Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Picking Apart "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", Season 2 Episode 14

For many fans, this episode was the start of something they would never forget.  And it all started with this once background character, a Pegasus named Ditzy Doo.  To fans, she is known by popular demand as Derpy Hooves, named for her goofball facial expression and for the Internet expression known as "derp".  She started off as a background character with an animation error in the very first episode, which was the start of it all.  Seeing that this one error became surprising popular among fans (mainly bronies I'll bet my money on), the show's crew began to give her this cross-eyed expression on purpose, beginning in the episode "Feeling Pinkie Keen", as a nod to fans.  They later adopted the name "Derpy", as proven in this very episode when Rainbow Dash mentions her name and she gets her very first speaking role in the series.  I can only surmise that fans (again, I'm willing to bet mostly bronies) rejoiced over this very moment, but it did in fact spark controversy that had no choice but to meet with amends.  It began when the episode was removed from the iTunes store and then put back.  That's when it was discovered that the episode had in fact been changed.  Rainbow Dash no longer mentions Ditzy Doo's fan name (no problem), she sounds more femine (also no problem, considering that her original voice actress, Tabitha St. Germain, did not know she was female), and she appears to be hardly even cross-eyed as opposed to her original appearance.  This, for fans (again, bronies likely), was the start of an uproar.  Now, not being a brony myself, I seriously don't know why these protestors started getting on Hasbro's case for a simple little edit.  I know the cross-eyed expression makes Ditzy Doo who she is, but come on, bronies!  Show them some love, will ya?  After all, there is in fact a legit reason as to why this happened.
Amy Keating Rogers, the writer of the episode, who had also previously written "Applebuck Season", had received 10 negative e-mails, presumably all from parents, mentioning in some way that the use of the name "Derpy" was considered offensive towards people with disabilities, never mind that she also received 200 positive e-mails from fans, or bronies I assume, praising her for finally having the name being mentioned on the show, though I should say for the record, the first time her proper name was used was in the episode "Winter Wrap Up".  Each and every negative e-mail made her feel awful once she came to realize that this term was also somehow another way of saying the word "retard", which as we all know is considered a slur towards disabled people.  Now Amy apparently did not know this and considering that her own son is among these people with disabilities, she changed the episode's script so that subsequent airings of the episode after the re-release on iTunes would not mention the name "Derpy" ever again.  And if bronies are still angry over this, then it's obvious to me that they don't care that it might be offensive, meaning they might just be disrespectful to people with disabilities... people like me.  And personally, it's very sad that this is plausible to say about bronies because they might not give a damn.  They just want their precious Derpy back.  I for one am neutral with this change.  Because I'm not a brony, I could care less.  The only thing that matters to me is that I hope bronies use their heads and look inside their hearts (assuming they have any) to see what really matters.  I'm not gonna start hating on anyone because of this, but that doesn't mean I can't express my disappointment for bronies starting a big and unnecessary bash.

Now although Lauren Faust herself once stated that should this "Ditzy Doo" name ever show her face as a character, she would basically be a clone of Derpy.  But from what I see, Ditzy Doo and Derpy are both one and the same, and I'm all for calling this Pegasus gal Ditzy Doo from this point onward.  And there's no excuse to come after me for this because I'm not a brony and I obviously don't support anything that could be considered offensive, never mind what any of you bronies and fans think.  If "Derpy" is offensive, then I'm calling her Ditzy Doo and that's all there is to it.
Besides, ever heard of the PonyKart project?  The staff behind this fan-made game is even calling her Ditzy Doo and acknowledging that she and this "Derpy Hooves" are one and the same anyway, as well they should be.  So to make things simple, Ditzy Doo it is.  Now that this debate is over (please don't argue with me on any part of this, it's not worth the trouble), it's time to get to this episode for real.

