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Old 11-12-2014, 11:40 AM   #1958
Nebby. Back into the bag.
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Season 4 Episode 08:

Spoiler: show
"Oh great: a Rarity episode. "

Rarity's my least favorite of the Mane Six, but every time she gets an episode to herself I at least try to go into it open-minded. But the problem is that the very attributes about Rarity that make me dislike her so much are the things that her episodes tend to focus on or play up. So yeah ... I didn't much care for this episode.

There was one thing the episode hinted at at the very end that they ended up not going for and I felt was a huge missed opportunity. And that was having Rarity remain in Manehattan for an indeterminate amount of time (in-universe it could be a month or more, but for us it could translate to as few as two episodes or as many as the entire rest of the season/series). The episode suggested that she'd be working for a friend to whom she was indebted. And that she had just found herself a new apprentice in Coco Pommel. This episode could have been so much more if Coco had been our first major pony introduction to the cast of characters since Cadence and Shining Armor back in Season 2. It would have been great to have seen Rarity working with someone else, furthering her career, etc. Instead, she goes back to Ponyville with her friends, dumps her favor on Coco (who thankfully is happy to do it, but still), and dumps Coco on her friend to whom she'd promised to do the favor herself. It's like ... ugh.

The episode wasn't helped imo by basing itself around the tired tale of how big city folk are cold, impersonal, unwilling to do you favors, and above all else ready to take advantage of you at a moment's notice. That the big city is a "dog eat dog world" and that if you don't want to get chewed up and spit back out you'll have to join with the big dogs and be a fierce nasty git yourself. Such plots are borderline patronizing to anyone who's ever moved from the country to the city, and for the rest of us they're not only things we can't relate to in our personal lives but that we've seen a hundred billion times in other stories.

Oh: and the song sucked too.

Season 4 Episode 09:

Spoiler: show
This was a fantastic episode. What a wonderful way to wash the bad taste of S4E08 out of my mouth. I'm not normally a fan of either Pinkie Pie or Applejack, but this episode played to their strengths in superb fashion. It was well-animated (as far as MLP:FiM goes), full of fun and flavor, and best of all ...

That song! "Apples to the Core" was probably the best song we've had this season. The lyrics, as always, are pretty weak in places while respectable in others. Ingram struggles to find rhymes that work and are accessible to a younger audience, and the consequence is that many of his songs are burdened by silly (or even nonsense) segments with pretty embarrassingly forced rhymes. Still, that's a problem typical of all of his songs, and that hasn't kept some of them from being keepers. "Apples to the Core" joins the likes of "Winter Wrap-Up" and "At the Gala" as not only one of my personal favorites in the series but as one of the objectively () greatest numbers yet.

I was a little surprised by how negatively they portrayed Golden Goldie Delicious. O_o We've heard about her so many times in passing, iirc, and to finally see her here only to discover that she's a crazy cat lady living in squalor and solitude was just ... well, it was really sad.

Pinkie was pretty much in top form for this episode. Every best part of her character shone through here. It really made her deserving of Applejack's declaration in the end that, genealogy or no genealogy, Pinkie is a part of the Apple family from now on.

It remains to be seen whether Pinkie is just happy to be a part of as many families as possible or whether she specifically is unhappy with her own family. I liked that the episode didn't explore this just yet, not only because it'd put a bit of a damper on an otherwise fun and happy episode but because it saves room for future exploration in a separate episode.

All in all, this episode was great. I didn't think I'd like it at the beginning, but it sure did prove me wrong.

Season 4 Episode 10:

Spoiler: show
This was an okay episode. If S4E09 displayed the best attributes of Pinkie Pie and Applejack, this episode displayed some of the worst out of Rainbow Dash. She seems to be a magnet for these kinds of episodes -- "Rainbow Dash places inferior friends or acquaintances before her superior, truer friends; eventually she comes to her senses and sets her priorities straight" -- and I think that makes a lot of people in the fandom dislike her. I know it makes it tough for me to like her as well. But my bigger complaint at this point is really with how tired this plot is. How many times have we seen Rainbow Dash doing things like this already? The only specific one that comes to mind is the early Season 1 episode with Gilda the Griffon but I am like 99% certain we've seen this same plot at least two other times with Rainbow. No more, writers. Please.

