Journal Entry: Sat Mar 8, 2014, 9:19 AM
It's been quite some time since an episode has focused on Apple Bloom. Usually it's been either the entire Cutie Mark Crusaders or Scootaloo, not that I have an issue with it. The last Apple Bloom episode was way back in season 2 with Family Appreciation Day. Though, if you want to say, to a lesser extent, One Bad Apple was also pretty focused on the farmer filly as well.
Now what makes this episode intriguing right from the beginning is the fact that we got ourselves a new writer to the MLP Team: Scott Sonneborn. He's had quite a number of shows under his belt that he's written for. Celebrity Death Match, Voltron Force, Slugterra, Undergrads, and, two of my favorite shows, Generator Rex and Beavis and Butthead. However, he has written for Skunk Fu! as well, which was, to me, a boring mess of a show that was repetitive, very generic, and the characters were lifeless.
I'm getting off topic though. Now, how do you go from writing stuff like The Great Cornholio to suddenly writing about ponies? The big question though is how well does Sonneborn make the transition from writing mature shows to writing one for kids? Well you're all here to read the review, so let's begin and see.
Our story begins in Sweet Apple Acres, where the Cutie Mark Crusaders are waiting outside a room. The Apple Family is talking silently while they all wait, but Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle say that no matter what happens, they'll be there for her. The family does come out and say that they'll allow Apple Bloom to stay home alone while they rest are out of town. The CMC pretend to be mature about it, but once they leave, they cheer in happiness.
We cut to outside the barn, where the three Apple siblings are loading up a mobile pie cart. It turns out that Applejack and Big Macintosh are headed to a town to set up shop, and Granny Smith is headed to see Aunt Apple Pie. Applejack kind of lets out that she only allowed Apple Bloom to stay alone because of how far the town is. However, she saves herself when she tells her little sister that she takes her job as big sister very seriously.
Now I have a bit of a problem right here already. Now while I appreciate Applejack looking out for Apple Bloom and making sure she's safe, we've seen the latter go out on her own before. She's done stuff without being constantly supervised like at the CMC Clubhouse, and even went to Zecora's on her own at one point. Also, need I remind you all of the way Applejack acted in Ponyville Confidential, when she refused to listen to her sister's pleas? Instead, her and Big Mac told her to go away? Yeah, real good big sister job there. And no, don't tell me it's because they were mad at her, they shouldn't have acted like that regardless. I blame this on bad writing(Seriously Larson, what were you thinking?).
Anyway, back on topic, after giving a list of reminders, they all take off, much to the filly's delight. While on the road Applejack's fears over leaving her sister behind get the best of her and finds a way to go back home while Big Mac goes on. Back at the farm, Apple Bloom is busy doing the last bit of chores like keeping the stove warm and seeing that the bows and hats closet is full, which turns out to be fully of Applejack's hat and Apple Bloom's bows. I guess there goes the canon that the hat once belonged to AJ's dad.
Once she's finally done, Apple Bloom says she can do whatever she wants like listen to music, read a book(When did the Apple Family ever look down on reading?), and randomly stand on a table. Applejack then comes in, causing the filly to fall down in surprise and cause a huge mess. Applejack looks around and sees how many potential hazards there are for her sister like the spilled jam and some sharp objects. Realizing she can't leave her alone without her getting hurt, Applejack stays behind to watch over Apple Bloom, much to the filly's irritation.
Applejack is going around Sweet Apple Acres, looking for Apple Bloom, while the latter is hiding from her. However, she finds her sister and tells her again that she'll always be there for her. Apple Bloom tries to prove she can take care of herself by doing various chores, but her big sister goes overboard with safety like putting a pillow on the rake, a net over the trees to catch apples, baby proofing a the house, and constantly puts a helmet on her little sister.
It gets so bad that Apple Bloom calls over Sweetie and Scootaloo again to discuss about what to do. During the conversation, Apple Bloom sees the pie stand outside and decides to go deliver them herself. Scootaloo comes up with a plan to keep Applejack distracted. She and Sweetie will take turns sleeping in bed whenever Applejack comes in to check on Apple Bloom. They all go along with a plan and just as we are about to get a song, Scootaloo hears Applejack again and says there's no time for a song. As much as I like a good CMC song, just hearing that bit of 4th wall breaking cracked me up. Very clever writing right there.
Sweetie is the first to pretend to sleep, but Applejack keeps barging in every five seconds to check on her. Eventually, Sweetie falls asleep from having to constantly stay in bed and Scootaloo is left in the closet. Applejack checks on her again and sees how peaceful she is. She considers deciding to leave her little sister alone after all, causing Scootaloo, who was listening in, to get all excited and blow the ruse. Applejack, realizing she's been fooled, looks for Apple Bloom, but when she's told that she went to go deliver the pies, she says that the route is very dangerous.
