Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Picking Apart "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", Season 1 Episode 9

I've had generally mixed feelings about this series so far what with my personal ratings going up and down as the episodes progress, but I have to be honest about one thing that remains consistent and what I feel keeps this series alive.  And that, as you might as guessed is its stellar animation.  I know animation is generally not what the average audience tends to look for, but when I mention it, I think I speak for all young adults as well as art school students, mainly because we belong in the category that sees media differently than the way we used to when we were kids.  And the funny thing about that is when we look back at the stuff we used to see as kids, more and more we start to see it differently, regardless if we attended art school or not.  Now this series may be new to me, having started in 2010 and my brother just getting into it at the turn of the summer season, but already I amaze myself being able to pick apart just about anything that would make this series not so hot.  Regardless of what I find however, the animation will always and forevermore stay on top.  Just make it any kind of anime-style, or even 2D in general, and I might be a sucker for it.

Bridle Gossip
But enough about me.  Let's get on with this episode.  I like how we almost immediately get to the plot of the episode wasting little to no time.  Just look.  Within less than a minute, we see that none of the denizens are out and about.  They're just hiding in their homes as if a bull was turned loose in a China shop.  And about 45 seconds in, Pinkie Pie is urging Twilight to get indoors as well.  We find that the apparent reason for this weirdness is because there's a zebra in town.

Okaaay, so we've got an animal who isn't a pony, Pegasus or even a unicorn.  But... is that bad?  So, what's this lady's name anyway?

Apple Bloom: Did you see... Zecora?

Zecora, hm?  Nope, never heard of her.  Now, what's all this?  Why are the main characters afraid of her?  Why is everyone in Ponyville afraid of her?  Is it because she's a zebra?  Well, doesn't that bring racism into this show?

Rarity: Just look at those stripes! So garish!
Twilight Sparkle: A zebra, and her stripes aren't a fashion choice Rarity, they're what she was born with.

Gee, the writers must have some kind of audacity streak going to try to sneak racism into a kids' show.

Applejack: That's just it, she lives in... the Everfree Forest!
Fluttershy: Animals care for themselves...

Like... what?!  What the hell, Fluttershy?!  Animals are supposed to take care of themselves!  I don't care if you are a caretaker!  Isn't that what everyone in Equestria is doing because they're animals as well?  Quit being an airhead!  Okay, back to Zecora and the subject of racism, which I despise.

Pinkie Pie: And that wicked enchantress Zecora lives there doing her evil...stuff!

Oh wait, scratch that.  Everyone in Ponyville thinks she's an enchantress?  Gimme a break, this is actually worse than racism.  What makes these giddy animals believe that?

Pinkie Pie: Why she's so evil I even wrote a song about her!

Oh no...

[Pinkie Pie]
She's an evil enchantress
She does evil dances
And if you look deep in her eyes
She'll put you in trances
Then what will she do?
She'll mix up an evil brew
Then she'll gobble you up
In a big tasty stew
Soooo.... Watch out!
Well, fortunately, Twilight Sparkle remains skeptic about Zecora being totally evil (thank you) and asks everyone else what we would have expected, which is pretty much what Spike asked Snips and Snails about Trixie in Episode 6, which is if anyone's actually seen Zecora do these so-called strange things.  But it turns out Twilight isn't the only one who's skeptic.

Apple Bloom: Maybe she's just tryin' to be neighborly.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  Apple Bloom returns in this episode.  It turns out she's skeptic about Zecora as well, but of course Applejack will hear none of it.  Okay, look, it's bad enough that the series spiraled out of control because of Trixie with her repetitiveness and suckering in everyone who was gullible into believing her lies, but now this very similar issue of just assuming things returns in this episode and it's a complete pain in the neck to listen to.

Rainbow Dash: W..what about digging at the ground? You've got to admit that's weird.

I don't believe this.  Zebras dig at the ground to find water, you idiot!  This may be a kids' show, but these animals are doing animal things!  Geez, this episode is going downhill already.

Well, Apple Bloom has just about had enough (I would) and decides to take the liberty of marching right up to Zecora and learning what she can about her.  Of course, none of the main characters even see her walk off because they're too busy arguing about racism and false accusations.  Well, that's their problem.  Eventually, they notice she's missing and find her on the outskirts of the Everfree Forest moments before she's about to talk to Zecora.  Spoilsports.  And that's when Zecora speaks for the first time, saying:

Zecora: Beware! Beware, you pony folk! Those leaves of blue are not a joke!

Did she just speak... in rhyme?  Okay, what else does she have to say?

Zecora: Mmm! The perfect temperature for ponies, I presume. Now, where is that little Apple Bloom?

Zecora: No! You know not what you've do! You've gone and spilled my precious brew!

