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Season 6, Episodes 14-15
Warning: this post contains the most negative review of any episode I have written thus far. The second review, not the first one.
Season 6 Episode 14: The Cart Before the Ponies
In five words: Crusaders’ sisters ruin the fun.
Premise: The Cutie Mark Crusaders participate in a derby competition where they have to build their own carts. They each get help from their big sisters, who all take over the project and make it theirs.
After all the adult fan-oriented humor of the last episode, it’s quite the whiplash to hear a bunch of foals say “good morning, Miss Cheerilee!” Unlike in the Crusaders’ episodes of season 1, which featured tons of generic background fillies, all but one of the foals in the class is a named character, and the unnamed one is a colt with a clearly distinct design.
The class is very confused when Cheerilee tells them they’re going to learn advanced physics. Then when she says it’s going to be for this year’s Applewood Derby, they all cheer in excitement. I bet Cheerilee wrote a whole bunch of advanced math formulas on the chalkboard just as a prank to the class, so she could see their relieved and delighted faces when they learn about the derby.
I’m further convinced the math formulas were a joke when Cheerilee puts a much simpler blueprint over the chalkboard. Each of the foals in her class will be provided a block of apple wood that they have to make a cart out of in one day, and they can each choose an older pony to help them—the Crusaders all know who they’ll pick. There are three different awards for the race: fastest, most traditional, and most creative. It seems obvious which of the Crusaders would want to win each prize… right?
Sweetie Belle: Wow! Have you seen what the carts used to look like in the olden days?
Apple Bloom: Yeah, I know all about them. When Ponyville started the derby, they decided to use the wood from our apple trees for the carts. The race has been a part of Sweet Apple Acres ever since.
Sweetie Belle: I just think these old carts look so cool! But… I guess you and Applejack will probably win the award for most traditional, huh.
Apple Bloom: The Apples usually do, but honestly, I’d rather build the fastest cart there is and win the race!
Apple Bloom: But… I’m pretty sure Scoot and Rainbow Dash will take that award.
Scootaloo: You know, I race around so much on my scooter, being the fastest isn’t such a big deal. Maybe I’ll try to make the wildest looking cart I can think of!
Way back when I reviewed The Show Stoppers, which was almost two years ago, I discussed how the Crusaders are all portrayed as buffoons for ignoring their specialties in favor of things they aren’t good at. Well, I actually didn’t discuss it that much, because most of my season 1 reviews were very short, but I did bring it up. This episode does the opposite, now that they’ve grown and matured. It’s now seen as a good thing for them to get out of their comfort zones, because there’s much more to each of them as characters than being a mini Applejack, a mini Rarity, and a mini Rainbow Dash. Apple Bloom is ambitious and likes to dream big, Sweetie Belle has an interest in history, and Scootaloo has always had a small artistic side.
We’ve been inside Rainbow Dash’s house a bit more often this season than in the last several.
Rainbow Dash is excited to help Scootaloo with the Applewood Derby. She reveals she won the speed competition in the Cloudsdale Derby and wants to use her old cart blueprint with a few modifications. I think her interest in the contest makes sense knowing her. She will jump at any opportunity to take part in a competition, and can get short-sighted while doing so. I like the little touch that Rainbow Dash hastily throws all the items out of her boxes, which also feels on brand. Of course, she has to ignore Scootaloo’s idea to make a creative cart because otherwise the plot wouldn’t progress.
Applejack: Well, I’m mighty flattered you want to work with your big sis on your cart. I mean, the Applewood Derby is—
Apple Bloom: —done on our farm. I know!
Applejack: Well, I couldn’t be more proud to help my little sister take the prize for most traditional.
Apple Bloom: Actually, I was kind of thinking of something else. Like… fastest?
Applejack: Fastest? Apple Bloom, things aren’t like they were in the old days. The fastest cart now has got to be slick and modern and—
Apple Bloom: Exactly!
Applejack: Not Apple at all. The Apples win most traditional. We have since the derby started! Why would anypony want to win anything else?
