Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Picking Apart "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", Season 3 Episode 8

Merry Christmas, bloggers!  Yep, I guess I don't take a holiday on these critiques, but yeah.  It's all about family at this time of year and that's the theme of this episode that I'm about to go over.  Before I begin, let's point out a couple of things.  First of all, how many of you read the synopsis?  For those of you who didn't, it's as follows:

"Granny Smith agrees to let Applejack lead the Apple Family reunion but Applejack loses sight of what is truly important."

Now, this sounds insanely familiar to me.  In what way, you might ask?

Well, for one, I've seen the 2009 Disney animated film, "The Princess and the Frog" seven times and if you remember back when I first started these critiques, I mentioned exactly what goes on in this film.  Tiana loses sight of what's important.
So with Applejack, I expected pretty much the same thing, that while she's gonna go into overdrive putting together this new family reunion, she'll forget that family is most important of all.  And that most important thing being that this time, every single member of the Apple family is attending this time around.  And I mean everyone!

Apple Family Reunion
So let's get started.  As the episode's name suggests, the Apple family is getting ready for another family reunion.

Granny Smith: I still can't believe it's been almost one hundred moons since our last family reunion.

Wait, what?  It's been that long?  Really?  Assuming Granny Smith isn't out of continuity or anything, what about the time in the very first episode of the series?  In the episode "Applebuck Season", Twilight even mentions all those family members as prospective helpers, to which Applejack responded that they only attended for the family reunion at the time because they all run farms all across Equestria.  Now let's do some calculations here.

Granny Smith says it's been one hundred moons.  Now a moon in our time is roughly the amount of time in between a period from one full moon to the next.  That's roughly about 29.53 days, or to simplify things, about a month.  This term actually derives from the word moon to begin with.  And since twelve months make up a full year, the time it takes for the earth to rotate around the sun once, according to calculations, one hundred moons is approximately one hundred months, about 8.3 years, give or take a day or two.  And if you were to ask me, I'd say the last so-called family reunion in the very first episode in the series was not that long ago.  Then again, for all we know, it might not have been a legit family reunion because not every family member was present.
Well, no, that can't be, because Granny Smith also mentions in this episode that not every reunion has had every family member attend.  But anyways, the thing to note in this episode is that this time, Braeburn from the episode "Over a Barrel" and Babs Seed from the episode "One Bad Apple" are both coming back, never mind that they didn't even exist until their debuts.  So, in any case, I guess this means that every Apple family member is showing up for real this time.  I mean it!

Now a while back, Cindy Morrow informed some hopeful fans that Babs Seed would definitely return at some point, being officially the fourth Cutie Mark Crusader and all that.  Not to mention, Babs became immensely popular by fans after her debut.  This episode must be what she meant because she wrote the script for it after all.

Apple Bloom: Babs is comin'! I get to see my favorite cousin!

Well, whaddya know?  After all the mayhem Babs caused during her debut, now Apple Bloom is saying she's her favorite cousin.  How nice!

Awww, look at that.

But here's the deal.  Applejack insists that while Granny Smith has gotten old, she's still got plenty of kicks left, but she takes it the wrong way.
Granny Smith: Who you callin' old?!
So Applejack offers to put together the whole reunion in Granny Smith's stead to give her a break for once, and she agrees.
So while Granny Smith goes over old photos from previous reunions, Applejack is racking her brain on how to put together the latest reunion on her own.

And check out this memory!  Applejack is the first of the Mane 6 to be shown as a foal and to my surprise, she's able to talk.

Baby Applejack: I'm Applejack! More apple fwitters?

Now here comes the part where Applejack focuses more on trying to spruce up the reunion instead of making time for family time, which is the most important thing I might add.  And that's what happens!

But check this out.  Looks like Apple Bloom is now quite capable of apple-bucking a whole tree on her own.

So when all the Apple family members show up as expected...

...the reunion kicks off and instead of the family catching up on old times right from the start, Applejack divides the family members to have each group participate in certain activities and festivities, but not before we learn about how Babs Seed finally got her bullying problem sorted out, by having apparently transferred to another school.

"Ha!  You know what makes a good pun here?  A bowl of Apple Jacks cereal!  Now why did that age-old question as to why it's called Apple Jacks because it doesn't taste like apples ever exist?  In case it's not obvious, the 'apple' refers to apple cinnamon!  It just took long enough to make those CGI commercials with that dumb apple and stupid stick of cinnamon to represent the flavor."