Zecora: You destroy my home, destroy my work. Then rudely accuse me of being a jerk?

Zecora: It is unwise to venture down this road. Your actions will make my anger explode!

Zecora: If you will remember back, the words I spoke were quite exact.

Zecora: That plant is much like poison oak. But its results are like a joke.

Zecora: It means this plant does not breed wrath. Instead this plant just wants a laugh.

Zecora: Treasures of the native land where I am from. This one speaks 'hello', and this 'welcome'.

Zecora: The words I chanted were from olden times. Something you call a nursery rhyme.

Zecora: Here is the book you see. Sad that you lack it in your library.

Zecora: Maybe next time you will take a second look, and not judge the cover of the book.

Zecora: Mix it up I certainly will. Yet I am missing an herb from Ponyville.

Yep.  She speaks in rhyme quite a lot alright.  You know, I'm no stranger to this kind of dialogue.  Now, what other fictional character do I know that also speaks in rhyme?
Yeah, that's what I thought.

"You know, speaking in rhyme can get real old, so I'm surprised you're not doing any of your famous antagonizing here."

Oh, do shut up, the Chazz.  It's not that bad.

Well, back to the episode.  So Zecora gives the main characters fair warning about these blue plants called poison joke, and of course they don't listen to a word she says, each of them coming into contact with the poison joke, save Apple Bloom.
Boy, are they gonna be sorry.

So next morning, we find out exactly what happens to the main characters as a result of touching the poison joke.

Twilight's horn is flopping around and coated with blue spots, Pinkie Pie's tongue is stuck out of her mouth, also coated in blue spots, Rainbow Dash's wings got shifted to the lower end of her body, Rarity's whole body is a mess, Applejack has been miniaturized, and Fluttershy appears to be normal, but...
Fluttershy: I don't want to talk about it.

Woah-ho, masculine!  This totally reminds me of the Phineas and Ferb episode "Jerk de Soleil" and also in the first movie, "Across the Second Dimension", where we hear Candace's allergy-affected voice, which was graciously provided by Dan Povenmire, co-creator of the show.

Spike: We got: Hair-ity, Rainbow Crash, Spitty Pie, Apple Teeny, Flutterguy...

Spike: Twilight Flopple!

"Now, am I getting the impression that these guys just waltzed right into the library?  Don't they ever hear of knocking?  And why couldn't that Rainbow Crash just walk?"

So Apple Bloom, remaining skeptical, goes on ahead to find Zecora in search of a cure.  By the time the others catch up and arrive at Zecora's house, she's not there.  They don't know this yet, but Zecora had actually sent her out to run an errand, but from the looks of Zecora's place, even Twilight comes to the conclusion that Zecora might just be wicked after all.  Good lord.  For once, Twilight has lost her senses.  And on top of this, Pinkie Pie all but forces Fluttershy to sing a reprise of the same song we heard earlier.

She's an evil enchantress
She does evil dances
And if you look deep in her eyes
She'll put you in trances
Then what will she do?
She'll mix up an evil brew
Then she'll gobble you up
In a big tasty stew
Soooo.... Watch out!
Well, that could have gone worse.  For those of you who did see "Jerk de Soleil", we shouldn't find this too bizarre, really.  I certainly don't, and Candace's allergy-affected singing voice was actually worth listening to.

So they confront Zecora, but then Apple Bloom comes back and helps clear up the matter.  It turns out that Twilight had the answers to their problems the whole time, but she had overlooked the book Spike picked out because knowing Twilight, she doesn't give supernaturals even a sideways glance.
Zecora and Apple Bloom fix up a spa bath and cure Twilight and her friends and the friendship lesson learned is one of the best in the whole series, to not judge a book by its cover.

Best.  Lesson.  Ever.  So in spite of the episode being mostly headache-inducing what with Ponyville denizens jumping the gun about Zecora the stranger, it all turns out well and the lesson learned almost makes up for it.  And after these events, Zecora now freely interacts with everyone in town.  Now I recall that in the first Shrek film, Shrek is secretly depressed and lives his life alone because people are judgmental towards him, not that I blame him.  In fact, people being judgmental towards me is one of my biggest pet peeves ever.  I still face this problem today and it bugs the living hell out of me.  Now I know I make mistakes and say things I shouldn't, but it's because I am a human being.  So if I antagonize something, it is because I am speaking my mind from my own personal opinion, and I should not have to be judged because of it.  Remember this little friendship lesson well, folks.  Sometimes being too quick to judge could cost you.  That's all for now!

"Tsk, tsk...  So just how long are some people in this world gonna go around and ignore this sentimental lesson?  This is why the Chazz stands alone.  Doesn't anybody know a nice guy when they see one?  Or hear of one, for that matter..."

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