Now we get to the recurring problem with Cutie Mark Crusaders episodes: the adult characters’ intelligence has to decrease in order to drive the plot. Applejack is the most common victim of this pattern, but all the Mane 6 can become infuriatingly stubborn and unwilling to listen to reason when the Crusaders are an episode’s focus. Applejack’s attitude towards Apple Bloom is harder to justify because unlike Rainbow Dash, she’s known her corresponding Crusader all her life and should know Apple Bloom likes to invent new things rather than stick to Apple family traditions.
Rarity’s bursts of childish excitement are one of my favorite things about her.
Rarity: Oh! The Applewood Derby? AH!!! Of course I’ll help!!!
Sweetie Belle: Wow! Uh… Rarity, I didn’t know you’d be this excited.
Rarity: Me? Oh, why, I’m just itching to right an old wrong from long, long ago!
We’ve never known Rarity to take interest in any competitions that don’t involve fashion, so this episode has to up make an incredibly silly reason for her to participate in the derby.
Rarity: I designed my own cart when I was just a filly, and I was positive I was going to win the prize for most creative hooves down.
Rarity: But I came in second. SECOND!
Sweetie Belle: You? Second to most creative? To whom?
I think this episode is the only time we see Rarity as a filly outside of The Cutie Mark Chronicles.
Also, I recognize the judge on the bottom right from Brotherhooves Social.
Rarity: But I learned a valuable lesson. I learned to know my audience, and the race cart audience wants big! They want bold!
And what better reason than her long-running rivalry with Derpy Hooves? By making revenge against Derpy the reason Rarity wants to take part in the competition, this episode embraces the absurd. I’m perfectly OK with this excuse because I love Rarity and I also love Derpy, and I also love the overdramatic lightning in the flashback. But Rarity’s unwillingness to listen to her sister is infuriating nonetheless.
Rarity: Soon, the prize for most creative will finally be in my hooves!
Sweetie Belle: You mean… my hooves.
Rarity: Yes, that’s what I said. My hooves.
Rarity is caught up in wanting revenge against Derpy to absurd degrees. If she lost the prize as a filly to any other character, I would think Rarity’s being ridiculous, but Derpy Hooves is all about absurd extremes—extreme clumsiness, extreme adoration by fans, extreme controversy when she first spoke, and extreme accidentally saving Equestria.
Sweetie Belle: (yawn) Rarity, the sun’s not even up yet.
Applejack: Oh, apples. Quit complaining! In my day, we were up even earlier.
Don’t you just love the “at least it’s not as bad as” logical fallacy? It’s the perfect way to not make someone feel the slightest bit better about their unpleasant situation. All three of the Crusaders’ sisters nod in agreement, because this episode has arbitrarily decided to make them all equally unreasonable.
Rainbow Dash: Hey, I’d get up in the middle of the night if it means my cart crosses that first and wins fastest!
Rarity: And my cart wins most creative.
Applejack: And my cart wins most traditional. Hoo-wee, it’s gonna be a good day!
Scootaloo: You mean our carts, right?
Rarity: Yes, that’s what we said, darling.
Rainbow Dash: Our carts.
Can Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash not see how unhappy the Cutie Mark Crusaders look? They’re doing the annoying thing that some episodes do, where multiple characters who normally have distinct unique personalities all smugly agree to put others through a bunch of painful suffering.
Next up, each of the Crusaders gets a scene where their big sister completely ignores their ideas. Each of those scenes ends with the Crusader saying something similar. Scootaloo says “right, fun”, Apple Bloom says “right, perfect”, and Sweetie Belle says “right, wonderful”. I think Rainbow Dash is the least in the wrong of the Mane 6 members, because Scootaloo isn’t her biological sister. Sometimes, Rainbow Dash treats Scootaloo as less of a sister and more of a loyal sidekick like her own personal Spike, and this episode is a good example.
The most interesting thing about the Apple sisters’ scene is that when Apple Bloom takes off the fringe of the traditional cart, Applejack says she’s going to have to start from scratch because the cart has to be perfect. It sounds like this is a tradition that Applejack holds very dear to her, and I guess it’s typical of her to be insistent on continuing a years-old routine? But it’s also super annoying and belittling to Apple Bloom.
