Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Picking Apart "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", Season 3 Episode 6

We've now had six episodes revolving around the Cutie Mark Crusaders so far, which given all that they've ever suffered at the hands of Ponyville is too many.  The episode "One Bad Apple" was definitely another nail in the coffin that makes up this pointless saga, so we can expect by now that the staff writes these kinds of episodes as nothing more than an excuse to jump right in and tea-bag them while they're still down for the count.  But this episode, despite all three Cutie Mark Crusaders being in it, is not like the others at all.  Not by a long shot.  This time, the character of central focus is not Apple Bloom, not Sweetie Belle, but for the first time ever in the whole series... Scootaloo.

Now I'm pretty sure some fans have hoped that Scootaloo would have more visibility to her background, seeing as neither her home nor her family have ever been introduced to us so far, so you can imagine it's grounds for bronies and pegasisters to make up the fact that Scootaloo is an orphan.  Yeah, I'm sure she is.  But even in this episode, there's still no talk of any possible family or anything.  And unless it has any relevance to the series so far, or even the lesson learned in the episode, we're probably not gonna hear anything of the sort anytime soon.

But get this.  In the third generations of My Little Pony, Cheerilee is Scootaloo's sister.  Now I can understand why they're not exactly sisters in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  For one, Cheerilee is a school teacher and Scootaloo is in her class and seeing how we've seen plenty of scenes that show them both on-screen at once with no real sisterly bonding between them...  Yeah, we can assume by now that Scootaloo and Cheerilee being sisters in this series has been dropped.  Personally, I kinda wish it wasn't.
Instead, Scootaloo idolizes Rainbow Dash and looks up to her like an older sister.  This is actually the thing that gets further developed in this episode.  You'll see what I mean.

Sleepless in Ponyville
So Apple Bloom and Applejack are going camping up at Winsome Falls, which apparently takes a couple of days just to even get there.  Scootaloo is all jazzed up that Rainbow Dash complimented her graceful tricks on her scooter as it were the first time, so she wants to spend more time with her idol.  Apple Bloom thinks that Applejack could invite Rainbow Dash to come along for the ride so Scootaloo can come.  Now here's a funny thing that happens.  When Scootaloo tells Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle about Rainbow's compliment, she stretches the truth a little and here's what's said.
Scootaloo: I mean, it's like she actively told me she wanted to take me under her wing and teach me everything she knows, and become like my big sister!
Apple Bloom: I dunno about all that.
Sweetie Belle: It was a really nice compliment and all, but...
Scootaloo: I know, I know. But all that stuff I said could happen, right?
Apple Bloom: ...Sure.
Sweetie Belle: Absolutely.
Despite the obvious sarcasm used by the other two Cutie Mark Crusaders, this is actually, believe it or not, foreshadowing and a pseudo-spoiler for what happens at the end of the episode.  You know, I seem to recall predicting outcomes for some Season 2 episodes.  You remember back in the episodes "The Last Roundup" and "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000", it was remotely obvious to tell that the exact opposite of what was expected would happen.  Applejack gets that huge sendoff expecting to win it all and then she doesn't win jack.  Flim and Flam best the Apple family at making cider when it seemed that the latter would save their farm from terrible traveling salesmen.  Well, apparently, this time around I get to eat my words and say that what Scootaloo thinks will happen actually does get to happen.  How cool is that?  Not that I really predicted that directly.  All I did predict was that Scootaloo would cry for the first time in the series and that Rainbow Dash would admit to getting scared just like Scootaloo does in this episode.  And I was right!

But back to the episode.  Sweetie Belle decides that she wants to tag along, but since Rarity hates camping as expected, Sweetie Belle has to remind her what she should have learned back in the episode "Sisterhooves Social".  At least this part of the continuity isn't screwed because Rarity agrees for the sake of spending time with her little sister.
And also as expected, she goes completely overkill getting in gear, dressing up, bringing a shitload of stuff, and having a big two-story tent to boot.  I know it's Rarity, but still... how does she do that?  She's not even being Pinkie Pie.
That evening, the six of them gather around a campfire and Rainbow Dash decides to tell a scary story.  Scootaloo tries to play it cool by pretending she isn't scared and Rainbow buys it because she had witnessed her aerial stunts earlier on.  Now here's the thing that leaves Scootaloo as the odd one out, which in turn drops a hint that she and Rainbow will soon bond like sisters.

Rarity: Don't worry, Rarity is here to keep you safe and sound, ooh!
Applejack: Don't you worry, little sis. No 'olden pony' in our tent.

See, the thing that makes Scootaloo scared is that while Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom are comforted and cuddled by their older sisters, Scootaloo has no older sister or any family member present to do so with her, despite sharing a tent with Rainbow Dash.  So this makes perfect sense that she's the one who's gonna get nightmares from listening to this shit.