Well, apparently, Apple Bloom is the smart one who sees that family time is definitely more important than Applejack trying too hard to make the reunion more exciting than usual.  And Applejack still doesn't get it.  When she goes to take the first set of photos, she doesn't take any because all the family members are worn out.  Clearly, she's been blinded from what really matters.

Now this leads me to stop this critique for a moment because there's something that really perplexes me here.  I don't get why fans think that Applejack hasn't had her own episode so far in this series.  I mean, for a start, what did they think "Applebuck Season" was?  I'd say that counts if you ask me.  As for this episode, fans were really hoping that Applejack would be the star of the show and not just some background pony.  And that's what I really don't get, why fans think she's being treated as a background character.  Clearly, she's one of the main six characters of the show and she represents the Element of Honesty, not to mention she's already had her moments in the spotlight from time to time.  Quite frankly, I like to think that fans are probably just overlooking her as a character in general.  So if they're upset that they think Applejack didn't have her own episode up till now and is overshadowed as a character by Ditzy Doo or whoever, it should be their problem and not Hasbro's.

Anyways, it doesn't take a fool to realize that Applejack is trying too hard to make the reunion the best it can be.  Even the hayride isn't even all that relaxing, seeing as Applejack instructed the stallions pulling the wagon to go too fast.

Uh, I have a question.  Why couldn't Applejack just have the entire Apple family sit down for a nice, big Apple family meal?  That would have been the perfect opportunity for the family members to catch up on gossip and such while enjoying themselves at the same time.  But I guess not, though.

But look at this.  Fruit bats in the colors of the rainbow with bodies shaped like fruit and leaves for ears.  There's something you don't see every day.  Only in Equestria, folks.  Only in Equestria.  But I can't imagine all the animation that went into this.  It's incredible!

"Pfft.  Why waste time making any cereal colorful when it's meant to be eaten?  That's for little kids.  I mean, do they color cereal so kids get to play with it?  Or just have fun while eating?  There's already fun in eating cause you're eating!  Green rings... so redundant.  There isn't even any sour apple flavoring.  What's the point?"

Speaking of the fruit bats, one of them spies tasty apples on Applesauce's hat and makes a dive for it.  Well, they're not called fruit bats for nothing.  And with one riled up, the whole group goes as well.

As a result, the hayride goes completely off course and all the present ponies abandon ship just in time before the empty wagon smashes clean through the barn, taking it down and devastating poor Applejack.
And... well, that's the end of that joy ride.

Okay, so Applejack tried a little too hard to make an extravagant reunion, but big deal.  Look at her now.  She's crying, just like I predicted would happen at some point in the episode.  Really gotta feel for her, come on.
But leave it to Granny Smith to get her up off the ground.  She reminds Applejack that the day is still young and there's still time to make some happy memories by giving the family a chance to make it happen, so Applejack gets one final idea.
She rallies the entire Apple family to rebuild the barn in song and dance form.  By technicality, it's Applejack's first song in the series, but what really digs me about it is that it's like a country song!  Hoo-wee!  So like I did for the Smile Song from the episode "A Friend in Deed", I'm gonna let this lively folk tune play in its entirety.  Here we go!

And there's the family photo with all the Apple family members present.

Hmm... I dunno.  Somehow, I expected a lot more than just that lot.  But it certainly surprised me that Hayseed Turnip Truck is seen as an Apple family member.  Maybe the writers just tossed him in there randomly.  I mean, not just anyone attends an Apple family reunion, right?  And I suppose the Orange family counts, but I still don't know why they're there.  I mean, wouldn't the reunion activities have been... unsuitable for their sophisticated tastes?

Well, here's a question.  How come this was not a good time for Apple Bloom to earn her cutie mark from helping fix the barn?  Isn't building and fixing things supposed to be her special talent, as clearly seen in the episode "The Show Stoppers"?  I guess for one, Apple Bloom was working with everyone from the Apple family...

...so therefore she couldn't possibly acknowledge her own special talent when her skills are hard to stand out like a sore thumb.  Probably the only excuse the staff had, I guess.  That or they didn't even take it into account.

