I really wish my sister were here! - Apple Bloom
The Apple family is having a counsel, and it’s finally decided that Apple Bloom is old enough to stay home while Granny Smith is away visiting, and her big sister and big brother deliver some apple pies to some far away towns. Despite Applejack having her reservations, she starts off on her journey. To make herself feel better, she leaves Apple Bloom with a long list of chores and instructions. Apple Bloom is over the moon to be on her own for once, but also determined to prove capable of staying home alone. She’s doing fine, until Applejack returns to check on her and startles her into spilling spaghetti sauce all over herself.
Thinking her former concern is justified, Applejack becomes extremely smothering, keeping tabs on Apple Bloom constantly, slamming helmets onto her head at the slightest provocation, baby proofing everything in sight and continually reiterating that she can’t trust Apple Bloom to continue basic subconsciously-controlled life processes without her big sister being nearby. As the day wears on, Apple Bloom gets more and more irate. Enlisting the help of her CMC friends, she decides to deliver the pies that Applejack hasn’t, so as to prove she is independent and responsible. This leads to one of the few funny moments in the episode, as she starts to sing a song about the situation, only be shushed by Scootaloo, who claims there’s no time for a song.
Apple Bloom sneaks out the window and away with the pies, while her friends cover her escape with subterfuge. Sweetie Belle dons a spare bow and gets into bed to pretend to be Apple Bloom taking a nap. Scootaloo hides in the closet so they can take turns. Applejack comes in for a spot check, which she fails, as she doesn’t notice that her “sister” has a different colour scheme, a different mane style, and is more “horny” than usual too (pardon the double entendre). I guess those bows come from the same shop as Clark Kent’s glasses.
Over the next few minutes of screentime, Applejack keeps popping in to ask if “Apple Bloom” needs anything, or if she heard a call. This might be why Scootaloo never gets a chance to play Apple Bloom, since she might not want to take the chance of Applejack coming in in the middle of the swap. At any rate, in her final check-up, Applejack muses aloud that perhaps she is being a bit silly with this whole issue (no… really?). This makes Scootaloo so happy that she shouts out and ruins the whole thing. The jig is up! As the two CMC tell her what happened, Applejack is horrified to find out Apple Bloom left without fire-proof boots, a lion-tamer’s chair, a snake-charmer’s flute and a hunk of ricotta and that she left hours ago.
At this point, the episode makes a hard left turn into Surprise Creepy City. We rejoin the silly filly herself, as she follows the map, leading her (and therefore us) to the hellish atmosphere of the fire swamp. The only thing missing is the quicksand and the Rodents of Unusual Size – possibly because they’ve been eaten by the monster of this episode – the Chimera! The Chimera has a tiger and goat head in front, and a snake for a tail, all female, so kudos. Said monster is only too happy to see some pies, and a side order of tender young filly fillet.
Although it isn’t the first time the possibility of something eating Apple Bloom has come up, (“Bridle Gossip” and the Apple Bloom soup) this is the first time it’s being presented quite this seriously. Despite the Chimera’s Faux Affably Evil manner, (even engaging her in conversation about annoying hovering sisters) it’s pretty clear that Apple Bloom is in danger of literally being filleted and eaten. That’s rather dark, and the evil gloating snickering of the Chimera’s three heads as it stalks her makes this entire scene border on Nightmare Fuel (well, at least for the target audience). As the Chimera chases her, Apple Bloom ends up pushing the cart to the top of a hill, only for it to roll down and into the foliage. She has bigger concerns, though, as the Chimera finally corners her. Things look bad for the plucky little filly… but guess who comes galloping to the rescue?
♫Applejack! BUCK, YEAH! ♫
Using her Fetish Fuel Boots of Flame Resistance +1, her Folding Lion-Tamer’s Chair (+2 vs Tigers), her ChiméPokéFlute (puts snake monsters to sleep; also awakens sleeping Pokemon), and the hunk of ricotta for the goat, Applejack makes short work of Three-in-One, leaving it pinned to a tree on either end.
Applejack tells Apple Bloom off for going on such a dangerous journey alone, but is happy her sister is safe, even if she did lose all those pies… wait a minute, no she didn’t! Apple Bloom returns the pie cart to her sister, making Applejack realize that a pony who can successfully be rescued from being eaten and NOT lose her pies along the way must be independent enough not to need constant supervision. Yeah, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but at least it ended Applejack’s overprotective streak.
The pie delivery is made… to one of the more offensive stereotypes I’ve seen this show produce so far. We is hillbillies! We eat Swamp Water Casserole! Yeehaaww! And then the episode ends without any kind of moral being addressed. Perhaps because Applejack knew the moral all along? Or lazy writing? You be the judge!
Thoughts on the Episode
Despite having a fire swamp, and a three headed beast of myth, this episode is surprisingly boring. Perhaps that is because it’s too one note in the first half. The comedy gained from Applejack’s constant babying is rather quickly overshadowed by the annoyance the same engenders, with a few exceptions.
As I’ve pointed out in one thread, I don’t think calling Applejack “out of character” is accurate. We know she’s very family orientated, and can sometimes go barreling along without noticing how her behaviour is affecting others (as in “Apple Family Reunion”). But she’s usually willing to have her sister run all over Ponyville, left her alone or in the company of two other fillies at her clubhouse, despite the thing being, to coin a phrase, “one big bad wolf’s fart away” from collapse and on a secluded part of the farm. Who was it who fixed up that clubhouse good as new? The answer begins with “A”, and ends with “pple Bloom”. Applejack even came along and acknowledged it in that episode.
Now, for the sake of the plot 53(!) episodes later, Applejack suddenly doubts her sister’s ability to walk across a room without tripping and breaking her neck. That’s not OOC, that’s exaggerating a character trait (protectiveness of her sister) to absurd levels for the sake of a gag. I’m not sure which I dislike more, really. Not to mention that the gag itself wears thin very quickly. Then the central conflict is hurriedly resolved in a single line, after an event which by all rights should cement Applejack’s concern for her sister rather than assuage it. Never mind that your sister was nearly eaten, the real tragedy would have been the lost pies! Oh, they’re safe! Dodged a bullet there, alright.
Is this episode as low in my estimation as “Daring Do”? Not quite, as there are a few appreciable jokes and scenes that rescue it from sinking that low, but it gets really close. Not every episode can hit one out of the park, but this one barely makes it up to bat.
Apple Bloom calmly accepting the decision, and walking off. The CMC wait until they are out of sight around the corner before they start celebrating.
Tiger head: “You're lucky, you know. You've got no idea what it's like to have a sister constantly looking over your shoulder…”
Apple Bloom: “Uh, actually…”
Pros: The Chimera fight scene. The aborted song, poking fun at all the fans who claim there are too many unnecessary songs.
Cons: Flanderizing Applejack. The central concept played for comedy gets stale very quickly. Scootaloo has a moment of superb stupidity. Those hillbilly stereotypes. No moral worth mentioning. The resolution makes little sense and is very rushed.
5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon!
Stay fire-swampy side up!