Oh, and here's a bit of a funny thing.  Rainbow disapproves of snoring, yet she apparently snores in her sleep herself.  Smooth.  Real smooth.

Well, speaking of nightmares, during the split-second we see Scootaloo's eyes close, she ends up in a sleeping world in which the olden pony Rainbow Dash mentioned in her story comes to life and haunts Scootaloo over her missing horseshoe.

...Wait, what's Princess Luna doing here?
And come the following morning, we see clearly that Scootaloo hadn't slept for the rest of the night, but ol' Rainbow is completely oblivious to her condition.  It also doesn't help that Scootaloo is trying to shrug off her fears just to get Rainbow to think she's cool and all that.
But leave it to Applejack to sense something wrong right off the bat and as expected, Scootaloo keeps shrugging her off, despite being all jumpy and a bundle of nerves.
She then falls asleep on her scooter and at this point, she suffers way too many close calls like a sleeping driver and ends up inadvertently jumping through a lot of hoops just surviving the ordeal she was completely unaware of getting herself into.  When the gang finally arrives at their next destination, Rainbow proceeds to tell a second story, this time about some headless horse, possibly a nod to Ichabod Crane.  And for some reason, Applejack gets technical about it.
Applejack: If it doesn't have a head, then how in tarnation does this pony know where it's goin'?
Rainbow Dash: It's headless, not brainless. [spookily] ...looking for little lost ponies-
Applejack: So where's its brain?
Rainbow Dash: Ugh.

Heh...  Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Anyways, after the story, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle have their comforts at the ready, but Scootaloo has zilch.  Now Scootaloo is desperate not to have to go to sleep because she doesn't want to have nightmares, so she proposes to singing camp songs.  Sweetie Belle obliges, but for the first time in the series, in addition to raising her voice tenfold like in the episode "Stare Master", she sings completely off key.  And the song is technically a preexisting song modified for pony standards.

Sweetie Belle: Ninety-nine buckets of oats on the wall, ninety-nine buckets of oats! Take one down, [crossfades] pass it around, you got eighty-one buckets of oats on the wall, [crossfades] forty-one buckets of oats! Take one down, pass it around you got forty [pauses] buckets of oats on the wall! [crossfades] ...buckets of oats! Take one down, pass it around, you've got zero buckets of oats on the waaaaaaaalllllll!!!!

Can't believe Scootaloo stayed awake for that.  Well, the inevitable happens and Scootaloo falls asleep, having a run-in with the headless horse from Rainbow's story, which for some reason looks like a headless Princess Luna.
Speaking of which, Luna herself somehow dives into Scootaloo's dream and takes the place of the headless horse.  Now how is she able to do that?  Well, she explains how, but what she says really raised an eyebrow on my part.

Princess Luna: I am the princess of the night, thus it is my duty to come into your dreams.

Wait... wait just a minute.  Luna has the godlike ability to enter the dreams of sleeping ponies?  Do you know what this means?  Luna never had to become resentful and transform into Night Mare Moon to begin with!  You remember the story of Night Mare Moon way back from the very first episode, right?  Okay, so how did it all start again?

Narrator: But as time went on, the younger sister became resentful. The ponies relished and played in the day her elder sister brought forth, but shunned and slept through her beautiful night.

Okay, so Luna got mad over ponies sleeping at night, which is common for a lot of us living upon this Earth, I should add.  But didn't she have the power to enter dreams back then too?  She was still the princess of the night!  Why couldn't she just go inside a few dreams and play with their dream forms?  Then she wouldn't have had to feel left out!  Didn't she just say it's her duty?  Not to mention, the premiere episodes were written by Lauren Faust herself, so I'm gonna guess that she made an innocent mistake of probably not even taking dreams into consideration.  Oh, well.  I forgive you, Lauren.  After all, it's always hard to come up with something for every contingency.  I know what that's like.

Well, anyways, Luna appears before Scootaloo to remind her that her biggest fear still exists inside her heart and unless she faces it head on, she'll keep getting plagued by nightmares.  Apparently, Scootaloo's biggest fear is, as we might have guessed, that Rainbow will one day shun her because she gets scared and isn't as tough as she wants to be.  But even Rainbow gets scared too and apparently Scootaloo doesn't seem to know that, seeing as she obviously wasn't a witness to Rainbow being nerve-wracked at the Young Fliers' Competition in the episode "Sonic Rainboom".

