Hey kids, it's your friendly, neighborhood Batbrony! Gee whiz, another Saturday, another new episode of MLP, boy oh boy I sure am excited! Well, let's embark on what shall surely be an enlightening and fulfilling experience for all of us and watch another new episode of our favorite show, MLP!!!
*one episode of I don't know what the buck I just watched later*
No really, what in the hell did I just watch? Because it sure as hay wasn't MLP! Uh-uh, I refuse to call that MLP, not in a thousand years would I call that MLP! What was that piece of ass strutting around pretending to be MLP?!?! Guys... I have to tell you. I never thought this day would come, and I really hoped it wouldn't, but, it is official... after five years of "MMMMystery on the Friendship Express" being my worst episode of MLP ever, I... I now have a new worst. It is this. Fillies and gentlecolts, "Hard to Say Anything" is... it is only TECHNICALLY the worst MLP episode I've ever seen, because I still refuse to consider this abomination to be an actual episode of MLP. It. Is. That. Bad. There is no truly easy way to sum up everything that hurts about this episode, so I'm just going to have to go through the whole episode from beginning to end, sharing exactly what I'm thinking as I first watched this... thing. Well... here goes nothing. This is *throws up in his mouth a little* "Hard to Say Anything."
Alright, so things start off with the CMC getting some old costumes! Well, nothing wrong with that really, seems a bit odd that they'd be excited about that at this age, but OK, I'll bite. Well then it turns out that the "costumes" are a clown wig, a pirate hat, and mustache-gag-glasses. Uhhhhhhhhhhh, guys, you do realize that even five-year-olds know those aren't costumes, right??? Well as long as it's just some throwaway gag I guess it's no big- wait, what's that? These stupid not-costumes are a crucial plot-device that keep getting brought up throughout the episode? Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... why? I mean, really, why? The CMC (as demonstrated multiple times, including the past two episodes) are at a point in their lives where they're mentally and emotionally mature enough to solve problems with their intellect and by reasoning things through. The last time they needed costumes for anything was when they tried to get their cutie marks in a talent show, and (1) those were actual costumes that they made, (2) they were younger, and (3) it was just a bucking talent show and one of dozens if not hundreds of things they tried to do to get their cutie marks, not a potentially life changing situation like in today's episode! OK, so... not exactly off to a great start now, are we? Well, what comes next?
Wowwwwwwww, that... yeah, that looks pretty bad guys. Frankly, your apple disguise in this episode was a better disguise than these...
...and that should tell you everything you need to know about how these work as disguises
OK, Big Mac's here, and we learn he's taking some apples off to Starlight's old village for the fifth time in a single week. First of all, that doesn't seem possible for a number of reasons. First, the Mane 6 had to take a bucking train to originally get there when they first found the village. Because, ya know, it's in a pretty remote part of Equestria, and all. Big Mac, as far as we can tell, is just dragging his bucking apple cart all the way there. Second, Sweetie Belle distinctly mentions later in the episode that it was a long ride, so once again, I find it difficult to believe that even Big Mac could get to a location that is most likely hundreds of miles away five times in a single week just by dragging his heavy apple cart around. He may be strong but even he can appreciate and take advantage of the convenience of a train when the situation warrants it! But anyways, it clearly doesn't seem like that's why he's going, something which the girls quickly notice. Do they notice because they reason amongst themselves that it's downright odd that Big Mac would be making so many trips? Well, kind of, but not really. Really the big factor that leads any of them to conclude that Mac is up to something is Scootaloo saying she noticed him blushing, which just seems... dumber. I mean, who really ever notices anyone blushing unless they're right in their face? It's not like the blush alone was the only give away that something weird was going on, the CMC could've easily concluded that just by reasoning alone, but no, instead they figured it out because of something really stupid and cliche like noticing Big Mac blushing from a distance. Then they make some really stupid bucking guesses about why he's making so many trips and decide to tag along to spy on him. Not only is this decision made in a span of 10 seconds, but the CMC also decide that the best way to go about this is to lug along their "costumes" as "disguises" so that they'll "for realsies be spies guys, like, totally, they're totes legit now!" So now they're not pretending to be spies, they actually think they are being spies by dressing up in a clown wig, a pirate hat, and mustache gag-glasses... I would say this feels like something that S1/S2 CMC would do, but that feels like it would be insulting to S1/S2 CMC. In fact, I'm sure it would be insulting to them.
