite of Rainbow Dash to fly at Fluttershy’s speed instead of her own.

Now for the iconic scene.

Rainbow Dash: I know you weren’t expecting to see your brother, but… you’ve been kind of quiet, even for you.
Fluttershy: I’m sorry, but… I am just so… so… PEEVED right now!

Fluttershy’s language, on the other hand, is not nearly as polite.

Fluttershy: (gasp) Excuse my language.

As I said in a season 4 review, Fluttershy’s embarrassed reaction to saying the word “peeved” puts into question every time she accused animals of foul language. Maybe that time when a group of beavers used rude language to Applejack, all they really said was “Applejack is a big dumb jerkface”. And maybe when Seabreeze swore in his own language about the other Breezies, the worst thing he said was “these Breezies are driving me nuts!” Actually, now that I think of it, that’s exactly how I interpret all such scenes. It would fit Fluttershy’s character well, and it would also be funny. It’s also worth noting that because of Rainbow Dash’s shocked face and the stern look on the mare who covers a kid’s ears, some fans believe that “peeved” is considered profanity in Ponyville.

Cheese Sandwich’s cameo in this wallet is notable because it hints that we’ll see him again before the show ends.

Rainbow Dash: We just had lunch with Fluttershy’s parents, and you’ll never guess who showed up.
Pinkie Pie: Ooh! Mayor Mare? Cranky Doodle Donkey? Cheese Sandwich? Ms. Harshwhinny?
Rainbow Dash: Zephyr Breeze.
Pinkie Pie: Oh, that makes more sense.
Applejack: And from the look on your face, I’m guessing it’s for another one of his “extended stays”?

It turns out that even though we didn’t meet Zephyr Breeze until now, at least four of the Mane 6 already know who he is, which is easy to justify. I presume that the last time they encountered Zephyr was before Twilight Sparkle moved to Ponyville, and that would mean she and Spike hadn’t heard of him. This would make sense because Twilight’s move to Ponyville marks the start of the show.

The mare on the right should be glad Rainbow Dash didn’t call Fluttershy a “dork”.
If she did, the foal would lose any meager trace of innocence remaining.

Rainbow Dash: She’s a bit peeved.

I always forget that the “peeved” gag has a little follow-up, and it always makes me laugh a little too hard. Fluttershy may be peeved, but she’s nowhere near as peeved as that poor mare who has to keep protecting her child from all this offensive language.

Fluttershy: Zephyr is my brother and I love him. But he’s never learned to do anything for himself, and I don’t know why my parents keep letting him trot all over them.
Applejack: Well, if your parents won’t stand up for themselves, maybe you need to stand up for them.
Fluttershy: You know, you’re right.

It’s very emotionally mature of Fluttershy to realize that her parents have a problem. It’s something only an adult could do, which is funny because this show was supposed to be aimed at kids. While the Mane 6 started out in a gray area between teenager and adult, now they’re unquestionably and consistently portrayed as adults. This episode feels like one of the most adult-oriented of the show, and I don’t mean it has risqué jokes. I mean that the situations feel far more applicable to adults than to children, both for Fluttershy and for Zephyr Breeze. “Adult-oriented” doesn’t have to mean “not safe for kids”!

When Zephyr Breeze throws out pieces of his dad’s collection of clouds from the cloud factory and damages his mom’s collection of flowers, that just bites so hard. It’s difficult for any parents to draw the line on letting their kids do what they want, and Zephyr’s have given up on that entirely.

I’m super relieved I wrote this review AFTER moving out of my parents’ house.
If it was before, analyzing it would have been much more uncomfortable, because finding a house came only after months of procrastination.

Zephyr Breeze: Don’t be so dramatic, sis. Mom and Dad just want to let me be me, right? I can do plenty on my own.
Fluttershy: I agree. Which is why you should move out.
Zephyr Breeze: Oh. Well. I mean. I totally would. But… I don’t think that’s what Mom and Dad want. It’s not, is it?
Mrs. Shy: Uh…
Mr. Shy: You know we love you, son, but your sister has a point.
Zephyr Breeze: Sure. I mean, I really just came back here to keep you guys company, but… whatever’s best for the family. I just gotta grab a few essentials.

Notice the way Zephyr Breeze is alternating between fake excuses for why he wants to stay with his parents. This is what happens when his mind is refusing to face the truth—I have to admit, I’ve been there a lot. Amidst tears, Zephyr grabs a few items to bring where he decides to live.

And that place turns out to be none other than Fluttershy’s house! It’s painfully common for people to decide that if their parents won’t do a certain favor for them, they’ll decide bossing around their siblings is the next best thing. I’ve been in Fluttershy’s situation a lot regarding favors in general, not specifically crashing in my house (thankfully). Rainbow Dash makes a fake excuse to escape Zephyr’s creepy advances, then Fluttershy makes a deal with him.

I like how Fluttershy only calls Zephyr Breeze by his full name when especially agitated.