So Scootaloo wakes up and initially believes that the headless horse exists for real and so she panics for her life, riding her scooter off to God knows where.  Of course, what she actually heard was Rainbow's funny way of snoring.
But she ends up taking a tumble off a cliff, losing her scooter in the process, falls into a fast-moving river, and tumbles over a waterfall, only to be rescued by Rainbow Dash.
Scootaloo, remembering Luna's advice, fesses up to Rainbow that she only wanted to be cool so that Rainbow could hang out with her and show her the ropes.  This is where we learn that Scootaloo doesn't just idolize Rainbow like your average fan-girl.  She sees her as an older sister figure, someone who she can count on when life gives her lemons.
Realizing that this is what Scootaloo truly wants and that she isn't just some screaming fan running a clubhouse with a rainbow-colored hat, Rainbow secretly tells Scootaloo that she too was scared when she heard the stories of the headless horse for the first time.  And although having a kid sister may be new to her, Rainbow agrees to give it a try and they actually bond for the first time in the series.

Awwww... look at that.  This is really one of the most heartwarming scenes in the entire series and it shows that Rainbow Dash doesn't have to be too cool to cry, get nervous, show doubt, or even hang with those who idolize her.  Besides, being cool can't possibly be all that Rainbow cares about because we all know she dismissed her former friend Gilda in the episode "Griffon the Brush Off" because every other word that came out of her mouth was the word 'lame'.  And he... I mean, she certainly doesn't mind big group hugs with his... I mean, her closest friends, although Scootaloo had to go and think that they were sappy in the episode "The Cutie Mark Chronicles".

So the next day, the gang finally arrives at Winsome Falls and they decide to race each other to the top.  Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo seal their new-found bond in stone as sisters with Rainbow Dash holding Scootaloo aloft as they fly up through the colors.

And during Scootaloo's third dream, the olden pony returns and torments Scootaloo again only for Rainbow to appear to give her back her rusty horseshoe and send her on her way.
File:Luna smiling S3E06.png
Scootaloo's worst fear has been diminished and Luna appears, proud of her for mustering up her inner strength and courage.  And the episode ends.

Now it should be noted that Lauren Faust did originally intend for Scootaloo to be crippled as a Pegasus and unable to fly at all.  This was never explicitly stated in the series and only underwent a terrible excuse that she wasn't old enough yet or something like that, which was owned by Pound Cake being able to fly at the age of only a mere month old.  If you were to ask me, I'd say Scootaloo's disability has been secretly taken into account, seeing as I'm not expecting her to take off on her own anytime soon.  All the more reason she idolizes the fastest flyer ever known, because she's never gonna be able to fly herself.  The only thing her wings are really good for are helping her accelerate on her scooter.

So now Rainbow's personality has just branched out even further.  Sure, she still dreams of being captain of the Wonderbolts, but in addition to handling Ponyville weather patrol, she gains a passion for reading in Season 2, particularly the Daring Do book series, and is now gonna take part in Big Brothers Big Sisters by hopefully spending some real quality time with Scootaloo.  That's all the little filly ever wanted.
Hey, you know what?  I... I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but this episode was really good.  I'd say it's practically up there with "Applebuck Season" and "Luna Eclipsed".  Not only have Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo bonded for the first time, but Luna has a more active role instead of just making a cameo appearance by telling Scootaloo the key to conquering her nightmares.  This is definitely so far the best episode in Season 3 and I'm gonna take a wild stab and assume that this is as good as things are ever gonna get.  I know it's not like these episodes to end on sour notes, but that really doesn't stop them from being bad overall, quite contrary to what a lot of bronies and pegasisters may think.  Not to mention, this still doesn't even begin to make up for the atrocities in the Season 2 finale.  I know what potentially could, but it's not very likely to happen anytime soon.  Oh, and one more thing.  This episode was written by Corey Powell, her first episode written for this series, and somehow it comes out on top above many of the episodes so far.  So congrats, Corey!  Well done!  Kudos to you!

Okay, this makes six episodes and the next one up is gonna mark the halfway point in Season 3.  Can't believe we're here already.  Three months into Season 3 and already three quarters of the episodes are gonna come and go by the time 2012 is over.  Oh, well.  The season's already had its biggest highlight anyway.
[Pinkie Pie]
'Cause I love to make you smile, smile, smile
Yes I do
It fills my heart with sunshine all the while
Yes it does
'Cause all I really need's a smile, smile, smile
From these happy friends of mine


  1. This was my favorite episode so far this season, and not just because I'm biased a bit towards Scoot. The last few minutes is the most touching I've seen the series do.

    Like the previous episode, this one was clearly made with certain parts of the fandom in mind and... I really like how it was done. I'm a bit let down that there's still no information about Scootaloo's family given, but I think it's more than hinted now that she probably doesn't have one (or at least no older siblings).