Alright, so they get to Starlight's old village and what do they find? Well, it appears that Big Mac has a crush on Sugar Belle, that cute unicorn from the S5 premiere who used to bake nothing but muffins during Starlight's old reign but is now the resident baker and is having the time of her life baking all kinds of yummy treats, many of which "conveniently" require apples to bake, and since they don't exactly have many apple trees in the area, she has to evidently order quite a few from the Apples (though admittedly it even appears that she has more than she needs, BUT she keeps ordering them on a regular basis and, during this segment, is clearly giving Big Mac some verbal and physical cues, and more than a few suggestive looks). I'll be honest, this introduction to these two works for me. Sugar Belle is as adorable as ever, the two seem to be going through the flirty, bubbly, butterflies-in-your stomach phase of a relationship RIGHT when it's on the edge of blossoming into a full blown one, and their chemistry is pretty infectious in this initial scene. This beg's the question however, WHAT'S THE BUCKING PROBLEM!!!
No, really, what is the problem? Even the CMC notice that Sugar Belle is as into Big Mac as he is into her, and really their initial encouragement that he just go and talk to her wasn't bad advice. Heck, they even point out that he didn't have a real first crush with Cheerilee considering it was a love potion, which, if you think about it, is kind of the pony-equivalent of a magical roofie. That's more than a little uncomfortable to think about and probably a big reason the writers decided to never go forward with making CheeriMac into a canon pairing; there would always have been questions, very uncomfortable ones, about whether or not their initial relationship was set off by first getting together when they were magically roofied, and frankly those are questions that shouldn't be asked in this show. So why I always did think that CheeriMac was a cute ship and am sad myself to see it die officially, I can understand why they would kill it and don't mind that, of all the ponies to pair him with, they chose Sugar Belle. That's actually a creative choice, really! She's not a local in Big Mac's hometown, and she's not a member of the Mane 6 or even a major character; she's just a random supporting character in a town very far away from Ponyville, which adds an interesting, long-distance relationship dynamic to her and Big Mac's pairing. Really, when we look at this episode from the outside, this is not just a good set-up, but an incredibly promising set-up for a really, really cool status-quo changer in this show that could have been so, so good. So what went wrong?
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I'll tell ya what went wrong. We've had shades of what's going to be so, so wrong up to this point, from some of the poor logic exercised by the CMC (namely those bucking stupid "costumes" they keep insisting are disguises, I swear I cringe every time Scootaloo puts that giant clown wig on and insists she's being a spy) but the moment Big Mac tries to express his feelings for Sugar Belle for the first time, this is where the s*** really hits the fan for the first time.
You see, when Big Mac tries to do something that should have just been a routine stage in starting a relationship which, by all accounts, was on the brink of starting anyway... this guy shows up...
Stop flipping your hair you obnoxious son of a turd's excrement
This... is Feather Bangs, or as I like to call him, "Piece of Lazy S*** Excuse for Giving This Plot a Contrived as Buck Conflict." Just... just look at him. Breathe it in, folks, breathe the stench of fail that is this character in. Where do I even start? How about his introduction, or rather lack of one! Yeah, this guy has no build up whatsoever! We aren't told who he is, what he does, why the buck he has a crush on Sugar Belle (seriously, not once, he just seems to want to get with someone for the sake of getting with someone), or where the buck he even came from! I ended this episode still not knowing whether or not he always lived in Starlight's old village, moved there only recently, or if he even lives there at all! So yeah, HE HAS NO INTRODUCTION!!! He just shows up and starts flirting shamelessly with Sugar Belle. And you want to know what the really bucked up thing is? SHE SEEMS INTO IT!! WHY??? Two seconds ago she was eyeing Big Mac up and down and "accidentally" bumping her snout into his! NOW she's into this tool??? Why is this so? Why, why, why, why, why????????