Applejack tells the others she's having Rarity come over to watch Scootaloo and Sweetie. She asks them if she brought stuff like fireproof boots or ricotta cheese. We the cut then to . . . Tartarus' swamp? Seriously, fire everywhere, swampy environment? This is like being on the shores of Tartarus or something. I guess this is the Pie Delivery from Tartarus. Apple Bloom is trying to make her way through, but she's cornered by what looks like a weird version of a Chimera. It's got the body, and head, of a tiger, head of a mountain goat, and the snake is the tail. Not to mention they're all sisters as well(The tiger sounds way too masculine to be a girl though. Who knows what that's all about?). They all say they haven't eaten for days and actually want to eat the pies. Who knew the creatures of Equestria loved pie that much?
Apple Bloom refuses to, but the chimera doesn't take no for an answer and chases her down. The filly tries to get away, but loses the cart and the creature is about ready to finish her off. Apple Bloom tangles them up by having the snake tail tie them up, kind of like a Snowspeeder taking out an AT-AT. She gets the cart back and pushes it up a hill, but it goes downhill on the opposite side and loses it. The chimera then returns and is upset to know the pies are lost. The tiger head says to Apple Bloom how much of a pain it is to have a sister hovering over her. Very ironic there. The goat head takes charge and decides to eat Apple Bloom.
The filly cries out that she wants her sister, who shows up with some black boots on a backpack of stuff. Though, I have to say, those boots look more like black socks to me. It's a weird design for boots if you ask me. Anyway, Applejack uses the stuff she mentioned earlier to defeat the chimera. A flute to put the snake to sleep, a chair to put in the tiger's mouth, and ricotta cheese to please the goat. Once the creature is defeated, Applejack scolds Apple Bloom about how she needed to be there, but the filly goes off and pulls out the cart. Applejack is very impressed by this and says that she doesn't need anypony to watch over her after all.
We then cut to a new town. It turns out this town was none other then Hollow Shades. If you've seen the map of Equestria, you should see that this town looks very similar to that on the map. Sure the town seems to be full of redneck ponies, but it's always good to see a new part of Equestria revealed in the show. The town's ponies are happy about the pies.
We then go back to Applejack, who scolds Apple Bloom for doing such a crazy stunt like this. She does say that the next time they all go out on their own, she would be fine with leaving her sister alone. She tells her little sister that she did get carried away and apologizes for her actions. Apple Bloom accepts it, and so the story ends with them hugging and the screen panning to a very beautiful night sky.
In terms of this episode, I have to say it was really well pulled off, despite the old plot of little sibling being smothered by big sibling. Sonneborn does a really good job with the characters in this episode and, to me, made the transistion very well in to the show. What makes the episode so solid is that it combined two of my favorite things I like to see in the show; a new creature and a new town. It's always good to see new stuff in Equestria like this and shows how much effort the team puts in bringing new stuff to the table.
In terms of humor, I got to say that, despite the fact that Applejack has faced great danger and doesn't show much fear, her antics in this episode did get quite a number of laughs from me. Sure, some of them felt tacked on, but they were pretty funny. The chimera fighting with itself was also a little funny, but the one highlight for me in this episode was how Scootaloo broke the 4th wall and told Apple Bloom there's no time for a song. I guess she's taking lessons from Pinkie now.
The entire plot, while feeling a bit recycled from other shows, does add in some new twists like I mentioned before. Showing a new town, new creature, and some really good humor spiced things up for me. This is how you should take an already used premise and execute it well.
Now despite my praises for the episode, I naturally have some problems with this episode.
For one thing, I already mentioned how Applejack let Apple Bloom do anything on her own before this episode. As I said, she's gone to Zecora's, in the Everfree Forest, hanged out with her friends, and been in the CMC Clubhouse alone. So, to me, this concept feels very tacked on to me. It's like it was just there for the sake of being there only. If Applejack cares about her sister, then why did she act so cold, distant, and told her to go away, like in Ponyville Confidential? That just raises a lot of questions.
Secondly, what happened to Big Macintosh? If he was going to the same town, there where is he then? Did he get lost? Did he not want to wait for Applejack? He just disappears for some reason with no explanation. He doesn't even make a cameo at the end, he's just gone. I suppose you can say he did his delivery and went home, but wouldn't he have run into Applejack and Apple Bloom while on the way home? It kind of feels unresolved to me.
Regardless though, I found this episode to be superb in many ways. The plot, while feeling predictable, does keep it fresh, we see a new monster, a new town, the jokes were really funny, and it did have some cute moments. It's one of my favorite episodes of the season and credit to Scott Sonneborn for doing such a fantastic job for his first episode. It may have some issues, but it's possibly my favorite Apple Bloom episode of the entire series.
Join me next time as Pinkie Pie meets her sister, with Josh Haber writing the entire episode.
FINAL SCORE: 9.5/10
As usual, discuss the episode away.
Listening to: Nothing
Playing: Borderlands 2