I’m guessing Sweetie Belle’s only participation in this cart was grabbing some supplies?
The episode deliberately goes off the wall with Rarity’s thirst for revenge, with her theatrical emphasis of the words “big” and “bold”. I find it hilarious when Rarity gets absurdly dramatic and hammy, but her treatment of Sweetie Belle is upsetting anyway.
At this point, Scootaloo has embraced the meme of calling her a chicken.
She’s reclaimed the insult for herself!
Even more upsetting is the montage where the Crusaders try adding features to the carts to match their own visions, but the adult ponies keep taking them off. They’re all being jerks to their little sisters just so that the plot can happen. The montage is set to an instrumental of this episode’s song “Derby Racers”, which is unusual because montages set to instrumentals typically happen after the musical number.
Derpy had the cleverly efficient idea of using sliced logs as wheels.
They’re already circular, so why modify them further? Well, aside from safety concerns.
As we can see on the left side of this image, Derpy Hooves is the champ of this episode, and Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash should all strive to be like her. She and another colt worked together to make a cart that mixes Derpy’s style with a more typical cart style, and as shown by their joyed expressions, it looks like they evenly shared the work. I think everyone should strive to be more like Derpy. She’s clumsy and messes up sometimes, but she always tries her best and everyone loves her. The number 1 on her cart clearly indicates that to fans, she is always number one.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders, on the other hand, aren’t quite as pleased. They at first trust that their sisters know what they’re doing and at least will get to drive the carts, but when the race starts, they find out they don’t even get to do that.
I like the design of Diamond Tiara’s cart. It’s got some of her personality marked on it with two gems and a crown, but it otherwise looks simple and sleek and not oversaturated, fitting her redeemed character. The cart that Derpy helped make, however, is the true star of the show. It’s an artistic exercise in minimalism, showing the absolute fewest changes needed to turn a block of wood into a cart. It’s also the only cart that even remotely makes logical sense to be built from a single block of wood. Derpy is the hero of this episode who does everything right. She treats her foal partner with respect, her cart doesn’t require much suspension of disbelief, and she’s overall a good sport.
Cheerilee’s name already sounds like “cheerleader”, so her dressing up as one was inevitable.
Cheerilee: Um, aren’t you all missing somepony?
Applejack: They’ll be along.
Cheerilee: And um, usually the younger ponies drive the carts.
Rarity: (laughs) Darling, do these look like usual carts to you?
(Cheerilee rolls her eyes)
In Rarity’s defense, her cart’s passenger seat on top is far too small for her. It’s too late to change the cart to be drivable by Sweetie Belle, and given that Cheerilee is laid back with rules and has known Rarity for years (at least since Rarity got her cutie mark), I guess I can see why she would let the older ponies have this one.
The cart race takes place during an upbeat song called “Derby Racers”, and I always forget how long it is. Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash each brag about their carts, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders sing in unison about how distraught they are. It’s a cute song, but it’s weighed down by how mean these three ponies are being to the Crusaders.
For instance, why is Rarity using her cart’s wings to block the other ponies? She wanted to win most creative, not fastest! Unless she wants to indirectly help Rainbow Dash win, but she’s still being a jerk. Even Derpy looks annoyed about this, and it’s not at all easy to get on her bad side.
When we see the racetrack in full, we see an eight-way intersection at the center, because apparently safety was not a concern when designing the tracks. There are bridges over the track, so it would have been totally possible to use bridges to prevent the route from intersecting itself. Oh wait, the track can’t be designed safely, because if it was, then this couldn’t have happened:
Not shown: Rainbow Dash’s cart losing a wheel and steering out of control.