I'll tell you why! LAZINESS!!! GRADE A LAZINESS!!!! Let's take a look at the "special" writer of this episode, shall we? The writer of this episode is a first time MLP-writer by the name of Becky Wangberg. Ya wanna know what else she's worked on? The Fairly OddParents and a bunch of other no-name shows, most of which seem to be on Nickelodeon. Now let me say this; Fairly OddParents at one point was a good show, much like SpongeBob Squarepants was. But also just like SpongeBob, Fairly OddParents lasted too long and got driven into the ground by Nickelodeon's insistence that they keep churning it out, and eventually became a shallow excuse of a kids show. More importantly for the purposes of our beloved MLP, I would never want ANY writer for Fairly OddParents touching MLP with a 10-foot pole because the shows are completely different from each other! Fairly OddParents was almost always a comedy-show first and foremost, actual lessons were largely an afterthought. And when it was good at that, it was just fine! When it was bad at it, it was badddddddd. But MLP has never, ever, EVER been a comedy-show alone; it has had episodes that place more emphasis on the comedy than anything else, but for the most part it usually tries to teach kids and adults alike smart but also accessible lessons. They may sometimes be simple, but the execution is usually so good that one can't help but appreciate the efforts that went into teaching these lessons, and many times the lessons are very complex. This episode was not just an opportunity to teach a good lesson about starting a romantic relationship, but was also a status quo changer for a major supporting character on the show. So who do they give it to? A veteran MLP writer? OF COURSE NOT, THEY GAVE IT TO A FIRST TIME SHOW WRITER WHO HAS NOTHING ON HER RESUME THAT WOULD SUGGEST IN THE SLIGHTEST THAT SHE WAS QUALIFIED TO HANDLE THIS EPISODE!!! If there is one thing that defines this episode more than anything else, it is how much the laziness put into the writing defines it. It is a laziness we are unaccustomed to seeing in this show, and it is quite remarkable how much said laziness, something you might more typically see in a show like Fairly OddParents today, brings down a treasure of a show like MLP so, so much. I will discuss this laziness later, but suffice to say that it is present, it is at the core of what's wrong with this episode, and it brings it down so, so, SO low!
Alright, so... picking up where I left off, Justin Bieber as a pony shows up (man, I really wish I never had to say that), acts like a dumbass, and for some reason Sugar Belle now likes this. So Big Mac panics, because... Feather Bangs can juggle???
Anyways, he panics and the CMC decide to help. Heck, they even make a point of assuring him that they are MUCH more mature than they were the last time they tried to help him with his love life and would NEVER think of magically roofieing him or Sugar Belle! Well that's good, so do they suggest he do anything competent? HA HA HA, you poor bastards give this episode too much credit if you think they do! No, the characters who are probably late tweens or early teenagers by now (seriously, two weeks ago we had Sweetie Belle telling us she was into experimental theater right now, make up your mind show!) suggest that he do things as one would... in a fairy tale.
This is dumb. OK. It's dumb. I don't want anyone telling me that the characters who tried to figure out if a griffon could somehow have a cutie mark, have time and time again tackled their own insecurities and feelings of failure and inadequacy, and are now helping other ponies do the same on a regular basis, would suggest that someone should try to get into a relationship by doing things as a Prince Charming would in a fairy tale in SEASON 7 OF THIS SHOW!!! Heck, I don't think they would in Season 1 or Season 2 either, but Season 7??? REALLY??? Guys, if you wanted to do the "Character A needs help expressing his feelings to and starting a relationship with Character B with the help of Character C" trope, why did you pick the CMC in the first place? The only circumstance in which they should have been the ones helping Big Mac out with his love life is if he and Cheerilee were for real getting together; that would have been an interesting opportunity for the CMC to make up for their past mistake when they tried to force them together. But why are they here??? They don't know this town, they don't know Sugar Belle, and none of them have ever been in any relationship, SO WHY ARE THEY THE ONES HELPING HIM??? A friend and I agreed after this episode that it would have made far more sense if either (1) Starlight Glimmer, or (2) Applejack were helping Big Mac in this situation than the CMC. First, they're both older so presumably at least know a little more about relationships by virtue of age alone. Second, they both know the town and Sugar Belle, as well as Big Mac; Starlight Glimmer is at least sort of friends with him, and Applejack is his middle sister who can easily take charge of a situation at a moment's notice. Either of these two would have easily been able to contribute more here than the CMC could, especially the CMC as they're being written HERE!