    I know about the original idea about her never being able to fly, yeah. And it does have merit with both Pound Cake and other foals being able to fly just fine. I don't know if the show would go with "never being able to fly" or "will be able to fly, but not well". The latter would also be crushing because it would still mean that Scootaloo wouldn't be able to follow Rainbow Dash, but the whole point of it would be that she has to live her *own* dream. Personally, if I could choose I'd have it so that she's a weak flyer like Fluttershy but not completely crippled. On the ground, I think nobody would be faster than Scoot, not even Rainbow Dash.

    Also, I think this episode might end up being the only Scootaloo-focused one for a long time. In this case, good things came for us who waited and I hope it strikes true again. It's definitely one of the top-tier episodes of the entire series.

    This weekend is the Wonderbolt Academy episode. Now, I'd think that Scoot would be there to support her and cheer her on, but it's probably not likely due to different writers. And I'm not really looking much forward to it anyway because I just *know* that the "other candidate" will be (at this time) better and more ready than Rainbow Dash. I hope I end up being surprised again like the past two episodes.

    1. Add that it was done by a new scriptwriter and that's saying something.

      Well, I really wasn't expecting anything regarding Scootaloo's home or family, but it does suck how we keep getting left in the dust on it.

      If I recall, the Disney film "Finding Nemo" clearly showed Nemo with a growth disorder regarding his "lucky fin", Marlin saying he was born with it. Marlin even mentioned how it might affect him, which of course Nemo didn't take too well. So if Scootaloo was intended to be grounded for life, I don't see why it could have considered too "dark" or something to bring up. Besides, I think a back story would touch RD's heart. And by the way, I think Fluttershy was only a weak flyer during her youth and after "Hurricane Fluttershy", she's a much stronger flyer and isn't weak anymore.

      I have a feeling Scootaloo might not even show up in next week's episode. Call me "Batman" or pessimistic for having a bleak outlook, but hey, you know me. I just don't expect the best and when stuff like this episode happens, it's really pleasantly surprised.

      You have as strong of a prediction about "Wonderbolt Academy" as I do, my friend. The synposis told me enough. So I already know how to start the critique should things go as predicted - by asking how many airheads honestly though RD would have his moment of truth.

  2. I thought I should post this here. It has nothing to do with this episode, but seems to eerily match what I've predicted about Twilight and Derpy:

    Some are saying that post is a troll, but it doesn't really seem so to me. Derpy being phased out doesn't really bug me much since she was never meant to be anything more than a background character, but Twilight becoming an "Alicorn Princess" is a huge mistake especially if it's not the very end of the show. I just hope that, if this is true, that it's a temporary on-demand power-up and not permanent because otherwise it *will* change the entire show completely.

    And why does having both a horn and wings automatically make someone a Princess? I get the whole "Princess of the Stars" prophecy thing for Twilight, but what if anyone else is born or otherwise changed that way? I like the idea that in that world there might (very rarely) be some "normal" alicorns around and I don't think they'd all automatically be royalty, to be honest.

    1. This is very, very interesting, my friend. Now I suspect you already know this about me, but I don't care what happens to the show mainly because it already got screwed over thanks to the Season 2 finale. And it's a shame because it's had superior animation so far and I hate for it to be "wasted" on something which could end up steering downhill. I know your opinion may be a little different and I respect it, but I really don't care whichever direction it steers in, unless by some off-chance the wedding rehearsal is brought up again and Twilight's friends get to offer a more sincere and decent apology, including Princess Celestia. I will hang on to this tidbit of info, troll post or not. Thank you very much for providing me with it.

      If Twilight sticks to being an alicorn, I'd hardly see the potent and worth of a fourth season. But I'll tell you this much. Blaming Hasbro as a whole will be a huge relief because it pains me to say negative things about the staff for any of their decisions they make freely.

      With an alicorn being an automatic princess, it doesn't help that the alicorn filly in "Lesson Zero" was considered an animation error, did it? My OC, Smiling Princess, from the fanfic "Cutie Bloom" is technically not a princess, but that doesn't help much either, does it? I wonder what new villain could be present in the Season 3 finale. I keep thinking that's when Discord will reappear, but... I dunno.

      Tell me something, my friend. In what ways do you see "Alicorn Twilight" as a mistake? Name me as many ways as you can.

  3. That alicorn filly was only in Twilight's imagination about going back to magic kindergarten, so that can be explained away.

    The main reason I'm against "Alicorn Twilight" (aside if it happens at the end of the whole series) is because it would make her too powerful and would completely change her role in the series if she's also a princess. I've seen many fanfics where it happens and nothing ends up being the same anymore. Now, granted, big change isn't always a bad thing but I think it would be for this series unless it's done *very* carefully. Like, if that transformation ends up being permanent there should be an episode where she has to be taught to fly, and stuff like that.

    Then again that post could be fake for all I know. But it looks a bit too well written to be a troll, and in a few months we'll find out.

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