Sunday, September 14, 2014

Picking Apart "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", Season 4 Episode 13


WARNING!  From this point onward, the following reviews will consist of using heavy profanity.  It is advised not to proceed past this point unless you are 18 years of age or older.  Profanity will be used to express personal opinions only, so there can be no one responsible if anyone is greatly offended because you have been warned.  If you can handle profanity and you're ready to proceed, by all means do so.

"I used to wonder what friendship could be; until I surpassed those who first showed it to me."

- Russet Burbanks, Fanfiction.net

Hey, guys.  This is The Thunder.  So, how many of you have wondered why there's a serious lack of romance in the series?  After all, in comparison to other 2D animated cartoons, we just don't see nearly as much in this one.  And I'm not talking about the occasional flings between married couples who like to have their happy time.  I'm talking about young couples who aren't even engaged who try to hit things off over the course of a cartoon series.
I mean couples like Danny and Sam from Danny Phantom...

...Candace and Jeremy from Phineas and Ferb...

Robin and Starfire from Teen Titans...
...and so fucking many in anime!  But what's with this series?

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Is it because romance is not what Lauren Faust envisioned for her original adventures?  Is it because there are more female characters than males?  Is romance considered a cliche so that this cartoon can try to be a little different?  I don't know.

Now I initially think that of all the Mane 6, Twilight Sparkle would be the one to start building up a relationship as time goes on because she's the central character, right?  Of course, judging on the last episode, I'm sure fans are shipping Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich like crazy and who can blame them?  But of the Mane 6, who's the one who wants a shot at romance first?  Rarity.  And this was revealed since way back in the third episode of Season 1.  And we all know how charming that turned out, didn't it?

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So, to make a long story short, Rarity's taking another shot with another pony she's apparently heard all about for a long time.  So let's find out all about it in this episode, simply known as "Simple Ways".

We start with an appearance from Mayor Mare...

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...as she announces that Rarity will be hosting the annual Ponyville Days festival, an event that celebrates the founding of Ponyville.  So it's no surprise that Granny Smith is on the selection committee.  And the reason Twilight didn't know is because she wasn't in the episode "Family Appreciation Day".

So Spike, probably due to his fetish for Rarity or her taking advantage of his fetish for her by asking him to do a favor, goes over Rarity's plans for "Small Town Chic".

Hey, I'm sure Kindle would be interested.  She likes anything chic.
Fluttershy: Oh, I think it's going to be magical.

Rarity: [gasps] Do you really think so?

Pinkie Pie: Are you kidding? I can't wait!

Rarity: Oh, that's such a relief.
'Kay, that was pointless... kind of.  But seriously, how come the term 'magical' doesn't appeal to Rarity?  Isn't she like a fucking unicorn who's all about magic?!

Anyways, we learn that above all else, there's just one thing on Rarity's mind.
Rarity: Creating a Ponyville Days festival fantastic enough to impress... Trenderhoof!
[beat]

Applejack: Uh, who's Trenderhoof?

Rarity: What?! How can you not know who Trenderhoof is? Trenderhoof is only the most amazing, handsomest travel writer to have ever traveled or written! Before Las Pegasus became an Equestria travel destination, he wrote about it! Before the culinary revolution in Trottingham, he discovered it! He knows what's going to be hot even before it's tepid! [giggles]
So Rarity greets Trenderhoof at the train station and introduces herself, as does he.

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But during a tour of Ponyville, things take a sudden turn when Trenderhoof is brought to Sweet Apple Acres for the first time.

Trenderhoof: Oh, breathtaking! I've heard about it of course, but to see it in vérité, to stand on the soil of a working farm... You can really feel the authenticity.

That's... actually very intriguing.  Seems that Trenderhoof has a bit of interest in a countryside surrounding, I guess.  It's not really explained what draws him in besides the fact that he's heard about Sweet Apple Acres.  But you know, taking a fancy to it can be at least showing that you're being appreciative of farm work and how it grows our crops, puts food on the table, and a bunch of other important stuff vital to human life.  I mean we all know it's hard work all the day and every day, but it's these things we appreciate because of how beneficial it can be and--
Trenderhoof: Who... is... that?

Applejack: [panting]

Rarity: Who? Applejack? Ahem! Why are you staring at her like that?

Trenderhoof: I've seen a lot in my travels, but I've never beheld such beauty. Applejack... The pony of my dreams...
Huh...  A stallion gets a crush on... Applejack...  Guess it's true what they say that everyone likes things for different reasons.  Or maybe Trenderhoof likes blondes.