OK, so first up, they try to concoct a false peril for Sugar Belle by having Scootaloo feign stealing her saddlebag. Can I just say I've never liked this trope? Anyone willing to create a false, EMERGENCY situation to attract a girl's attention, well... that comes off as douchey... at best. At worst, it comes off as a little creepy even. Maybe even cowardly. Point is, how much do you really care about someone if your icebreaker is MANIPULATING them?! Anyways, it doesn't work, because once again Feather Bangs pops out of nowhere and intercepts (literally) Big Mac's save. How he does this, I don't know. Once again, there is no explanation for his seemingly just knowing when Big Mac is about to try to make a move, or why he gives a buck! He's just there, and the thing that makes Sugar Belle falling for this even dumber is that she could see plain as day that Big Mac was about to catch her saddlebag before he even did! SHE KNOWS HE INTERCEPTED BIG MAC'S SAVE AND STILL SEEMS INTO IT!!! WHY?!?!?!?! His douche baggery was just on full display for all to see!!! Oh wait, I know, sing it with me kids, LAZY WRITING!!!
So next, the CMC, HOLY CRAP----
D'awwwwwwwwwwwwwww, you're so cute!!! Who's a cute sweepy pony, WHO'S A CUTE SWEEPY PONY? YOU ARE! YES, YOU ARE!!!
Ahem, anyways, the CMC decide that the best thing for Big Mac to do is... kiss Sugar Belle awake because that's what fairy tale princes do???
So like a smart person, Big Mac says that that's creepy and nowhere near reflecting where they're at in their relationship- oh no, he goes along with it. Wait, what?
Uh, Big Mac...
Dude, seriously, stop!
Well, what did ya think was gonna happen you creepy dumbass!!!
OK, people, in a different show the sequence of screen shots I just showed you could EASILY be the start of a VERY different sequence of events in, say, a show like Law and Order: SVU! Let's put this in perspective. Kissing someone awake is... not exactly something that many people except for the closest of couples do, like, couples living together, and even then it's not something they do on a regular basis. But are Big Mac and Sugar Belle a couple at this point? NOPE!! They are (although having flirted quite heavily already) technically just business acquaintances and nothing more at this point in the show. So what he just tried to do? Yeah, I'm calling it, that's attempted sexual assault in a public space and this episode is too stupid to even realize it! I don't care that it doesn't work, the show does not understand HOW bad what he just tried to do is. Throughout the episode they keep mentioning that the love potion was a REALLY bad thing, but this? This is played for laughs, and frankly, this is a million times worse than the love potion was even if one considers it a magical roofie. The love potion was a bad idea from kids who don't understand what makes for a healthy relationship, but this is a grown ass adult who has actual romantic intentions for a pony who, at this point, does not return said intentions. He is attempting to kiss her without her prior knowledge in a public space without her consent. THAT. IS. ASSAULT!!! YOU DUMBASS WRITER!!!!!
So obviously Sugar Belle freaks out (because what the buck else would you do if a dude you kinda like but aren't in a relationship with was leering over you as you slept in a public space and about to kiss you without your knowing, I mean, REALLY GUYS!!), but then, who should show up but Douchey McDouchemane, I mean, Feather Bangs (gosh I hate that name... also his name doesn't really make much sense since he's not even a pegasus, what the buck). He offers her a random carriage ride, and she seems to happily accept; buck me, at this point she's giving him the same kind of eyes she was giving Big Mac earlier in the episode, so she seems to be pretty into him. I would be madder about her going along with his schtick, but frankly, he was the far less creepy one in this scene, and that's pretty badddddddddddddd.
