Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 37: Somepony to Watch Over Me + Maud Pie

Introduction

< Part 36 | Part 37 | Part 38 >

Season 4, Episodes 17-18


Season 4 Episode 17: Somepony to Watch Over Me

In five words: Apple Bloom struggles with trust.

Premise: Apple Bloom is left to watch over Sweet Apple Acres while the rest of her family is gone, but Applejack frustratingly won’t stop being overprotective. Apple Bloom thus sets out on her own to prove herself capable of being on her own.

Detailed run-through:

To start the episode, Apple Bloom and her fellow Cutie Mark Crusaders listen in on an unintelligible conversation between her immediate family, then Granny Smith breaks the good news: Apple Bloom has been deemed old enough to watch over Sweet Apple Acres on her own for the afternoon. Apple Bloom keeps up a serious image through this big decision, but as soon as she thinks her family can’t hear her, she and the other two Crusaders break into excitement. This scene establishes the episode as one focused on the difficulties of growing up and gaining your family’s trust, an experience that’s familiar to many viewers of the show. To younger viewers, this episode is likely to be immediately relatable; to older viewers, it’ll more likely bring back older memories, or maybe even remind them of their own children or younger family members.

While the other Apples prepare for their journey to deliver pies to some dangerous places, Applejack gives her sister a long, detailed list of chores and instructions to take care of. Here’s where I’ll address probably the most common criticism of this episode: Applejack being extremely overbearing.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 36: Twilight Time + It Ain’t Easy Being Breezies

Introduction

< Part 35 | Part 36 | Part 37 >

Season 4, Episodes 15-16

Looking at the lineup of season 4 episodes left for me to analyze, here are the ones that I’m the most excited to go through:

  • Episode 18, Maud Pie (because I think Maud Pie is awesome)
  • Episode 19, For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils (because I think Sweetie Belle is cool)
  • Episodes 25-26, Twilight’s Kingdom (the absolutely epic season finale)

The rest of the remaining season 4 episodes I’m not nearly as excited to go through; I’ll have fun with them for sure, but the really exciting ones are listed above. And then when I get through season 5, I am looking forward to analyzing pretty much every episode of the season. You can expect my season 5 reviews to be some of the most long-winded ones yet.


Season 4 Episode 15: Twilight Time

As with several other episodes involving the Cutie Mark Crusaders, this one contains spoilers for midway through season 5. Also a few for the season 4 finale. Plus a bit of early season 6.

In five words: Crusaders exploit Twilight’s big name.

Premise: The Cutie Mark Crusaders come to Twilight Sparkle to help them learn skills, but they get carried away in using Twilight’s princess status to their advantage.

Detailed run-through:

We haven’t been to Twilight’s place that often in season 4. It sort of feels nostalgic being in here now.
Also, I like how this scene teases the mystery of the chest with six keys.

This episode starts with the Cutie Mark Crusaders at Twilight Sparkle’s place practicing skills they want to learn: Sweetie Belle with magic, Scootaloo with assembling a unicycle, and Apple Bloom with brewing potions. Each of the Crusaders is at least partly hoping to get their cutie mark through these activities, and they’re all reluctant to read detailed instructions. I think there’s something interesting to analyze from each Cutie Mark Crusader’s choice of activity to learn.

For Sweetie Belle, I’m not sure what the common fan consensus is on how long it usually takes unicorns to learn magic, but my view is as follows. Unicorns typically learn magic through tons of practice, and Sweetie Belle never had much reason to use magic while growing up. But now that she’s getting older, she feels that it’s her duty as a unicorn to properly learn magic, and through enough determination, she admirably figures it out by the end of this episode.

But while Sweetie Belle’s motive is to rectify her lack of a fundamental unicorn skill, the other two Crusaders are pursuing activities that relate more to their usual interests. Scootaloo wants to branch out her interest in athletic stunts by assembling vehicles on her own, while Apple Bloom, the one who perpetually flits between various interests, wants to hone in her potion-making interest a little more.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 33: Pinkie Apple Pie + Rainbow Falls

Introduction

< Part 32 | Part 33 | Part 34 >

Season 4, Episodes 9-10

I may as well say here that since writing my review of Rarity Takes Manehattan which came out last week, I have kind of maybe gotten obsessed with Coco Pommel and how adorable she is. She hits a sweet spot of character cuteness by being meek and cutesy but not a full-out exaggerated smushy baby. After so many years, I finally know what it’s like to fixate on a minor character in MLP, like so many fans are prone to do. Maybe it’s weird for me to say, but I think part of the charm of this show is that every character, no matter how minor or trivial, has some set of fans out there who think they’re the coolest thing ever. Slice of Life a season from now is a celebration of that fact, and I plan on going as hard as I possibly can when reviewing it.