Sure, let’s pretend it makes sense for every single one of the carts to have crashed into each other all at once. And let’s also pretend it makes sense that no one was seriously injured in the crash. But it does NOT make sense that Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash weren’t treated MUCH more harshly for the destruction they caused. Rainbow Dash responds to the Cutie Mark Crusaders’ frustration with an oblivious “why didn’t you tell us”, even though the Crusaders DID tell them not to hog the project for themselves. MULTIPLE TIMES. But no, apparently their punishment is nothing more than to sit out the do-over race and let the foals race without adult supervision. This means that all the other adult ponies are needlessly punished for something they didn’t even do! The Mane 6 members’ apologies are filled with understatements that they aren’t even called out for, making them seem insincere.
But it gets worse. Much worse. Think of dear, sweet Derpy and how heartbroken she must be that she doesn’t get to experience the joy of cart racing this year without a nasty accident at the end. Actually, she would respond to this news with a glum “oh, okay” and try her best to be happy anyway.
And so, the episode is quickly wrapped up by showing the Crusaders’ second attempts at carts, crafted in true collaboration. I think Apple Bloom’s cart has the coolest design, mixing a modern cart design with symbols that still pay tribute to the Apple family. Weirdly, we don’t get to see whether the Crusaders earned the prizes they had aimed for, but it’s safe to assume that they do.
As for the ponies who were jerks to the Crusaders this entire episode, they get to relax and watch from the sidelines instead of being punished for their misdeeds. I just hope that each of them gets a stern talking to once this is all done. If Big Macintosh finds out how poorly his sister treated his other sister, I’m sure he’ll give Applejack a real piece of his mind.
I wasn’t expecting to be so harsh on this episode, but Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity’s treatment of the Cutie Mark Crusaders is so much worse than I remembered. With Applejack and Rarity, it feels like a big step backwards in their relationships with their little sisters. Rainbow Dash is slightly more excusable, but she was still a jerk in this episode. The whole story of this episode feels pretty simplistic and childish, and the only parts that didn’t leave a sour taste in my mouth were those involving Derpy Hooves. Typically, the Cutie Mark Crusaders’ episodes either have the kids learn a lesson at the end, or elegantly have both the kids and adults take something away. In this episode, it feels like neither of them really learned a lesson or got fair punishments for what they did. The Crusaders are just treated like jerks until their sisters immediately stop being thick-headed, and then all is apparently well.
I usually like an episode more after analyzing it in detail, but this review made me like it a LOT less.
- You can see in the background that Diamond Tiara didn’t choose either of her parents as the adult to build her cart with, but rather Randolph. It’s obviously why she wouldn’t want to do it with Spoiled Rich, and as for Filthy Rich, maybe she felt that her dad’s riches and resources would give her cart an unfair advantage. So by elimination, she probably deduced Randolph was the best, fairest choice.
- This is the first Cutie Mark Crusaders episode of the show where cutie marks aren’t mentioned at all. If this episode wasn’t so sloppy and obnoxious, I’d praise it for that.
While Rainbow Dash was the least annoying of the three Mane 6 members in this episode, the next one is going to make her a million times more obnoxious than she’s ever been.
Season 6 Episode 15: 28 Pranks Later
In five words: Rainbow Dash’s most painful episode.
Premise: The citizens of Ponyville are getting fed up with Rainbow Dash’s endless pranks on them, so they set up an insane and much scarier prank in return.
I procrastinated on starting this review for a whole week, until two days before the post was scheduled to come out, because I think this episode sucks and feels like it came from a parallel universe where everything about the show is painfully simplistic and infantilizing. It was a brick wall the last time I rewatched through season 6, making me pause that rewatch for a few months. I really, badly, deeply, desperately want to spare myself from the suffering and skip this episode. I had to fight the temptation to write “this episode sucks, the end” and move on to The Times They Are a Changeling. And yet, here I am, forcing myself to stick to my promise of reviewing every episode. So let’s just get this over with, OK?
Detailed run-through, begrudging as it may be:
I was tempted to heat up my leftover pizza before starting this review, but that would have distracted me from writing it.
That’s the nature of procrastination: you keep telling yourself you have other things to do while ignoring the thing you’re putting off.
