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Episode review: "Honest Apple"

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"Honest Apple" is an Applejack and Rarity episode, and I'm genuinely not sure if I have anything constructive left to say about episodes they share. Of course I didn't like "Honest Apple," because I think that pairing is inherently unentertaining. Of course Applejack's worst traits are exaggerated here, because that's just how episodes starring this duo work. If there's one thing I can uniquely criticize about this episode, it's the moral, which is even more unbalanced than that of "Parental Glideance," and is followed by the episode falling apart at the seams with a formulaic ending and some genuinely obnoxious jokes, more or less destroying all my goodwill towards it.

Rarity is hosting a fashion contest, and wants Applejack to participate as a judge in order to get a more function-oriented perspective on the contestants' clothing lines. However, once Applejack finally agrees and gets used to the idea, her criticism becomes increasingly rude to the point where she outright insults fashion in general, causing the contestants and other judges to leave.

Applejack's boorishness here is the latest example of the writers apparently not understanding that we like to see these ponies approaching problems with sensitivity. It shouldn't be so hard to give characters faults without having those faults become overbearing, but I guess it's just easier to write stories when a character is obviously and unequivocally in the wrong. It's also apparently easy to write episodes about Applejack and Rarity together, because then you don't actually have to put effort into writing a conflict. They fundamentally don't understand each other, so it's natural that they'd come into conflict. People who like their dynamic apparently enjoy that they bring out the worst in each other, and I've explained over and over again why I dislike episodes pairing the two together, so I'm not going to harp too much on it. The writers simply don't agree that this contrast is a problem, so why bother criticizing it?

But Applejack being insensitive isn't fun to me. There are other jokes in the episode, but they range from kinda amusing (Rarity shredding a guitar to relieve stress) to rather lazy (one of the contestants having a valley girl accent), and for the most part the episode coasts on Applejack's attitude. But I don't want to watch a character I like being rude, and even when she's been encouraged to be honest, I don't see why she'd outright insult fashion as a whole. If she and Rarity are friends, why would she think so badly of her friend as to insult her entire line of work?

Sorry, I'm harping on the dynamic. I'll stop.

It appears that Applejack becomes increasingly rude simply because Rarity doesn't stop her until it's too late. Applejack, being a farmer, has little nice to say about fancy dresses, and when she's encouraged to let out her unfiltered thoughts, of course she'll be rude. It's not fun to watch, because a character who's meant to be obnoxious is, y'know, still obnoxious, but it's also frustrating when Applejack takes the full blame for her rudeness, because Rarity did nothing to stop her. In the ending, Rarity decides to teach her by example, because Applejack realizing her mistake on her own would be too subtle, and never does the episode acknowledge that Rarity should have asked her to tone it down.

Furthermore, while Rarity has a reasonable justification for inviting Applejack as a judge, Applejack's practicality only extends to work clothes. Nobody in Rarity's leg of the fashion industry would make clothes for farm workers, so I'm not sure what Rarity was expecting to get out of Applejack. They've been friends for over six seasons now, so if Applejack doesn't know much about chic casual wear, Rarity ought to know that by now. Different designers have different audiences in mind, and some are likely more akin to painters than salesponies. What might have been more entertaining would be if Applejack's criticisms actually did have some use, as at least then the entire episode wouldn't seem like a miscalculation on Rarity's part.

But the actual lesson is fine, I guess. Learning to appreciate the work put into things you don't care for is pretty nice, even if it's one of the most simplistic places this episode could have gone. If they wanted to keep this moral, there must have been some way to not have Applejack only serve to act poorly and be taught a lesson. Furthermore, if Applejack really knows Rarity, shouldn't she already know how much work goes into fashion? I always felt that they just don't get along, but do they outright not spend much time with each other?

Sorry, harping on the dynamic again.

In the climax, the contestants and other judges return to their homes, but once Applejack learns her lesson, she effectively kidnaps them in order to prevent them from leaving, including jokes where the contestants run away from her and are later literally tied up with Applejack's lasso. Because kidnapping is hilarious, apparently. But as odious as that is, the bigger issue is that Applejack rounded them up to make things right, and that's about as predictable an ending as I can imagine for this show. In truth, the whole story here is deeply formulaic, but it's this stale, cookie-cutter ending which really got on my nerves, because it speaks even more to how lazily written this episode is.

That Applejack was gonna be irritating comes with the premise, and I knew I wouldn't enjoy the dynamic, but while I've come to terms with that, I can at least criticize the episode for being formulaic, simplistic, and unbalanced. There are some funny jokes, and the moral is okay, but at the end of the day it's a very by-the-books Rarity/Applejack episode, and it comes with all of the things which make these episodes insufferable to me. The first half or so is relatively inoffensive and seems to be going somewhere interesting, but the latter half falls entirely apart and undoes all that good will. So it's another episode with this pairing that I don't enjoy. How surprising.

Entertainment: 4/10
Characters: 3/10
Themes: 5/10
Story: 4/10
Overall: 40/100
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