Monday, December 31, 2012

Picking Apart "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", Season 3 Episode 9

Spike at Your Service
Spike gets a day off for what seems like the first time in his life, as for the life of him, he can't figure out how to fill a day.  Kind of like Roxas as seen in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.
He decides to go on a hot air balloon ride, but for some dumb reason, he walks smack into a pole which sends the balloon on its way.
After Spike catches up with it, he winds up lost in the Everfree Forest and has a run-in with three timberwolves.  Never thought we'd see these guys again.
And now they're being animated using CGI this time around!  Man, this series has got it all, it seems.
So Spike, being a little guy, is naturally intimidated and runs for his life, so here's the first point in the episode where I start to get critical.  I know this is a kids' show, but let's consider that bronies and pegasisters are more of an audience nowadays.  But more importantly, let's go over some obvious facts of nature.
Spike may be a baby dragon, but he's still a dragon and he's more than capable of breathing fire.  So therefore, is anyone else confused as to why Spike didn't even try to ward off the timberwolves by breathing fire on them?  I mean, they're made of wood.  All Spike has to do is a little "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll set you on fire" and BAM!  They're toast!  But, no.  Contrary to what we would expect of a dragon, Spike heads for the hills instead and gets himself cornered.
That's when good ol' Applejack shows up and distracts them and somehow is narrowly able to get them all killed.
See?  The timberwolves get killed.  Would it have been any different if Spike was brave enough to wipe them out on his own, which would have been easier I might add?  Anyways, after the fiasco, Spike then comes to realize...
Spike: You... saved... my life!

But then of course, Spike has to go and lie about the hot air balloon instead of telling Applejack he intended to go for a ride but things got awry.  Oh God, the lies that are told in this series.  It's like these characters don't even know each other at all.  I mean, what Spike did was just an accident, never mind that he was being a doofus and didn't look where he was going.

Oh... I guess that timberwolves can't exactly be killed by falling apart.  See?  This is why Spike should have burned them to a crisp.

So Spike now wants to repay Applejack in any way he can, despite her contrary to his insistence.  Applejack succumbs to Spike's begging and pleading and allows him to work on the farm, but all he really ends up doing is being more of a hindrance than a helper.
And that's kinda bad because Spike has this "Noble Dragon Code" he lives by, or made up for that matter, complete with a drawing that looks like it was done by a five-year-old, and claims that he owes Applejack a life-debt, which means that the cowgirl is stuck with this deadweight of a dragon as long as he lives.
Spike tries to break this to Twilight, but due to Celestia's off-the-cup reading assignment, she barely acknowledges him and his news, which of course hurts.  Guess that means Spike has a new master now.
Great.  What else could possibly go wrong?  Well, let's find out.

First he bakes an awful pie and delivers it to Rarity par Applejack's "request", and to avoid being impolite, Rarity forces herself to eat a slice, never mind that she spits it out when he's not looking.
That's when Rainbow Dash shows up and suggests having Spike rise to a bit of a challenge by gathering rocks for her to smash through.  Turns out, Spike is able to put together a tower, which catches her off guard.  Now here comes a rather awkward statement.
Fluttershy: If it'd been me, I'd've just pretended I didn't have anything for him to do.
Applejack: Why didn't I think of that?
Yeah, like Spike is gonna fall for that.  I admit, Spike does tend to be ignorant sometimes in some episodes, but he's not that stupid.  He's known Applejack long enough to know that on a farm, there's always something that needs to be done.  That's farm life.  It's either that or Fluttershy just can't come up with the brightest solutions.
So after Rainbow somehow takes down the rock tower, probably getting herself into a mess in the process, Applejack takes Fluttershy's suggestion, but just as I thought, it doesn't suit Spike at all.  And he starts making zero sense with his next choices of words.
Spike: Maybe there's things you need help with, but you don't even realize you need help with!
Fluttershy: If she needed help, I think she'd realize it.
Spike: Maybe not! Maybe Applejack needs help realizing what she needs help with! Like, maybe her back itches!
Applejack: Huuuuh... that does feel... good...
Spike: See? Or you might need help remembering your favorite song! "The Dragon is the finest creature ever, there's more to him than just guarding treasure..."
Fluttershy: I don't think that's her favorite s-
Spike: Or you might need help breathing!
Applejack: Breathin'? I certainly do not-
Spike: See? There are plenty of things I can help you with, and you don't even have to trouble yourself with thinking of them!
What?  What the hell, Spike?  What the hell?

So Applejack consults with Twilight, but as it turns out, she's just as knowledgeable of the Noble Dragon Code as Spike is.  Typical.  Now I'm thinking that when it comes to a life-debt, the only possible way to completely fulfill one is to save a life in return.  And that leads me to break away from this critique long enough to mention an episode from Phineas and Ferb that goes on about virtually the same thing.
In the episode "The Bully Code", Baljeet saves Buford from choking on eating four hot dogs at once by administering the Heimlich maneuver and Buford comes up with this so-called "bully code" and resolves to be Baljeet's "slave" for life.  Baljeet enlists the help of the creative stepbrothers Phineas and Ferb to come up with a way for Buford to save Baljeet's life in order to help fulfill Buford's debt.  Of course the irony is that Phineas points out the prospects and advantages, but just as Baljeet begins to reconsider, Buford ends up saving Baljeet's life anyway.  Badda bing, badda boom.  But something tells me that this episode is gonna turn out differently than just something as simple as this.

Bingo.  A fake Timberwolf.  Or at least, that's part of the plan.  Applejack is apparently planning to pretend to get herself trapped so Spike can free her and save her life, thus filling her debt.  However, something always has to go wrong.  Don't ask, it just does.
Rainbow Dash imitates the roar of a Timberwolf, but look.  It ends up attracting real Timberwolves.  Does anyone else see that this is not gonna go as planned?  Put your hand down, Ferb.
Well, as a matter of fact, the real Timberwolves are prolonged at first and the plan is carried out.  The trouble is, Applejack makes a lousy damsel in distress and Pinkie Pie being Pinkie is just not fooling anyone.  Hell, I'm surprised that Spike actually falls for the decoy Timberwolf at first.
But just as Spike is onto his friends, the three Timberwolves from before return and they're not too happy about being bested by a pony the first time.  Can you blame them?
Applejack crushes the timberwolves with a rock, but slides off the rock pile and gets herself snagged for real.
And that's not a good thing because the Timberwolves pull themselves together again, this time forming into one gigantic Timberwolf threatening to devour Applejack in one bite.  Guess it's true that the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
Spike insists on trying to save Applejack instead of running for cover and he unintentionally does so by making the Timberwolf... choke... on a small rock.  Yeah, I really wish I was making that up.  But at least it works.
Spike then pries Applejack free, saving her life, they both run like hell and the monster-sized Timberwolf is destroyed...  Well, at least for now.

So Applejack promises to still think importantly of Spike, never mind that no one really did in the episode "Dragon Quest", as long as this awkward Noble Dragon Code ceases.  About time too.  I mean, since when did Jar-Jar Binks go around doing favors for Qui-Gon Jinn?  He didn't.  He just stuck with him for a while.
So in the end, Spike is back to square one, helping out Twilight as her number one assistant, which is probably for the best.  The end.