Fluttershy: Ugh, fine. You can stay here…
Zephyr Breeze: You’re the best! We’re gonna have so much fun.
Fluttershy: On one condition.
Zephyr Breeze: Totally. Anything.
Fluttershy: You have to get a job.
Zephyr Breeze: Cracking the whip, huh? You always were kind of bossy.
Fluttershy: Zephyr Breeze!
Zephyr Breeze: Kidding! Get a job. Absolutely.

I don’t think Zephyr Breeze is lying or exaggerating when he describes Fluttershy as bossy. It’s normal for people to act differently with their siblings than they would with anyone else, and Fluttershy’s frustration with her brother is a perfect example. Siblings drive each other crazy all the time, no matter how gentle and kind-hearted they act with others, and that’s nothing unusual. It would be weirder if Fluttershy was always patient and easygoing with her brother.

Zephyr Breeze is discomforted to find that his sister already chose a job for him, namely to help Rarity dye fabrics. Now this is a case where I can sympathize with Zephyr: it never feels good for a family member to push you into a job or other life choice, and it’s so much better to pick something of your own. The problem is that taking initiative isn’t always easy, making this a precarious situation.

Zephyr Breeze notices our good friend Opalescence playing with the bowls of paint, and he gets an idea. This is the result:

Apparently, Zephyr thought that he shared his sister’s communication with animals, so he sat back while a bunch of woodland creatures made a gigantic mess. This is the result of the intimidating “ugh, where do I BEGIN” mindset when faced with the peril of finding a new job. Fluttershy is driven crazy, and Rarity stutters in her characteristic befuddlement when she sees the results.

Twilight Sparkle might not know much about Zephyr Breeze, but she does know his flight would make him a good candidate to clean the windows of her castle. Hiring Zephyr to clean her house is a smarter idea than what Rarity had…

… but not that much smarter. Spike was left to supervise, but Zephyr tricked him into doing all the work. As frustrating as this is, Spike was a better fit for the job anyway, since he’s naturally loyal and eager to help out.

It’s pretty awesome that Fluttershy managed to convince Rainbow Dash to help someone who she can’t stand.
We don’t know how Fluttershy did it!

Next in line to give Zephyr Breeze a job is Rainbow Dash, whose no-nonsense attitude he unfortunately finds attractive.

Rainbow Dash: (groan) We’re going to Wonderbolts headquarters. And I am going to give you a job so simple and straightforward, not even you can weasel your way out of it.
Rainbow Dash: And the second you try, I’m gonna zap you with a storm cloud. Got it?
Zephyr Breeze: Oh, I got it. I can already feel the electricity between us.

Rainbow Dash’s statement might sound like an empty threat, but the next scene proves she wasn’t kidding:

I find it interesting that this episode doesn’t have all the Mane 6 try to give Zephyr Breeze a job. Only three of them did, and the last job took place offscreen. Since not all the Mane 6 tried giving Zephyr a job, this allows us more time to explore Zephyr’s insecurities and relations with his family. Plus, after seeing her brother get zapped, I think Fluttershy realized that asking her friends to give Zephyr a job won’t work. We don’t need to see him destroy a barrel of apples or splatter cake frosting all over Sugarcube Corner, because we get the idea now.

When Zephyr Breeze continues being resistant to getting a job, Fluttershy kicks him out of the house, and he resolves to live in the woods. We’ll soon see how well that works out.

Rainbow Dash: Aw, cheer up, Fluttershy! I know it was hard, but you did the right thing. You couldn’t let Zephyr pull the same stuff on you that he’s always pulled on your folks.
Fluttershy: I guess so.

Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash have some great interactions in this episode. Their longtime friendship means they know each other’s weaknesses well and support them to better themselves, with neither of them being too harsh about it.

It’s not even been a day in the woods—in fact, we later see that it’s noon—and Zephyr has already lost it. While the short timespan needed for him to flip out is mostly played for laughs, it also shows how painfully short his attention span is, and how difficult it is for him to stay focused on one thing. The girls observe him from a distance and say the following:

Rainbow Dash: I know he needs to learn to do things for himself, but…
Fluttershy: Augh. I can’t let him live like this.
Rainbow Dash: Actually, I don’t think he’d make it through the night.

Careful, Rainbow Dash. You almost said the D-word (die), even though the show has used that word in figures of speech a few times. The show is usually good at working around that constraint without sounding too cheesy, and it makes sense that Rainbow Dash only indirectly mentions the possibility of death when talking about her friend’s brother. Otherwise, it would be way too mean.

Zephyr Breeze: Ugh, I can’t do this. I can’t do anything.
Fluttershy: Zephyr, you’re smart and talented. You could do anything if you just tried.
Zephyr Breeze: And what if I give everything I have and still fail? Honestly, I think it’s better not to try at all.
Rainbow Dash: But then you won’t ever do anything.
Zephyr Breeze: I don’t expect you two to understand. I mean, when have you ever failed? You literally helped save Equestria like a dozen times.
Fluttershy: And I was worried that I’d fail every time. Sometimes, you have to do things, even though you might fail.
Zephyr Breeze: But failing is the worst!
Fluttershy: And quitting doesn’t feel much better, does it?
Zephyr Breeze: No.