My other big complaint with the episode was the Wonderbolts. Two sub-complaints:

First, I dislike that the Wonderbolts have been made out to be such immoral assholes. Earlier episodes kind of flirted with this idea (in trying to justify why Rainbow Dash could more easily accept choosing her true friends over the Wonderbolts) but I don't remember them ever going as far as this episode did to depict them as downright evil immoral. This ruins the Wonderbolts for me. And it should ruin them for Dash as well. Why should she look up to them as role models when they're such terrible people?

Second, I dislike that the Wonderbolts are even heroes for Dash at this point. Part of it is what I just finished saying, but a much bigger part of it has to do with Daring Do. Before Daring Do was confirmed to be real, we could distinguish between IRL role models and fictional heroes. Rainbow worshiped Daring and adored her books, but Daring Do wasn't real: you couldn't really be a tomb raider who defied crazy-scary death traps around every corner 24/7 the way Daring Do does. Maybe the fictional Daring might have inspired Rainbow to pursue a career in archeology, but we can as easily accept a Wonderbolt Dash who loves Daring Do books as we can imagine an F-15 ace fighter pilot who loves the Indiana Jones films. But the moment you went and made Daring Do real, you completely squashed any reason Rainbow Dash should have for still wanting to be a Wonderbolt. Who the fuck wants to be a Wonderbolt -- ponies that merely fly fast in spandex -- when you could be a tomb raider like Daring Do!? Rainbow Dash gets a taste of helping Daring Do out, her personal hero, and she loves it. And Daring, for her part, insists that she "works alone " but warms up to Dash in the end. Is it not beyond the realm of expectations that Daring Do might solicit Dash's assistance as a sidekick? Or that she might want to train her as an apprentice? Etc, etc? And should that opportunity come a-knocking, should Rainbow Dash not take it? Should we seriously expect her to remain a boring Wonderbolt when she could go and become Daring Do No.2? This is my point: I just can't take the Wonderbolts seriously any more as a long-term career goal for Rainbow Dash. They've been so utterly eclipsed by Daring Do, who has been canonically rendered real by S4E04, that the idea of Rainbow's dream being to become a Wonderbolt is just laughable at this point. She's faster than they are. She's more moral than they are. And they don't do anything special besides fly really fast. The Wonderbolts have become this series' MENSA, and Rainbow is the genius with an IQ of 230. She doesn't need their validation. She already knows she's fast. So why settle for a career as "validated fast flyer" when she could aim so much higher and has shown an interest in said heights?

All of these complaints aside, the episode was fine. There wasn't much that was excellent in between the complaints, but there was plenty of decent stuff. The muscular pony got a name (if he didn't already have one) and a ton of screen time. Derpy Hooves had a fun cameo. (Although ... the first time she was silent was okay, but the second time was just plain awkward. I understand why they're doing it, but still.) And there was some overarching plot references to the Equestria Games.

One last thing. This isn't so much a complaint as a slightly annoyed question. I'm wondering why Rainbow Dash claims that Ponyville is her home rather than Cloudsdale. When did that happen? I thought that all of the pegasi who lived in the vicinity of Ponyville lived in Cloudsdale with the solitary exception of Fluttershy (and later, without her residence being shown, Scootaloo). Even the musclehead, I had thought, lived in Cloudsdale. But especially Rainbow Dash! We've specifically seen her home in Cloudsdale before. Has this suddenly been retconned or am I just forgetting something? Looking it up on the Wiki, I see that they say that she lives in a "cloudominium" above Ponyville. But I thought that the entire cloud-based residential area above Ponyville was Cloudsdale. That Fluttershy fell out of the sky specifically from Cloudsdale to Ponyville. That Cloudsdale is basically to the sky what Ponyville is to the ground. I guess I'm wrong? That's okay if I am. I'm just a little confused/annoyed because I could've sworn that Rainbow Dash lived in Cloudsdale ... especially since everything we ever see her doing with her friends up in the sky takes place in that city. Well, whatever.
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