Season 4 Episode 9: Pinkie Apple Pie

In five words: Genetic relationship cemented as ambiguous.

Premise: Pinkie Pie discovers evidence that she may be distantly related to Applejack, and she sets out on a journey with Applejack’s family to discover if she really is.

Detailed run-through:

You know what I find incredibly satisfying? When the very first scene of a MLP episode has something I can pick apart in depth, so that I don’t need to start with some empty fluff. This episode is a good example thereof.

Pinkie Pie: Whatcha doin’?
Twilight Sparkle: AAA!
Pinkie Pie: “AAA!” yourself! But that doesn’t answer my question, silly.
Twilight Sparkle: Just some genealogical research.
Pinkie Pie: Ohhhhh. (falls out of bookcase)
Pinkie Pie: (whispers to Spike) I don’t know what that is.
Spike: Genealogy is the study of family history! You know, where ponies come from, and who they’re related to.

While Rarity Takes Manehattan is one of the most adult-oriented episodes so far, by which I mean one more easily digestible for adults than for children, this one feels like a blast from the past with the strong amounts of slapstick humor and Pinkie Pie not knowing what a complex word means, leading Spike to explain it as though this were an educational TV series. By which I mean a show that was always unambiguously educational and didn’t just have an educational mandate of some sorts marked by an “e/i” symbol that was dropped after season 1. Not that this is a bad thing at all—it’s nice for MLP to vary the pace with its episodes.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 31: Flight to the Finish + Power Ponies

Introduction

< Part 30 | Part 31 | Part 32 >

Season 4, Episodes 5-6


Season 4 Episode 5: Flight to the Finish

In five words: Bullying gets better of Scootaloo.

Premise: The Cutie Mark Crusaders prepare an opening routine for the Equestria Games, but when Diamond Tiara mocks Scootaloo for her inability to fly, they’re discouraged from going further.

Detailed run-through:

Been a while since we last were at the Cutie Mark Crusaders’ school.

To start this episode, Cheerilee brings two special guests to the class she teaches: Ms. Harshwhinny and Rainbow Dash. They announce that the kids may get to take a part in the Equestria Games, specifically through a competition where they each need to come up with a flag-carrying routine, and the winning team gets to perform it in the games. This is the point where I remember that the Equestria Games are the other overarching plot of season 4—the one that doesn’t involve finding the keys for the mysterious chest, that is. But those plots do intersect in Rainbow Falls, which is a few episodes from now.

Ms. Harshwhinny and Rainbow Dash play off each other in fun ways as they explain the rules of the opening routine. Ms. Harshwhinny insists on keeping a reserved, professional attitude, while Rainbow Dash can’t control her excitement and brags about the time she carried the flag as a filly, which Scootaloo of course swoons over. When Ms. Harshwhinny mentions that Rainbow Dash will accompany the winning team to the Crystal Empire, the Crusaders’ faces light up one by one. To them, this is their chance to see the place they got a taste of when Spike wrangled them up in babysitting antics! And opportunities to go such places don’t come easy for them, being fillies and all.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 25: Wonderbolts Academy + Apple Family Reunion

Introduction

< Part 24 | Part 25 | Part 26 >

Season 3, Episodes 7-8


Season 3 Episode 7: Wonderbolts Academy

This review has spoilers discussing the various villains who get redemption arcs; one who gets reformed only a few episodes from now, and several who don’t get reformed until season 5.

In five words: Rainbow Dash’s friend becomes rival.

Premise: Rainbow Dash gets accepted to the Wonderbolts’ training camp and meets a pegasus who matches her evenly… or so it seems at first.

Detailed run-through:

I love how Twilight Sparkle’s friends are right there, and yet she’s still reading a book.

I think I’m noticing a pattern here. If an episode starts with the Mane 6 having a picnic (as is the case here), it’s soon to be followed by a letter announcing something huge. This time, Pinkie Pie is bouncing like crazy and waiting for the letter to come. Yes, for whatever reason, Pinkie Pie is more nervous about the letter than Rainbow Dash is, even though the letter concerns the latter and determines whether she will get into the Wonderbolts. Rainbow Dash being confident she’ll get in makes total sense, but Pinkie Pie’s nervousness is harder to decipher. Perhaps this is an indication that she cares about her friends’ happiness to degrees more extreme than she usually lets on? Or maybe Pinkie just plays a gag role throughout this episode.

