Well, something crazy has happened.
As I've been going back through these episodes, I've been unconsciously noticing more and more things about them. Lots of little things that catch my eye, poignant things, important details, hilarious silly things, all that good stuff. I'm remembering more of what I like, and more of what drives me absolutely insane. I don't know if the episodes got more complex as time went on, if I'm loosening up, or if my real pony fandom side is coming to the forefront or what. All I know is that I've been developing an amount of commentary to match.
So from here on in, we're just going to dive right into episode talk, because I'm going to have lots to say in every single post, to the point where I also have to cut down the number of episodes covered in these posts from 10 to 5-6. Don't worry, it only stretches this blog series by about two posts, and if the notes I currently have down are any indication, they'll all be far more detailed and fulfilling reading!
Ready, then? All right, MISSION START!
Hearth's Warming Eve
...um. Oh dear. Oh my.
This is a great episode and all, but I'm a little scared. You see, this is the very first episode that reawakened my romance gene. You know, the one I forever try to suppress to the great frustration of many of my readers? I was all over Clover/Platinum like white on rice. Pretty sure I still am.
(gulps) Welp, once more unto the breach.
- I've only just now noticed this, but Pinkie? It's got to be really tiring to always bounce everywhere instead of walking.
- So there are some interesting rock-paper-scissors mechanics going on between the tribes. Let's break this down:
Earth ponies provide food for all three tribes. Without them, the other two tribes don't eat.
Unicorns bring forth the day and the night. Without them, earth ponies can't do their thing, and... well, the pegasi's job would be at least a little harder.
Pegasi control the weather. Without them, the other two tribes could suffer any one of several possible natural disasters.
It's hardly a symmetrical balance, but it doesn't look like anything in the system is outright broken. Anyway, just something that popped into my head. Sorry, I work in games, it's my thing.
- "Clover The Clever! I need you!" ...nononononobookishstopitstopitstopit
- I... I don't know if Chancellor Puddinghead is better than Pinkie, worse than Pinkie, or simply Pinkie distilled into her purest form. What I do know is that she scares me.
- She and AJ!Cookie have great banter and frictive chemistry, though. Why don't we ever see these two together more often?
- I have no opinion on the pegasi at all. Wait, no, that's wrong. I want to see Dash and Shy in a 300 parody.
- You know, Clover/Cookie would work pretty well too AARRRGH DAMN THIS EPISODE
- "And now our bodies will become as cold as our hearts... all because we were foolish enough to hate." And that's why this show is special.
- Oh, nuts to it. They're all great together.
Guys, I think I have a new favorite episode. I can't think of anything wrong with it. At all. I don't have to suspend any disbelief, and the lesson and symbolism are impeccable. There are episodes which connect with me more, and probably ones I'd show to newbies before this, but I'd definitely show this one second. It's utterly amazing.
Even if it makes me ship uncontrollably.
Family Appreciation Day
Good episode. Good backstory. Loved the world-building. Also good on this ep for showing that Silver Spoon actually has a working heart and mind as opposed to just being Diamond Tiara's puppet.
But wow I remember this episode throwing the mathematician in me into an outright tizzy. Because if Winter Wrap Up was performed in Ponyville for hundreds of years, then just how old is Granny Smith anyway? (Of course this episode could just be a giant retcon, but that'd be too easy.)
- I'm not sure if Diamond's actually talking to Apple Bloom or trolling the whole time.
- ...yep. Definitely trolling.
- HA! Callback to the dictionary joke. I like it.
- ...I like to think that during Granny Smith's pre-harvest lining-up of all the zap-apple jam jars, Spitfire is watching somewhere not-too-far yet out of sight and...
-...you know what, some jokes even I just don't have the heart to follow through on
- Scootaloo, you are many things. You are adorable. You are an equine outboard motor. You are far more capable than this fandom and even your creator wish you were. But do you know what you're not? A BOTANIST.
- Epiphany! I just realized: I'm perfectly okay with the CMCs getting into silly schemes. It's what they do, and it's good for them. Apparently I only end up rolling my eyes if the reasoning behind it is GOTTA GET THAT CUTIE MARK. Good to know.
- ALL HAIL PRINCESS CELESTIA
BIGGEST PLAYER IN EQUESTRIA
- Sorry, Deets. I dislike you less than your average fan but you really had this one coming.
Another excellent episode overall. I'm actually surprised at just how consistently Season 2 is just knocking it out of the park. It's almost as if this show got better as time went along. But that'd be silly.
Wasn't sure what to make of this one when it aired. In fact, I don't remember what I thought. Not only is this a Pinkie episode, but "wacky babysitting" is a stock plot that's as old as both time and sin. I think I repressed it.
You know what? Let's just do this.
- Wait, that's Nurse Redheart? She is heartstoppingly cute! Looks like I finally have a reason to buy the Cake Family 5-pack!
- Hang on... do we know the vet mare's name from Secret of My Excess? 'Cause I totally want to do a fic with these two together now
- "I have to finish this report to the Princess summarizing all my other reports to the Princess." Twilight, marry me.