The very beginning of this episode is already painful to watch. Rainbow Dash scares Fluttershy with a shadow monster disguise, then laughs at her childhood best friend for being freaked out and driven to tears, which is more painful to watch than all but the very worst moments of the worst Rainbow Dash and Spike episodes. This episode could have started with a prank on some supporting character like Big Macintosh or Mayor Mare or Lyra Heartstrings so that it doesn’t start with complete pain, but no, it had to start with a prank on the cutesy shy girl who fans love so much. Way back in Griffon the Brush Off, Rainbow Dash agreed to draw the line with pranks on Fluttershy, but here she has completely forgotten that, and for what purpose? For me to suffer, that’s why.
Fluttershy angrily denies Rainbow Dash’s statement that she’s scared of everything, and then when Rainbow Dash says “boo”, she jumps and hides in a tree. Is this a reversal of Fluttershy’s character development, or a fair reaction given she’s still in her panic mode from the costume? Either way, Rainbow Dash’s character is overwritten to be much more unlikable than any episode ever did before. Yes, even The Mysterious Mare Do Well.
After a gracious thirty-second breather from painful suffering known as the “theme song”, the Mane 6 are gathered together with all except Pinkie Pie telling Rainbow Dash that pranks aren’t funny if you’re the only one laughing. This scene has the tone of Rainbow Dash being taught a friendship lesson, and it would be so miraculous if the episode ended right here! But no, we still have 19 more minutes of this episode. 19 minutes! That would be less of a problem if the show didn’t make the highly intelligent and respectable decision to make its episodes 22 minutes long instead of 11, like kids’ shows usually are.
I hate to admit that the whoopee cushion scene makes me laugh as hard as Pinkie Pie does, even though the rest of the Mane 6 scold Rainbow Dash for making an overused fart joke. That’s another problem with this episode: despite intentions, the fact that this show went five and a half seasons without making a fart joke and finally did one in season 6 is, at least in my opinion, extremely funny. The reason it’s funny is because in a show that normally avoids this vulgar humor, the whoopee cushion joke is genuinely unexpected, and unexpectedness is the principal source of all humor.
Applejack: A whoopee cushion is like a joke shortcut.
Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash: WHAT?!
Rarity: Honestly, Rainbow Dash, if you are not willing to put forth the effort required to pull a prank that everypony can enjoy, you may as well not pull one at all.
Going by this passage, even the writer of this episode, who wrote no other episodes of this show, doesn’t find fart jokes all that funny. Like Spike at Your Service, the parts of the episode that I find the funniest aren’t the parts that were intended to be funny.
I have really sunk to a new low. The only thing that I genuinely enjoy about this episode is a fucking fart joke. What has my life become.
Also, THE FRIENDSHIP LESSON OF THIS EPISODE IS ALREADY COMPLETELY CLEAR FROM THIS SCENE, SO THERE IS NO REASON AT ALL FOR THE NEXT EIGHTEEN MINUTES TO EXIST. IT’S ABUNDANTLY CLEAR TO EVEN THE YOUNGEST, MOST JUVENILE OF VIEWERS, WHICH IS REALLY INSULTING BECAUSE THE SHOW NORMALLY DOES SUCH AN INCREDIBLE JOB BEING SOMETHING THAT ADULTS CAN ENJOY, LIKE WHY DO YOU THINK I HAVE REVIEWED FIVE AND A HALF ENTIRE SEASONS OF THIS SHOW IN DEPTH AND GIVEN MOST OF THEM POSITIVE GRADES?
Rainbow Dash decides that she must put more effort into her pranks from here on out, leading to a sequence of pranks that are each painful to watch in their own way. Rainbow Dash puts a cake in the middle of Rarity’s boutique with a mannequin on top, and Rarity says she won’t fall for the prank but then is met with a sewing machine that turns out to be a cake. I’m going to guess that viewers are probably meant to find these pranks funny? But the only thing about this scene that’s at all amusing is Sweetie Belle’s delight to eat some cake.
