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Episode 78. “Simple Ways”: No Easy Path to Love

Sunny Fox

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Now, if y’all will excuse me, I have a hootenanny of a time to prepa-ah. Rarity

It’s nearly Ponyville Day anniversary time, and the Pony of Ceremonies is announced: Rarity! She has a plan for an elegant celebration, with a cider tasting and silent auction, a dance, and a fashion show. The Mane Six are admiring of her plan, but Rarity has a bit of an ulterior motive. She wants to impress Trenderhoof, the travel writer who will be covering the event, on whom she has a huge crush, and to whom she has built a little shrine.

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Even Norman Bates would be like, “Dude, that is creepy!”

Convincing Twilight to accompany her to the station for moral support in meeting her idol, Rarity is beside herself with anxiety, freaking out when she thinks he might not arrive. Then when he does, she is too nervous to actually greet him, and tries to hide under Twilight’s tail. Twilight solves that problem with a telekinetic shove, and Rarity manages to welcome Trenderhoof… who is a bit of self-absorbed twit, but not necessarily a bad pony.

As Rarity shows him around, he makes several condescending comments about the town, showing a casual arrogance that’s pretty grating. Rarity, however, still has hearts circling her head, and doesn’t notice. Finally, they get to Sweet Apple Acres, and while discussing the merits of the farm au naturel, begin to fall in love (Well, Trenderhoof does, since Rarity is already head over hooves for him)… until Trenderhoof notices Applejack bucking trees, and falls for her instead.

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I sincerely hope that “twanging” sound was Cupid’s bow :blink:

Spike tracks down Rarity to find her in full breakdown mode over losing Trenderhoof to Applejack. She seems to have totally forgotten what she knows about Spike’s crush on her, but it’s probably because she’s so focused on her own drama. She tearfully wonders why Trenderhoof is interested in Applejack instead of her, and finally concludes that the simple and hardworking ways of a country girl are what he sees in her.

Determined to beat Applejack at being Applejack, Rarity tries to do some of the chores around the farm, but has absolutely no idea how anything should be done, sitting on top of the plough as if she thinks it’s going to move by itself. Of course, when Applejack demonstrates the right way to do it (pulling it), it ends up making Trenderhoof even more admiring of her.

Rarity also tries a hoof at apple bucking while the other two watch, but her bucking is too much style and too little strength, and manages to knock down only one apple after an entire dance routine. She does look darling while she does it, though, especially in her presumably self-made work duds. Applejack delivers a rather subtle jab at her (“Your way sure is long on style...”) and excuses herself, clearly annoyed by both Trenderhoof’s fascination with her and Rarity’s attempts to win him over that are making it more difficult for her to finish her chores. When Trenderhoof asks Rarity if she thinks Applejack will agree to be his date to the celebration, she considers it the final straw, and storms off in a huff, leaving him looking rather bewildered.

Even though Applejack tries to assure Rarity that she isn’t interested in Trenderhoof, Rarity is too jealous to listen, and vows to prove herself as country as Applejack to win him back. She decides do this by adopting an entirely different persona, and changes her plans for the celebration from “Small Town Chic” to the title drop for this episode, “Simple Ways”. She also dresses up in country clothes, including a straw hat, unkempt mane and droopy drawers, and speaks in a noticeably fake Southern drawl that she can’t keep up when her concentration wavers. Applejack finds it pretty hilarious, at first, but less so when Rarity refuses to listen to her and go back to her normal self. She leaves, declaring that she has to set up a hootenanny of a time, infuriating Applejack with her stubbornness (like she has room to talk about being stubborn! )

As Rarity organizes a less-than-her-usual-standard fashion show, a new model shows up: Apple Jewel. It is, of course, Applejack, showing that she has not forgotten the time she spent in Manehatten as a filly. Her mane is done up, she’s wearing an evening gown, and even some sparkling jewels. Even her accent, while still country, is nobler than usual. It sounds like much more natural a shift than Rarity’s attempt at changing her accent. And don’t forget the duck-face!

The two proceed to repeat the conversation from a little earlier, but with their positions reversed. Applejack, still hoping to show Rarity how silly she is acting, gives a little smile and starts acting out an exaggerated version of Rarity herself. Rarity returns fire with a parody of her own, and gets steadily more unhinged as the scene proceeds. Eventually, she throws herself into the pig pens, loudly declaring her love for mud…

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Except mud that lands on expensive evening gowns, obviously.