The Last Roundup
So we learn that Applejack is taking part in the Equestria Rodeo competition in Canterlot.  Clearly, she's the best in Ponyville, if not the only one, so I'm sure we're thinking that this is her chance to prove just how good she can be among the best in Equestria.
Now here's the problem.  The town hall is somehow in a wrecked state (according to Rainbow Dash, Ditzy Doo accidentally destroyed much of it somehow), and needs obvious repairs.  The mayor states that Applejack is expected to win prize money and use it to fix the town hall.  What's the problem, you ask?  That.  The mayor, hell everyone in Ponyville, initially believes that Applejack is gonna win first place in every single competition and come home with loads of blue ribbons and plenty of prize money.  That's like saying she's already won before things even get started.  This will later become a major drawback because now it's already obvious that she's not going to win.  How do I know this?  Well, let's think about this for a minute, shall we?
If I knew all kinds of cartoons, TV series, films, video games, and such, whatever is thrown right in front of our faces and whatever it is characters hope for, nothing comes to pass in the long run.  Okay, so that one scene in the beginning of the film Babe in which Arthur Hoggett won the prize pig when he was expected to was an exception, but still.  You get what I'm saying?  In this case, all of Ponyville expects Applejack to win it all.  If I were any of these kooks, I wouldn't even bet my chips on Applejack at all, even if she is my favorite character in the series.  Does that say anything?  The point is that when things are expected to happen as if it's obvious, the exact opposite always happens!  Add on that the rodeo competitions aren't even shown on screen.  What does that tell viewers?  She's already lost.  And if there's anyone who didn't see this coming...

So the episode plot itself starts a week after Applejack leaves for Canterlot.  Her friends and the Apple family receive a telegram that she's not returning for Ponyville and she'll find some other way to send money for the town hall damage.

So obviously, the other five main characters go on a quest to find her, which they do at Dodge Junction.  Apparently she's working for a lady pony named Cherry Jubilee, the boss of Cherry Hill Ranch.  This must be how she's gonna earn enough money to make amends.

Applejack: I thought cherries would be a nice change from apples, so I took the job and came here. That's it. End of story.

Pfft.  Obviously there's a lot more to it than that.  However, the others soon realize that by simply questioning her, they're being too soft on her and so they decide that they next meet, they will interrogate her until she gives in.
Rainbow Dash comes up with an idea to have Pinkie Pie irritate Applejack to no end.  She pretends to give in and agree to tell the group at breakfast the following morning... and they trust her to do so.
Pinkie Pie: Do you Pinkie promise?
Applejack: I will tell you the whole truth at breakfast. Pinkie promise.
They do realize they've just fallen for the oldest trick in the book, right?  Well apparently, because Applejack is their friend, they're underestimating her.  Now it's obvious that she's not gonna keep her word and use the extra time as a means to escape, which is what happens.

It all builds up to a wild chase across the prairie, losing Pinkie Pie and Rarity in the process.  Eventually, Applejack barely evades an incoming train, causing the ponies pulling her carriage to ditch her, and she thinks she's safe.  Uh, Applejack?  You do realize that Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, who were pulling another carriage, are Pegasus and can fly, right?
Apparently not.  They leap clean over the train and despite not standing a chance of escape now, she tries to make a break for it anyway.
Rainbow tackles her effortlessly, causing every single one of her ribbons in her saddlebag to spill out.  Having no other choice, she reveals the real reason she couldn't show her face in Ponyville.  She never won first place, and of course no prize money, and it didn't help that everyone in Ponyville, including the mayor, had such high expectations of her.  Hey, if I had been under that much pressure, I'd crack and I wouldn't even try anything!
Fortunately, her friends assure her that they'll find another way to fix the town hall and they just want her back.
Look, even Rainbow Dash is crying... again.
So she agrees... and narrates her first letter to Princess Celestia.  But the episode's not over yet!
Don't forget that Pinkie Pie and Rarity got left behind.  They've been forced to use a handcart to get back to Ponyville and all the while Pinkie Pie is using the same tactics Rainbow Dash suggest to drive the truth out of Applejack.  Rarity swears revenge on Rainbow and then the episode ends.

It sounds to me that Applejack's situation in this episode sets the perfect mood for country music.  Easy enough to say, considering that I always see her as the type who can strum a banjo and sing some sad bluegrass in a rocking chair on a porch at Dodge Junction.

I'm going there to see my father
I'm going there no more to roam

I'm going there to see my mother
She said she'd meet me when I come

You know, it's a funny thing that the lyrics of this song are symbolic of the afterlife, considering the debate that Applejack's parents are deceased according to Lauren Faust.  But hey, you know, it's country music, it kinda would have fit the mood just fine in personal opinion.  But then again, what would be the chances that using her hat or even a banjo case would work anyway?  No wonder she resolved to working at Cherry Hill Ranch.  Geez, first apples, then oranges, now cherries.  Ah, the fruits of labor strike again.  Oh, and regarding Ditzy Doo, since I'll never support anything that has the potent of being considered offensive, personally I think it's for the best that this episode was altered.  Again, I must ask any of you angry bronies not to come raining down on me for this opinion.  It's not worth your time because I'm not even a brony myself anyways.  I'm just doing this critique and you can thank the horrendous Season 2 finale for giving me the incentive to do so.  Peace out!

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