Anyways, the family reunion comes to a close and Applejack becomes the fourth main character in the series to write a letter to Princess Celestia personally and the third main character sign it off.  And the lesson learned is a family lesson, one I'd already gathered right from the very beginning.
Applejack: Dear Princess Celestia, today I learned a great lesson about family, which, if you think about it, is the first group of friends you ever met. Turns out that when you're with folks you care about, you don't have to do much to make that time memorable. Even the simplest of activities can take on a whole lotta meanin'! And you'll find that you'll remember the who long after you've forgotten the what. Your humble subject, Applejack.
So now Applejack has jumped up to third place for most number of letter written to Celestia, tying with Rarity, Spike, and Rainbow Dash.  Fluttershy now stands alone in fourth place and Apple Bloom still in fifth.  Okay, this episode was pretty good, but it still really doesn't quite measure up to the episodes "Sleepless in Ponyville" and "Applebuck Season", but I have to say it's at least a worthy episode and not just another piece of garbage like that God-awful Season 2 finale.  After all, leave it to a little bit of fine country tunes with a jazzy fiddler to give this episode a little pizzazz.  The animation is as always outstanding, especially the fiddle-playing during the song.  And I really can't kid myself here on this, but I'm glad I have an incentive to keep Applejack as my favorite character in this series simply because she finally got to sing in her most suitable style, country folk.  And that's that!

Oh, and one more thing.  Remember how Lauren Faust envisioned Applejack's parents as deceased?  Apparently, the pair of shooting stars seen twice in this episode are confirmed by none other than storyboard artist Sabrina Alberghetti, known as "Sibsy" to the fans, to symbolize them, meaning that as a tip of the hat to Lauren Faust, the parents of Applejack, Big Macintosh, and Apple Bloom, are now considered officially dead.  And it's canon.
So with that, this ye old rumor has finally been laid to rest, and in a way that isn't considered dark to any little kids that might have seen this episode.

Well, I gotta get going cause I've got some family time of my own to attend to.  So enjoy opening your stockings, drink plenty of eggnog, be thankful, and more importantly, absorb all that family time you may have.  I know I will!  Happy Holidays!  And raise that barn!

"Apple... Dapples?!  Who in the heck makes this stuff anyway?!"


  1. I didn't like this episode as much as the last three. To me, it's fairly average... not too bad but not too good, either. I liked Granny Smith's equally-old relatives and that whole (somewhat creepy) scene she did with her face.

    I don't know if the reunion in the first episode was a true reunion or just a small (relatively) family gathering, because it really looks like the last reunion was when Applejack was just a baby and that would have been over twenty years ago at least. And Granny Smith and her friends mention that they've been at the last six reunions. Meh, I'm still trying to rack my brain about how that all works. I don't think the writers really took much into account, and it doesn't really matter that much anyway. At the end, though, Babs and Apple Bloom say that they're going to see each other again for sure before the next reunion, which implies it's going to be a long time before the next one.

    So their parents are dead. I always thought that was the case, but it's official now and I think this is probably all we're going to get.

    For characters being "thrown in randomly", just take a look at the group shot in front of the destroyed barn. You can see Carrot Top, Bon-Bon, Mr. Greenhooves (the Canterlot gardener) and some Pegasi there. And in the final group shot some of the foals have grown horns that they didn't have minutes ago. So yeah, I think the animators often just paste in stuff even though it makes no sense for them to be there.

    Oh, and next week is going to be a (sort-of) Applejack episode as well. Only it's going to be Spike annoying her to death with gratitude and kindness.

    1. Zap2it has released a synopsis of a future episode "Keep Calm and Flutter On", in which Celestia charges the Mane 6 with BEFRIENDING Discord, meaning she wants them to reform the spirit of disharmony, much like what happens to evil forces from previous generations. But only Fluttershy is willing to carry out this task. This will make for a very interesting outcome.

      I knew a Phineas and Ferb episode that did the same thing as "Spike at Your Service". It was called "The Bully Code" and in it, Baljeet saves Buford from choking on four hot dogs and Buford starts doing stuff for his nerd friend endlessly, but it all ends when Buford saves Baljeet at some point just when Baljeet decides to get used to having Buford be his servant. Point being, the episode "Spike at Your Service" is probably gonna be nothing original to me. But having the Timberwolves return makes for a nice touch.