/contemplating leaving small children in the care of Rainbow Dash
- The Cakes are one hell of a husband and wife couple. I really like how well they work together. In multiple senses of the word.
- Pinkie doing stand up-comedy. They heard me. Since the beginning of the series I have always wanted this scene, and they heard me.
- The only thing that could be better would be to see her ironically bomb on sta-oh thank you, Charlotte.
- OH GOD DO YOU MEAN TO TELL ME NON-UNICORNS HAVE TO CHANGE THEIR FOALS' DIAPERS WITH THEIR MOUTHS OH THAT IS JUST THE WORST
- Oooh! Here comes Twilight Sparkle to save the episoI mean Pinkie!
- I was going to joke that she should have a bunch of books on the subject, but she helped raised Spike from infancy and had one of the best babysitters in Equestria. She'd actually be legit hereNOPINKIEWHATAREYOUDOINGDONOTPICKTHISTIMETOBEOFFENDED
- (sigh) Oh, Twilight. Unable to detect sarcasm. Just like me.
- ...aaaaaaaand suddenly this turned surreal. As an aside: poor Scootaloo. Outdone by an infant. He even does her outboard motor schtick better!
- And that whole ending sequence is almost mercenary in how it goes for your heartstrings. As a heart-ninja I wasn't phased, but I can only imagine what would happen to those untrained in the art of emotional manipulation!
All of my yes.
I remember my reaction the first time I watched this episode now. My words were, and I quote, "what in the hell happened? This was a Pinkie Pie episode, and yet I enjoyed myself? I think someone broke the show!"
Seriously, after repeated episodes where she's being either spastic or made to constantly push Misunderstanding Plots(tm), we get an honest-to-goodness episode that shows the breadth of her character for the first time since Swarm of the Century. Pinkie's really matured here, and I'm proud of her. A bit more wisdom, age and endurance and I think she'd make a rather excellent mother.
(looks at Gummy)
...nah. Not yet. I believe in flukes, too.
The Last Roundup
OH WOW OH THANK GOODNESS DERPY'S FINALLY A CHARACTER MAYBE NOW I CAN ACTUALLY WRITE ABOU--...what's that? ...oh.
Well. That's a shame. I really would have liked to have the tiniest bit of canon characterization to go on.
The less I remember about the drama surrounding this ep when it first aired, the better. Hell, I was on the outside of -- "Derpygate," was it? -- and the loudest voices were still head-slappingly stupid on both sides. Even without that craziness, I vaguely remember this episode making me dizzy, but for the life of me, I couldn't remember why...
- YEEEEE-HAW! STARTIN' OUT WITH GOOD OL' APPLE FAMILY AWESOME.
- Yeah, it's a shame they took the Derpy reference out. Have I ever told you good people how I feel about the Internet giving anyone and everyone a voice? 90% of the time, it's pretty great. And then you have things like Xbox Live and The Last Roundup.
- That said, I don't know which Derpy voice I like better. They're both really good. I'd've been okay with either.
- I still have to strain to handle Pinkie's... upbeatness, but by now I have to admit it's a personal problem. I like how she's always, always aiming to be a mood-lightener and AWWW PINKIE WITH THE CAKE SLICE THAT WAS SWEET
(watches more episode)
- ...that... is the most ominous cut to commercial I've ever witnessed in my life. I wonder wh-
The Pinkie has been weaponized.
I can't no seriously I can't
- Ohhhhhhh my gosh. Applejack lied (again, folks) and broke a Pinkie Promise in the process. This isn't going to end well. I can only imagine the consequen-wow.
- Huh. High speed coach chase with AJ acting like a gangster on the run. You know, somewhere along the way, I think we lost the plot. I think it was just before we launched into hyperspace. Yeah.
I... um... well.
Congratulations, Applejack. You may not have won any first place ribbons, but you've hands-down won the honor of dumbest episode in the series.
Seriously, what was that? What did I just watch? I don't know whether to be angry at this or to bash my head into a nearby wall while high on laughing gas. I can understand AJ being wary about going home second-place and empty-handed, but to have this much of a complex? Lady, you make me and Twilight look sane. I take everything back I've ever said about you being the only sane one of the Mane Six. You're all crazy now.
And to top it all off? I can't believe some people had the audacity to bitch about The Mysterious Mare Do-Well! The audacity! You think Dash got put through psychological torture?
THIS IS THE TRUE FACE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL TORTURE XDDD
...I'm only half jesting, mind you. Pinkie was actually by far the best part of this episode. She was used inventively and to great effect. Seriously, this supposed AJ focus episode wasn't stolen by Derpy at all. Pinkie Italian Jobbed this sucker.
But... yeah, this episode as a whole was just too much for me, and not in a good way. Oh gosh, too much. The comedy was quality, but uncontrolled. Like Amy Rogers tried to channel Dave Polsky but didn't have his sense of restraint. I'm not sure whether I like this episode or not. It's so goddamn all over the place. I hereby award it an Incomplete.
You'll notice Twilight didn't have much of a role in this episode. This is what happens when she doesn't.
I think I need to lie down. I know there's only one to go but in my present state of mind I just can't. We'll finish this off tomorrow.
Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000
Okay. I'm rested and have last episode's nonsense out of my mind. Mostly. oh god chimichangas Not sure if I'm ready for another AJ episode so soon, but the show must go on!
Actually this episode downright confused me the first time around. Like, I enjoyed the Apple Family's triumph over shysters and everything but all the plot points left me scratching my head when it was over. Perhaps now I can untangle things?
- New story idea: Rainbow Dash vs. Black Friday. THIS TIME, SPEED WON'T BE ENOUGH.
(Twilight, of course, simply uses Cyber Monday like a smart mare. ~_^)
- CHEERILEE YOU DIDN'T WAIT FOR ME ;_; (/spoilers for the future)
- Actually, if I can clear the air about something no one ever asked for? I'm aware of the whole cider thing and about AJ's name and all, but I'm not really much for substances like alcohol or cigarettes or drugs (unless you've managed to adapt it to a happy/sinister Equestrian variety~) in my pony. Another personal taste thing, but if I see the girls going for drinks or something, that's seriously a fast track to me closing your fic.* I know, it's not fair, but it's just another one of those things I can't help, y'know?
*And Cadance help you if you're using alcohol to power a romance/clop... oh, you can't see me glowering at you over the Internet, but believe me I am
- Pinkie, no. Stop rubbing it in. You bought like twelve mugs. If you weren't so gluttonous, this episode wouldn't have a first act. Also, Flim and Flam just saved your life.
- Wow, that song. I... I don't know why it's so infectious. It just is. And it's an extremely relevant -- and chilling -- "march of progress" commentary to boot. Look at Granny Smith's reaction the second she tries Flim and Flam's cider sample. Worth a thousand words.
/allowing a preteen filly to make business decisions
- And the part of Marty McFly will be played by Granny Smith. (Scootaloo wasn't working out.)
- AJ and AB doing bucking-training. SO CUTE.
- Time Turner being the timekeeper for the cider competition -- GENIUS.
- Hey, look, AJ remembered the lessons of Applebuck Season. This warms me more than words can say.
- See what happens when Twilight gets involved in an episode? It gets better!
- Uh, wait. Why are you preparing to leave the farm? The prize was the ability to sell cider in ponyville, not the whole kit n' kaboodle.
- EVEN THE (non-)FRIENDSHIP LESSON IS A CALLBACK. ALL BASES: COVERED.
Top-notch episode. As an old-schooler in many things, I'm quite glad to see old-school sensibilities such as quality over quantity winning the day. As a math lover with an economist in the family, I also absolutely love this Kids' Course In Economics 101. Finally, ultra-appreciate AJ not being an idiot. I'm just going to go ahead and assume that last episode was an alternate universe. Two of them, actually. One for each Derpy voice.
But let's talk about something bigger here. Folks, what what we have here is actually a rarity for Friendship is Magic: Flim and Flam are arguably this show's only fully realized antagonists. Seriously, they come in, their motivations make sense and are easy to relate to($$$), their abilities and MO are sound (power of persuasion, and a combination of unicorn magic and technology used to sinister ends), they have character and personality, and it takes actual work and tactics to defeat them instead of an eye-rolling deus ex machina.
I can't think of any other antagonist in this show who comes close. Certainly none of the Big Bads do. Granted, part of their effectiveness is due to the Idiot Ball being handed to all of Ponyville, but they kind of did half that job themselves with that song and their fast-talking. That's no small feat. The only other ones who can hold a candle to the above criteria are Trixie and to a lesser extent, Lightning Dust. Flim & Flam are their own arc contained in a single episode, and their exit leaves more that can be done with them. Their only downside is their design, so, y'know, no cute fanar-
I... okay. This may be the only time I ever condone this but I will gladly welcome Rule 63 Flim Flam Sisters fanart. But only because this is an emergency.
Though you know... okay. Showdown competition for dramatic purposes, sure. Kids' show. But I really wish things had gone the traditional way. The way economics goes is how the Bros first mentioned it -- make them competitors and let the market sort out whose cider they want, and when. And yeah, that means the FFB would have had to get their own apples. That's on them. If they weren't such sly talkers, we'd have no episode. Fortunately, the progression of events is believable, especially given that Granny Smith's generation founded, like, everything, and they hit her one supreme hot button enough to impair her judgment.
I'd love to see them come back, though you certainly couldn't have them show up lock stock and cider barrel in Ponyville again. We'd need a different venue, or some kind of mail-order service where you wouldn't know it's them until it's almost too late.
So outside of one episode made of Ijustdontknowwhatthellwentwrong, MLP continues to bring the awesome! If there's one thing that's changing, I think, it's a shift away from "idyllic happiness" to "outlandish situations." While I'm willing to accept and respect it as proof of the versatility of this show... I'm not going to lie, I like my MLP in the former fashion by a country mile, and that's not going to change.
Right, then. When reflecting on this show, I'll just have to concentrate more on episodes like Hearth's Warming and Read It and Weep... and less on ones like The One(s) We Won't Mention. However, I know where this show goes from here. Staying light and fluffy is going to get at least a little tougher...
Thanks for reading, and join us next time!~Bookish