Rainbow Dash’s pranks aren’t just bizarre, but they also leave me scratching my head as to how they’re possible, especially considering Applejack set up a complicated network of ropes and chains to protect her bedroom from nighttime pranks. Like, I know this show has a lot of cartoon humor, but this is just impossible to believe. She has to have gotten someone with loads of magic powers to help, like Discord or Starlight Glimmer, or… maybe Pinkie Pie? Nah, Discord would have snapped his fingers to make a two-headed pig, Pinkie Pie is never overwritten to be this much of a jerk, and Starlight Glimmer would be a voice of reason if she were in this episode.
Then comes a montage of more pranks that are similarly obnoxious and similarly implausible, and I’m not going to comment on them except one (and one other in the miscellaneous notes):
If Rainbow Dash drew this behind the board, then she must have drawn it upside down.
Not shown: Cheerilee flipping the board back to reveal Rainbow Dash herself.
Rainbow Dash’s prank on Cheerilee makes her entire class laugh, meaning that Rainbow Dash has succeeded in pulling a prank that leads to laughter. That defeats the point of this montage, and arguably the point of everything that happens for the next 15 minutes of this episode. You could argue that this prank didn’t make its intended victim laugh, but I argue that the intended victim was the entire class, not just Cheerilee.
Pinkie Pie happily reveals to a bunch of angry ponies that Rainbow Dash and Gummy pranked her too, and it’s like, WE GET IT. Pinkie Pie likes being pranked, the rest don’t. We already knew this back in season 1. We didn’t need an entire episode of suffering to convey that you should only pull pranks on friends who you will know get a laugh out of it. This episode feels so much more childish and patronizing than anything else in season 6, and it has every negative trait that I am normally happy the show doesn’t have.
The others ask Pinkie Pie if she could help get Rainbow Dash to stop, and she’s visibly conflicted about it.
I have to admit, I find it amusing that Pinkie Pie has to restrain herself from getting excited about the pranks.
Rainbow Dash tells Pinkie Pie about a plan to prank everyone in Ponyville by switching out all the Filly Guide cookies that will be delivered tonight with joke cookies that make a little rainbow appear on their chins when eaten.
Pinkie Pie: Uh… I don’t know. I mean, it doesn’t really seem all that funny.
Rainbow Dash: WHAT?!
Pinkie Pie: Maybe this is a good time to stop pranking for a while. The other ponies in town are really—
Rainbow Dash: Stop?! No way. This prank is happening, Pinkie, and it’s gonna be hilarious!
Here is the annoying pattern with Rainbow Dash for the umpteenth time. Rainbow Dash is harshly criticized, and we’re supposed to sympathize with the ponies picking on her, and she comes up with a painfully foolish retaliation scheme that we already know won’t give her what she wants. Also, it’s weird that this episode keeps telling viewers whether the pranks are funny or not, instead of letting them make their own judgements.
And here’s the moment where the episode flips from Rainbow Dash driving everyone crazy to everyone else driving her crazy. It starts with Pinkie Pie pretending to be sick from all the cookies and demanding even more of them, and while I think it’s cool that she’s good at the act, it’s unfun to see Rainbow Dash put through this torture.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders can pull a heavy cart with ease unless they’re in a Cutie Mark Crusaders episode.
Next up comes a montage where the Cutie Mark Crusaders sell Filly Guide cookies, a counterpart to Girl Scout cookies, to every house in Ponyville with their typical childish enthusiasm. Rainbow Dash laughs all the way through about her prank just to make us suffer.
One thing I can defend about this episode is that if anyone can get all of Ponyville to participate in this prank, it’s Pinkie Pie.
Rainbow Dash is confused that no one seems to be bursting out of their houses and eating the cookies, then she goes to Sugarcube Corner to find Mrs. Cake, Pinkie Pie, and even the babies behaving like freaky zombies who say only one word: cookies. In The Mysterious Mare Do Well, it was merely the rest of the Mane 6 who tormented Rainbow Dash to teach her a lesson. In Newbie Dash, it was just the rest of the Wonderbolts. But in this episode, it’s much worse: everyone in Ponyville is unanimously agreeing that putting Rainbow Dash through peril to teach her a lesson is a good idea. The fear factor in this scene is undermined when rewatching, because all I can think about is how mean everyone in Ponyville is being to Rainbow Dash.