So finally, the CMC decide that Big Mac should try to win her over with a love song. Granted, it's cliche but frankly it's a breath of fresh air (at least in theory) after the night terror we were just presented with in Mac's last disastrous attempt. And honestly the song isn't that bad at first. It's nothing special, but it's pretty sweet (aside from the whole sneaking into her store thing and closing the door while turning the lights off), and Sugar Belle seems to appreciate it too. But then Feather Bangs comes back and we get easily the worst scene in the whole episode (and possibly the worst songs we've ever heard in the entire show), because HE brought his own song as well and... well, it's a Bieber song. I don't know what else to tell you. It's the MLP version of a Bieber song, and not a good one, with PLENTY of suggestive lyrics and visuals (I don't care if they were played for laughs, it made me more than a bit uncomfortable at points). Even worse, the whole sequence turns into a pairing of dueling numbers, so basically we keep jumping back and forth from a clumsy, increasingly bad country song to a terrible pop song, and the two genres clash so badly that they just further amplify how bad it all is. It's like somebody split up a bad bro-country song by completely separating the pop from the country, and it resulted in an equally bad pop song and country song. Sugar Belle's not into any of it, and is most DEFINITELY not into Feather Bangs... wait, what? Yeah, this whole song she clearly seems miffed at Feather Bangs when in the very last scene she was eyeing him up and down like a kid with a brand new lollipop and I don't know what the buck is going on now! Was she ever into him? Based on her earlier reactions, she had to be!
Oh wait... oh you sons of bitches... LAZY WRITING STRIKES AGAIN!!! This is possibly the most egregious example of this in the whole episode. The only reason Feather Bangs is supposed to be here is because we're supposed to believe that he is a viable rival lover to Big Mac, vying for Sugar Belle's affection as much as he is, for most of the episode. The only way they're able to make us believe he has any chance as a rival is by showing Sugar Belle digging what he's doing, at least initially. But now that we're supposed to believe that she's really into Big Mac, not Feather Bangs, she is inexplicably showing NONE of the earlier interest she showed for Feather Bangs, even though he's basically doing the same s*** he was doing before, just on a bit of a bigger scale. Holy buck, that is AMAZING in its laziness! I mean, really. I don't even know what to say at this point other than... wow. Just wow. Characters flipping their behavior back and forth on a dime as easily as one would flick a light switch on and off. Buck me, that's lazy.
This whole scene was ear-and-eye cancer... like, all of it, I seriously feel less healthy for having watched it
So what more is there to say? After the "dueling songs" go disastrously, with Big Mac and Feather Bangs essentially destroying most of Sugar Belle's store, Big Mac and the CMC finally figure out what should have been a far easier lesson to teach, that showing someone you care about them in an especially special way means showing them that you know who they are and what they care about, and that you in turn care about them and what they care about. WHY WAS THIS SO HARD TO TEACH!!! So Big Mac makes her a new shelf, she loves it, they get together after some CMC shenanigans (involving, yet again, those bucking stupid NOT COSTUMES, WHY IS THIS A CRUCIAL PLOT DEVICE, IT'S NOT CLEVER?!?!?!), and they look really sweet and cute together. THE. BUCKING. END.
Oh wait, no it's not, because in the last 30 seconds we're supposed to feel sorry for Feather Bangs and hope that the CMC help him figure out how to talk to mares.
Uh uh, no way, you bastards don't get to pull that lazy, tired, "ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, he's not a bad guy, he's just misunderstood" trope in only 30 seconds when we have seen nothing redeemable about this twat since he was first introduced (if you want to call it that). I hate that lazy trope, and it's yet another perfect embodiment of the utter laziness that characterizes this whole bucking episode!!! Buck Feather Bangs and buck his lady problems, I hope every mare turns him down harder than a jackhammer chews up a sidewalk! So let me reiterate if it wasn't clear already...