This is some advice that a lot of fans need to hear. It’s clear that this episode was devised knowing the life situations of adult viewers. While the stereotype that all bronies sit around in their parents’ basements all day is extremely stupid, it’s true that a lot of nerdy types have trouble putting themselves out in the world and retreat in fear of change. This is where we finally see what Fluttershy and Zephyr Breeze have in common: a massive fear of failure that makes it hard for them to attempt new things. Fluttershy has gradually learned this skill through the course of the show, and now she’s helping Zephyr do the same. She tells her brother he can stay with her a little longer if he does exactly what she says.

Before the song starts, we get a silly little exchange:

Fluttershy: Okay. You know what you have to do, right?
Zephyr Breeze: Beg for help, then quit when I get frustrated.
Zephyr Breeze: Just kidding! Total opposite of that, got it.

You do not want to know how many times I told a sarcastic joke jabbing at myself, and people didn’t think it was a joke. It always feels so embarrassing, yet I’ve done it so many times.

Anyway, the song in this episode is called “Can I Do It On My Own”, and this is another season 6 episode that I always forget has a song. Maybe because the song is near the end, or because it’s overshadowed by the memetic scenes? Or it could be a case like On Your Marks, where the song flows very smoothly in the episode’s plot.

I’m not totally sure why Rainbow Dash is in this song. My best guess is so she can sing duets with Fluttershy.

As is typical of season 6’s musical numbers, this song heavily conveys mood through composition. It has two upward key changes, and the instrumentation gradually evolves to be more uplifting as Zephyr takes the daunting first step and begins his hair trimming practice. He ends by singing that he can do it on his own, and all it took was believing he could.

Zephyr is right: finishing a project always feels amazing.

Zephyr Breeze: I did it. I actually finished something. By myself!
Rainbow Dash: And it looks exactly like it’s supposed to.
Fluttershy: I knew you could do it, Zephyr.
Zephyr Breeze: I didn’t! But I do now. Thanks for believing in me, sis.

This episode has a secondary moral (when was the last time I said that phrase?): part of being a good older sibling is believing that your younger sibling has what it takes to do great things. Actually, it doesn’t have to just be siblings: this episode shows us how important it is for people to believe in their family members. It makes such a huge difference when your family trusts you and thinks you’re capable of accomplishing your dreams.

I love this face so much.

Rainbow Dash: Thanks for dinner, Mr. and Mrs. Shy. It was great as usual.
Mrs. Shy: Thank you, dear, for not giving up on Zephyr. After all these years of pining for him, it must be so satisfying to see him on the right track.
Rainbow Dash: Huh?!

It’s a universal constant that any adults who you first met when you were a kid will make the most painfully embarrassing misconceptions about your life. This applies to your friends’ parents, your parents’ friends, or even grandparents and aunts and uncles. Information will get spread across family friends and get mutated like a telephone game, and the next time you see your best friend’s mom or your aunt, she will confidently say something completely wrong about you, or act excessively amazed by something basic that you accomplished three years ago, like learning how to drive. (This has happened to me.)

Zephyr Breeze comes in and reveals he graduated from mane* therapy school, much to the pride of all the others, even Rainbow Dash. But then, realism ensues when he reveals he doesn’t have a place to stay yet and has to be with his parents a little longer. Is this a “here we go again” ending, the kind of ending most episodes of this show avoid? A little bit, I’d say, but not really.

* I accidentally capitalized this word when I first typed it. I didn’t realize “Mane 6” was this ingrained in my muscle memory.

Overall thoughts:

Some people might hate this episode because they find Zephyr Breeze insufferable, but that’s exactly why I enjoy it. He’s a realistic portrayal of a problem that many adult viewers of the show have to go through: struggling to take the first step out into the real world, while having parents who don’t know how to say no to them. It provides a good, encouraging lesson to viewers with that problem while giving Fluttershy some satisfying character development. Meanwhile, Fluttershy’s parents are a hilariously accurate example of adults who get basic facts wrong about their children’s friends. When watching this episode, it’s easy to forget that you’re watching a kids’ show, because everything about it feels like it was designed for adult viewers, which is super common in season 6.

Grade: B

It’s far from the hardest-hitting episode about a Mane 6 member’s family, but it’s still very good.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • I realized early when writing this post that Zephyr Breeze is a valid troll name. If you have any idea what that means, then… well, actually, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have read Homestuck. Fantrolls are something that people who haven’t read the comic are exposed to and may even enjoy.
  • While Fluttershy pushing Zephyr Breeze to get a job is often compared to the SpongeBob episode “Can You Spare a Dime?”, I haven’t seen people point out another aspect of the similarity: in both cases, a yellow character has a taller greenish-blue character freeload off of them. I’m sure there are people who have noticed that, but in case you haven’t, now you have.
    • After having rewatched several episodes (including that one) with friends in person last month, I can safely say I will never grow out of finding SpongeBob SquarePants hilarious. Something about that show just hits so differently, even as an adult.

The next episode features another family conflict, but this time entirely with characters we’ve never met before.

See you next week for another episode where two Mane 6 members investigate a problem in a public building, and another episode that’s blatantly designed for the show’s adult fans.

EDIT: The latter episode will be in a separate post.

>> Part 67: Spice Up Your Life

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