Angel is the one character who I can believe would be this mean to Rainbow Dash.
Fluttershy is participating in this prank too and got her animals to play along, which is weird because she isn’t known for responding to cruelty by being cruel in return. Plus, last time Fluttershy used her animals to scare all her friends, she didn’t enjoy it and only did it because her friends wanted her to get out of her comfort zone. This is the recurring problem with Rainbow Dash episodes: in many of them, all other characters are smoothened to be equally mean and patronizing to her.
When Rainbow Dash goes to the few remaining characters who don’t seem infected and slaps away the cookies, they claim she just wants to eat all the cookies for free, just so they can torment her. This episode is Rainbow Dash’s equivalent of Princess Spike: all she does is get tortured.
Applejack, Rarity, and the Crusaders join Rainbow Dash and lock themselves in a barn, and they do way too good of a job pretending to be scared. I thought Applejack was supposed to be bad at lying! Being the element of honesty doesn’t mean she never lies, but rather that when she lies, it’s begrudging and doesn’t sound convincing. The only explanation is that she rehearsed these lies for hours nonstop until she got the tone right.
When Rainbow Dash admits to her intended prank, the other five ponies in the room see this as the perfect point to give Rainbow Dash the maximum degree of torture. They get infected right when Rainbow Dash says “as long as nopony else eats the cookies”.
I’m going to assume Pinkie Pie changed everyone’s color palettes back by breaking the fourth wall.
And then comes the reveal. Rainbow Dash learns this was all a prank and is taught a patronizing friendship lesson about when to do pranks, which was already explained near the start of this episode. Everyone is being so smug, I can’t even begin to tolerate it. This is the resolution of The Mysterious Mare Do Well all over again. Is the implicit lesson supposed to be that if someone pranks you, you should prank them back? Obviously that’s not the lesson that the rest of the Mane 6 tell Rainbow Dash, but I can’t help but analyze episodes’ morals beyond what’s explicitly stated.
Fluttershy: Well, I hope you learned your lesson.
Rainbow Dash: Totally! You ponies pulled off an amazing prank! I’ll have to work extra hard to top it.
Rainbow Dash: Gotcha.
You could argue that Rainbow Dash’s statement that she needs to pull an even bigger prank was her even bigger prank. Everyone seemed to fall for it, and I guess this ending is supposed to be the kind of prank that’s OK to pull? Probably? The episode ends with dissonant, apocalyptic sounding credits music that represents how horrified I feel that I’m not done writing this episode review, because I have to write the…
It should be clear from this review that I absolutely hate this episode and can’t stand to watch it. So I’d like to ask this question: why on earth would anyone like this episode? One possible reason is if you have a juvenile sense of humor and watch this show for the scary scenes rather than the heartfelt moments. Another defense people have given this episode is that Rainbow Dash needs an extra clear live example to learn a friendship lesson because otherwise it won’t get through to her, which is a good point, but I don’t think that makes the episode a pleasant experience. A third reason is that if you really despise Rainbow Dash, you’ll get enjoyment out of seeing her suffer. While there are some people who enjoy or can tolerate this episode, I prefer not to think about it because I don’t want it to ruin my opinion on Rainbow Dash as a character.
This might be my least favorite episode of the entire show, worse than the last two I graded F, and only season 8 has any candidates for episodes I find more intolerable. We’ll see if I find them more painful to analyze.
- Some fans joke that Mr. Cake biting a brick inside his hayburger is why he never speaks again after this episode (though his last speaking scene was in The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows). Though I have to wonder how he didn’t notice that his burger was strangely heavy.
- Even Twinkleshine, who lives in Canterlot and is just visiting Ponyville, participates in the rainbow cookie prank, suggesting that even ponies outside of Ponyville were let in on the prank. That obviously wasn’t an intentional implication, but it certainly doesn’t improve my opinion on this episode.
Whew, we’re done! The next episode is thankfully not a complete trainwreck. Hopefully I won’t dread reviewing an episode this much again.
See you in two weeks as a changeling is portrayed positively for the first time in the show.