This fashion disaster is enough to get Rarity acting like her old self, and she finally realizes how far wrong she has gone. She thanks Applejack for knowing her better than she knows herself, and compliments her on her new look. Applejack sheepishly admits that it’s actually one of Rarity’s gowns, horrifying Rarity, who gets Spike to go find some detergent, STAT! At this point, Trenderhoof appears in his own set of dungarees, saying he wants to give up his life as most interesting pony in Equestria and live on the farm. Applejack flat out tells him she doesn’t want him on her farm, finally making him understand that she doesn’t return his feelings. Rarity convinces him that he should continue to be a travel writer, and that he shouldn’t change himself to suit somepony else’s expectations… if somepony won’t accept you for who you are, it’s their problem, not yours. She takes her own words to heart, realizing that she should not change herself to suit Trenderhoof.

With the lesson learned, Rarity proceeds to re-reorganize the plans back to her original vision, and the celebration goes off without a hitch. Trenderhoof asks Granny Smith to dance, showing that he’s come to terms with Applejack’s decision. He even ends up giving Rarity a rose at her fashion show!

 

Thoughts on the Episode

This episode is a mixed bag for me. I was entertained by Rarity acting all country, and by Applejack’s attempt to balance out the situation by acting… well, like Rarity. She really cleans up nicely, and Rarity really dirties up nicely. It was fun to see both Applejack and Rarity parodying each other, and Rarity declaring “I LOVE BEIN’ COVERED IN MUD!” and leaping into the pig pen was a sight to behold.

On the other hoof, it feels like this episode was designed to highlight every flaw Rarity has, and it recycles the plot from Season 1’s “Green Isn’t Your Color”. Something Rarity really wants for herself ends up going to one of her friends instead, and her green-eyed monster takes over.

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Not that green-eyed monster, I meant Rarity!

In this case, it’s the affections of Trenderhoof, rather than success and fame, but it’s pretty much something we’ve seen before. If anything, it’s worse, because she at no point tries to be happy for Applejack, it’s jealousy all the way.

So we have Rarity’s obsession with Trenderhoof to the point of Stalker with a Crush, jealousy, manipulation of Spike when she isn’t completely ignoring the feelings she knows he has for her, changing her personality to suit somepony else, being angry and spiteful to Applejack over something Applejack can’t control and in fact doesn’t want, and selfishly focusing on her own problem to the point of risking the town’s reputation. Of course, these are all qualities we’ve seen before in Rarity, but in this case they’re all together, and there isn’t even justification for her bad behaviour as there was in “Rarity Takes Manehatten”.

Not to mention her rather out of character moments when she is terrified of meeting Trenderhoof at the station, to the point where she tries to hide behind Twilight. This is the same problem that arose in “Daring Don’t”, and it’s as annoying to see Rarity do it as it was to see Rainbow Dash do it.

The rest of the Mane Six (apart from Twilight) are pretty much unnecessary to the episode, having few lines and not really contributing anything to the plot. Pinkie was again made into a caricature of herself, being just there for gags. I’m not sure RD even had a single line that wasn’t a collective “ooh” or “ahh”, and Fluttershy had only one that I remember.

Trenderhoof himself is a bit of tool, but he clearly means well, and is innocently unaware of quite how condescending he sounds. Being a character we’re unlikely to see again, he’s pretty two-dimensional, but I didn’t have much of a problem with him being there. He’s the necessary Apple of Discord for this episode, if you will, and really doesn’t need to be more than that. He can’t sing or rhyme, though.

There are two saving graces in this episode. One is Tabitha St. Germain’s performance. She had to keep switching from Rarity’s eggs-hajj-erated cou-untreee drah-aal to Rarity’s usual Mid-Atlantic accent, and she does it impressively well.

The second is Apple Jewel, the elegantly-coiffed, evening-gown-wearing, southern nobility alter-ego of Applejack, the counter-point to Rarity in country getup. So now Pinkie has Pinkamena, Rarity has Droopy Drawers, Fluttershy has Flutterbitch/Flutterbat and Applejack has Apple Jewel. Just Rainbow and Twilight need to get an alternative personality, and we’d have the whole set!

 

Highlights

Apple Jewel strutting her stuff, showing off her plot.

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And her duck-face!

“I LOVE BEIN’ COVERED IN MUD!”

 

Pros: Funny dialogue and situations; Apple Jewel; Droopy Drawers; Good voice acting all around.

Cons: Rarity shows off many of her flaws; Pinkie is a flat out waste of running time; Trenderhoof is a bit underwhelming; Plot is rehashed.

 

Final Rating
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 Sunny Side up!



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