Rarity: He doesn't like me because he has a crush on Applejack, even though I've had a crush on him ever since the beginning of time, and it's not fair!

Hey, wait!  What about Blueblood?  I thought you were in love with him first?  What, was he so bad a character that he got thrown out of the continuity altogether?!

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So Rarity is upset that Trenderhoof... has a thing... for Applejack.

Rarity: Oh, Spike, how could you ever know what it's like to be totally obsessed with a pony only to find out they're obsessed with somepony else?

You just gave Spike a slap in the face right there.  Now go and eat a bucket of ice cream.

Oh, wait.  You do that well enough ten episodes later, so I guess you don't have to right now.

So Trenderhoof and Applejack talk and it seems to be going okay, but we can kind of tell Applejack isn't taking much of a fancy to Trenderhoof in return.
That's when they notice that Rarity is making a conscious effort to get into farm life in an obvious less-than-valiant attempt to win him over.
Is it just me, or does Spike seem surprisingly okay with this?  I guess he just wants his dear Rarity to be happy.


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And then we get this.

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What the hell, Josh Haber?!  Why do your episodes in this series so far come across as weird?  I know you're trying to go for the comedic approach, but... really?  I mean, talk about puppy love!  It's weird enough seeing it as two-sided, I guess.  I know it's meant to be funny, but doesn't this come across as hitting on someone else in a one-sided approach?

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And if that's not enough, Trenderhoof seems to be giving Rarity the benefit of the doubt, probably to add insult to injury... or insult to heartbreak or something like that.
Trenderhoof: Rarity, can I ask you something?
Rarity: Oh, why, Trend, you can ask me anything.

Trenderhoof: I've been meaning to ask for a while, and frankly I'm sort of embarrassed. Rarity... do you think... Applejack would be my date for the festival?
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Maybe I'm exaggerating a bit on this, but as for this episode itself, I actually wasn't sure what to think of all this.  Are we supposed to get the impression that Trenderhoof only seems to take a fancy to farm life because of his obsession with Applejack?  Cause that's not what I got at all.  Last I checked, Trenderhoof was already fascinated by the country air of Sweet Apple Acres before he laid eyes on Applejack.  So to be honest, I didn't know what to think of this Trenderhoof character at all.  Sure, I initially thought that he would be damaging his reputation because of his fetish for Applejack, but I had to drop that altogether after I saw this episode for real.  Is Trenderhoof the sort of pony who is actually drawn to farms?  Or is it just because of Applejack?  I don't know.  I can't tell!  Even if the lesson learned at the end of the episode was meant to suggest that Trenderhoof was only drawn to farm life because of Applejack, that alone actually doesn't make any sense.  We clearly see earlier that Trenderhoof is impressed by Sweet Apple Acres and its surroundings.  So when we're meant to get the idea that Trenderhoof is just trying to suck up to Applejack, it actually falls flat and doesn't really give anything.


Now if a person is trying to be someone else by imitating that person's personality and such, that's a completely different issue, but it's in fact the real way of not being one's self while trying to fit in.  Having interests in certain things such as farm life is something else, because regarding Trenderhoof, for all we know, maybe farm life really does intrigue him.  But after he becomes smitten with Applejack, that's not the impression that the characters are given.  So we don't know what to think.  Or rather, at least I don't.  After I saw this episode, I still don't know what to think of Trenderhoof.  The one scene in which he seemed interested in Sweet Apple Acres before he saw Applejack for the first time was pretty much what made things just fall flat and make no sense whatsoever.  Now, if you wanna talk about characters imitating other characters' personalities just to try to impress others, just watch this scene.

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*chuckles* Wh-what?  Did Rarity just try to pull off a southern accent to imitate Granny Smith?  It's gotta be tough enough for Rarity having a British accent, but never before have I heard of someone with a British accent try to speak with a southern accent as well.  This calls for another...
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And of course, I should point out that Rarity initially blames Applejack for Trenderhoof taking a fancy to her.  What the hell, you dick?  You couldn't tell that Applejack wasn't interested?  Is Rarity really so desperate to win Trenderhoof over that she really just can't tell when her friend Applejack isn't returning any affection whatsoever and didn't even ask for any of this bull fuck?!

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But that's not all.  Rarity decides to change the festival theme entirely just to impress Trenderhoof.  What's it called now?