Rainbow Dash reveals she got into the Wonderbolts’ training camp in the most Rainbow Dash way possible. She puts on a convincing act of disappointment while saying she didn’t get in, then says “gotcha”. She is a very skilled prankster and knows herself well enough to fool her friends, much like how she often puts on an act of confidence to downplay her fears. However, in this scene she was always confident she would get in the camp.

Continuing her exaggerated role, Pinkie Pie gives Rainbow Dash an absurdly tight and long hug, then screams “don’t forget to write” through a megaphone at the top of her lungs. I can’t decide if it’s a better idea to appreciate the gags for what they are or try to gather serious implications about Pinkie Pie’s character.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 23: Too Many Pinkie Pies + One Bad Apple

Introduction

< Part 22 | Part 23 | Part 24 >

Season 3, Episodes 3-4


Season 3 Episode 3: Too Many Pinkie Pies

In five words: Pinkie’s cloning attempt wreaks havoc.

Premise: Faced with the problem that she can’t spend time with all her friends at once, Pinkie Pie finds a way to make more of herself. This very quickly gets out of hand.

Detailed run-through:

This episode starts with Twilight Sparkle practicing magic, only to be interrupted by a surprise hug from Pinkie Pie. This is yet another scene that I feel indicates these two have a somewhat lopsided friendship. Plenty of times, Pinkie gets on Twilight’s nerves with her zany antics, and their testy dynamic prevails all the way to season 9 in A Trivial Pursuit, but I’m getting way ahead of myself.

Pinkie Pie is bubbling up with her extreme hyperactive energy and didn’t let much of it out in her hug with Twilight. She’s like a bottle of soda that has been shaken up, ready to explode with carbonation when opened, and as such her behavior is more insane than usual. When she sees Rarity made a new fancy dress without having Pinkie Pie around, she panics like crazy about missing out on all her friends’ fun times.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 20: Hurricane Fluttershy + Ponyville Confidential + MMMystery on the Friendship Express

Introduction

< Part 19 | Part 20 | Part 21 >

Season 2, Episodes 22-24

The last six episodes, Read It and Weep through Dragon Quest, all got pretty enormous and detailed reviews. I think I’m ready to go a little lighter with the next three episodes, since those don’t stick out to me nearly as much. Also, 20 posts is a nice milestone! A bit of a modest one though, compared to certain other projects of mine.

By the way, my plan is to finish writing the reviews for all of season 2 by the end of this year, then take a break from writing MLP posts until the new year begins. I have plenty of other things I want to get done before 2021 ends! It’s been a real doozy of a year for me, both in real life and with my personal projects. Perhaps the biggest doozy of any year in my entire life.


Season 2 Episode 22: Hurricane Fluttershy

In five words: Fluttershy gradually conquers childhood trauma.

Premise: Rainbow Dash wants all the pegasi of Ponyville to make a record-breaking tornado to provide Cloudsdale with a fresh new water supply, but due to past traumatic experiences, Fluttershy is reluctant to participate.

Detailed run-through:

This episode starts with Rainbow Dash admirably demonstrating how dutiful of a pegasus she is. She sends a bunch of letters to all the pegasi of Ponyville, gathering them for an important meeting at the Golden Oak Library. As much as she likes bragging about her own feats, she’s also a great team player, which matches with loyalty as her element of harmony. Fluttershy, on the other hand, is incredibly reluctant to join the meeting and tries to sneak away so she won’t have to join.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 17: Read It and Weep + Hearts and Hooves Day

Introduction

< Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 >

Season 2, Episodes 16-17


Season 2 Episode 16: Read It and Weep

This review contains spoilers for season 4, but only in the overall thoughts section. Still coloring the title red to signify as much.

In five words: Allegory for becoming a brony.

Premise: At the hospital, Rainbow Dash finds herself captivated in a book that she had aggressively waved off, but she refuses to admit it to any of her friends. Does this sound familiar???

Detailed run-through:

Warning you now: this review will be more than a little self-indulgent because the entire episode reminds me of how I became a brony. It’ll be one of my reviews where the detailed run-through is extra super detailed.

Imagine what it’s like watching this episode for the first time, unaware of what it’s about. Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity watch Rainbow Dash perform stunts in the sky, until she gets out of control and injures herself. We don’t see the injury, but rather hear sound effects and reactions from the ponies shown above, loosely indicating that it’s not something good. This cleverly leads up to the dire circumstances that cause Rainbow Dash to become the in-universe equivalent of a brony.