People, this was trash. Hot, steaming, burning, wretched smelling trash. This was SO much worse than "MMMMystery on the Friendship Express" in every way possible. "MMMMystery on the Friendship Express" insults my intelligence, and the intelligence of any brony out there, BUT to its defense (and I never thought I'd be saying this) it is well aware that it is nothing but a throwaway episode. Nothing important happens in it, it is just an episode for the sake of having another episode, that's it! THIS was supposed to be a status quo changer, THIS was supposed to be a major development for a major, recurring supporting character! We have barely seen any of the characters in the show get into relationships or the show itself handle the topic of romantic relationships; I hope it largely stays that way, but I also always hoped that the show would address it to a certain extent, because I always thought that this show, as good as it is, would probably be able to handle romantic relationship subjects better than most kids shows can. I still believe that, even after this episode. Sugar Belle and Big Mac are honestly, as I said earlier, a cute couple, and I think they could be a really good couple going forward! Nothing about the pairing itself is what turned me off in this episode, in fact, that's where the tragedy of it lies.
This episode, for as bad as it is, feels like half of it IS good MLP. There are signs of the quality from MLP we've come to expect on a regular basis. The few genuinely funny lines in there (like Apple Bloom's "Quick, act like apples" line or Sugar Belle's "That's the whole town! It's just the one street" bit) are typical MLP fare, little details like Sugar Belle's reactions throughout the song numbers as well as the fact that Starlight's house has been replaced by a tree, the largely inoffensive beginning and ending, the three mares who keep fawning over Feather Bangs (the fawning itself is disgusting but they have fantastic character designs and are pretty entertaining to watch), these things work! Sugar Belle herself was honestly perfectly fine aside from when the script forced her to like what Feather Bangs was doing, besides that she was sweet, adorable, and her VA has the cutest voice! But at the end of the day I found myself and a friend agreeing with one another that the end of CheeriMac is the least of this episode's problems, and that should tell you a lot right there.
The problem is the good was in a jumbled mess with sooooooooooooooo much bad, there was no clear cut divide between the two and on top of that, this was a lot of bad in an episode that should have been incredibly easy to do right. What we got instead was patronizing to its audience, treating us as though we were too dumb to handle a more complex plot, and even worse it had no right to be patronizing because the episode was so much dumber than it thought it was! If someone just understood who these characters are, how they behave, this premise, even with the CMC involved in it, could have easily turned into a good to great episode! And that's why I keep referring to laziness as being at the core of what makes this episode a disaster, because I don't know how else to explain it. A first time writer for this show bucking up an episode this badly in a critically acclaimed show that is in its seventh season? Laziness, plain and simple. There is more than enough material for this writer to have watched to have gotten more than a clear understanding of who these character's are for the purposes of her own episode, and frankly, I just think she didn't bother to do her homework. The only other alternative is that she's just that bad of a writer, and I really hope that's not the case because if so, I don't know how she's still getting work. But for the time being, I'm chalking it up to unforgivable laziness, and for such a piss poor effort put into what should have been such an important episode, "Hard to Say Anything" gets an F---------------------- from me. It is not even in my book an episode of MLP, because it is unrecognizable as MLP. I would expect this level of quality from other shows that Ms. Wangberg has worked on (on their bad days), but for MLP, this is simply unacceptable. DHX, please, learn from this and don't ever let this person work on this beloved show ever again, much less on episodes that should be so important. In fact, don't ever assign first time show writers such important episodes ever again. Congratulations, "Hard to Say Anything," you are now my least favorite episode of MLP, and I hope it stays that way, because I shudder to think of what an episode would have to do to make me hate it more than I hated this one.
Buck me... that's all I got for ya this week everypony. Until next time (in a Celestia-willing better episode than this) this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off... to get a drink... or twenty!!! *cue dramatic exit to the bar*
When an episode drives Batbrony to get drunk dressed as Superman, you know it done bucked up