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This comes across as funny at first, until Applejack eventually sees what Rarity is getting at and of course is pissed off.

You know, I recall this fan-made comic in which Applejack was feeling down because she felt like she was the only one of the Mane 6 who doesn't have the charm and looks that the others do, particularly Rarity.  Back when I actually liked Applejack as a character, I would have disagreed in a hitch!  And I kind of still do!  She still has her lovely blonde mane, that sweet southern accent, and no doubt still has the personalities I used to fall for.  I just stopped liking her because she just doesn't seem to live up to being as dependable or even mentally stable that she used to be.  In "Applebuck Season", when she went delirious from working 24/7 for a solid week, it was actually funny!  In   So Rarity tells Applejack that she is in fact envious of what Applejack has, which is honesty, dependability, and what she calls natural beauty.  Kinda like saying beauty is only skin deep, isn't it?  Obviously the Applejack in this episode doesn't have this concern at all and works hard for her friends and family, but in the comic, these two polar opposites had a heartfelt conversation!  And you know something?  Maybe Trenderhoof saw past Rarity's exterior makeup such as her false eyelashes and styled mane and saw natural beauty in Applejack.  Or this was thrown in for a twist to make us have a cruel laugh at Rarity's expense!  I don't know!  Whatever the case, maybe we're no strangers to having Rarity and Applejack throw their occasional fits and go at each other's throats, but to be brutally honest, I can't excuse Rarity for blaming Applejack for Trenderhoof's attraction to her.  It just makes no sense whatsoever and I can't find any justification for it whatsoever.  You know what Rarity needs?  Granny Smith's Apple Tree Sap.

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So Applejack gets back at Rarity by registering for the fashion show under the name... "Applejewel".  Okay, this is getting either hilarious or stupid.  Or maybe hilariously stupid.  These two polar opposite characters are now acting 100% like each other, being 100% polar opposites of their own personalities as well!  Let's watch both these scenes back and back and just try to keep a straight face.  ...Okay, I managed to do that, but you guys try that.

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So, because Rarity's instincts kicked in after seeing some mud splatter on Applejack's getup, they both decide that enough is enough.  But this episode ain't over yet!

Trenderhoof: [clears throat] I'm moving to Ponyville! Being the most interesting pony in Equestria is exhausting. I want to leave my exotic, exciting life behind and live on a farm!

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But again, I'm probably exaggerating.  After all, Trenderhoof did seem interested in Sweet Apple Acres to begin with, so we can't just assume he wants to live on a farm to stay close to Applejack... can we?  Anyways, this scene is handled surprisingly rationally.
Applejack: Uh, look, you're a fine pony, but, uh, well, I'm, uh...

Rarity: I think what Applejack is trying to say is that there's something unappealing about a pony who'd change themselves so much just to impress somepony else. If somepony doesn't like you for who you are, it's their loss.

Trenderhoof: Well, this is awkward.

Rarity: Not at all. In fact, I think I know just how you feel.
And if you remember what I said earlier, this makes no sense.  I might have thought Trenderhoof was like this at first, but then when I saw the episode for myself, it clearly pointed out to me that he found Sweet Apple Acres to be rather exotic, as if he might have been interested in farm life.  So what makes Rarity and Applejack think that Trenderhoof was changing his ways just to impress Applejack?  He already seemed interested in farm life, so this would-be lesson just falls flat and goes nowhere.  Sure, it's a good lesson and all, but here it doesn't add up.


And at this point, there's not much left of the episode to discuss, just that Rarity mentions that it was hard putting together the Ponyville Days festival and of course the lesson learned, which makes sense that she learned it, but I just don't get why Trenderhoof had to be told this.  For all we know, maybe he always did have a thing for farm life but just never had an opportunity to experience it as a whole.  He did say he had heard of Sweet Apple Acres to his credit.


So that was "Simple Ways", and it... was... weird.  In fact, the last episode written by Josh Haber, "Castle Mane-ia", was also weird.  Should I be sensing a pattern?  Probably not.  The would-be romance that gets exploited here is just nothing more than one-sided puppy love, which more often than not tends to go nowhere.  Most anime shows have young couples showing genuine love for each other and at least they have way better shots.  Hell, I even have to consider Phineas and Isabella from Phineas and Ferb as one-sided puppy love, especially after seeing this mess!

So again, this teaches kids a good lesson, but it just didn't make sense to tell it to Trenderhoof, that's all.  And I already explained why.  This is The Thunder, signing off!

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