For a pony as action-oriented as Rainbow Dash, a hospital may as well be a prison. She’s forced to stay there for a few days, and she is incredibly unhappy about it. Rainbow Dash’s imminent obsession with Daring Do comes about through circumstances that would be dire and grueling specifically for her—circumstances that cause her to reach the absolute peak of boredom. This episode is much like a story that takes place in prison, except more kid-friendly. Then again, people often use “prison” as a figure of speech anyway.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 15: Secret of My Excess + Hearth’s Warming Eve + Family Appreciation Day

Introduction

< Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 >

Season 2, Episodes 10-12

I didn’t get this post done in time a week ago, so I decided to push it back a week (plus a few hours), making this the first time my MLP posts skipped a week. This may happen sometimes as I prioritize finishing my Homestuck posts (only twelve left!) over making my MLP posts. The good news is, once I finish my Homestuck post series, I never have to think about Homestuck again!!!

Posts about a different work of media aside, we’re now at the first of several points where the episode numbering of my MLP review posts might get a little confusing, because the release order differs from the production order. In this case, Hearth’s Warming Eve was moved ahead a few slots to be released around Christmas. I’ve decided to do these posts in release order, because that’s what most unofficial mirrors of the show do, and I must admit I’ve been using those to watch the show. An advantage of this order is that the season 3 episodes “Just for Sidekicks” and “Games Ponies Play”, which take place at the same time, are side by side.

With those little clarifications out of the way, let’s begin!


Season 2 Episode 10: Secret of My Excess

In five words: Spike’s dragon greed causes havoc.

Premise: As he gets lots of birthday presents, Spike gets carried away with greed and turns into a ferocious, gigantic dragon. (Er, not to imply he wasn’t previously a dragon.)

Detailed run-through:

As previously promised, I’m going to compare Spike’s and Rainbow Dash’s episodes before I start this run-through. Both these characters have personality traits in common, specifically high self-image and tendency to embarrass themselves. Rainbow Dash’s episodes are a frequent source of second-hand embarrassment for me, but when Spike gets up to antics with questionable morality, I more often think, “come on, you’re better than this”. I’m not sure where that difference comes from; both characters in their episodes tend to have personality traits exaggerated or contrived. Maybe it’s because Spike’s personality isn’t portrayed quite as consistently as Rainbow Dash’s? It takes quite a long time—until season 6, I’d say—for the show to start being kinder to Spike, making his episodes before then a bit of a mess. This is easily one of the more tolerable ones, but then you have “uh, what?” episodes like Spike at Your Service. Although I’m generally defendant of Spike’s character, I won’t deny that his episodes tend to be weird.

This beginning of this episode tells us that this is going to be another one of those episodes focused on Spike’s self-admiration. Spike walks in on Twilight Sparkle reshelving her books and holds a fire ruby gem that is supposedly his birthday present to himself. Spike’s self-image is either endearing or obnoxious depending on the circumstances, and in this episode it’s the pivot of the friendship lesson, so it’s naturally going to be a little obnoxious.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 13: Sisterhooves Social + The Cutie Pox + May the Best Pet Win!

Introduction

< Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 >

Season 2, Episodes 5-7


Season 2 Episode 5: Sisterhooves Social

In five words: Sibling frustration reaches breaking point.

Premise: When Sweetie Belle asks Rarity to go with her to the [insert episode’s title here], Rarity refuses and Sweetie Belle decides she wants to be Applejack’s sister instead.

Detailed run-through:

This episode begins with a scene that perfectly demonstrates the premise of its first half: Sweetie Belle clumsily attempting to do nice things for her big sister. To start off, Rarity waves up from pleasant food dreams to the smell of smoke, which leads her to see Sweetie Belle about to prepare breakfast in bed for her. Sweetie Belle starts this show as well-meaning but clumsy and not very good at anything; among the three Cutie Mark Crusaders, I’d say she has the strongest character development as the show progresses. But then again, she’s my favorite of the Crusaders in general.

Rarity’s parents make their first (and only voiced) appearance in this episode, and all I can think about is how unlike every other member of the Mane 6, Rarity didn’t get an episode going in depth on her relationship with her parents. We just know them as parents who embarrass their elder daughter regularly and have far lower standards for food than her, while seeming to get along perfectly well with their younger daughter. They’re supposed to be Sweetie Belle’s regular caretakers until Rarity basically supersedes that role, meaning we don’t even get more scenes of Sweetie Belle interacting with their parents. Rarity’s parents just say they’re going on vacation for a week, leaving Sweetie Belle to stay with Rarity, and that’s all we hear from them.

Rarity having a “parent episode” so to speak would have been GLORIOUS! And yet, she just… didn’t get one, I guess. Ah well, not everything is perfect. The blueprint for a potential Rarity parent episode is there though, with an uptight elder daughter and ridiculously laid-back parents. I’m sure fans have written decent stories of their own about Rarity’s relationship with her parents. Or Sweetie Belle’s relationship with her parents, for that matter.

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