The Mane Six and Spike are dropping off one of Applejack’s trees to the Western-themed settlement of “Appleloosa” and her cousin, Braeburn. However, during the trip, they are attacked by a group of bison who make off with the tree and (by accident) Spike, who was sleeping in the caboose where the tree was. Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie go after him while the others head on to Appleloosa. Once there, Applejack and her group learn that the settlers built the apple orchard they depend on for food in the only good land in the area, but the bison want it torn down. As for Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Spike, they find the bison are more good-natured than they appear and are angry that the settlers built an orchard on their sacred stampeding grounds without asking for permission. Both sides sway Applejack and Rainbow Dash to their respective causes, and the two end up escalating tensions, as does Pinkie Pie with her ill-fated attempt to make a reconciliation song, and in the end the bison say they will stampede the orchard and the town tomorrow at high noon. The Mane Six’s attempts to get a compromise fall on deaf ears, and the next day the town goes into a chaotic battle. During the fight, the chief of the bison gets hit in the face with an apple pie and ends up eating a bite by mistake. He likes the taste so much that he agrees if they remove enough of the trees for them to have a path through the orchard (as well as give them a share of the apple crop made into pies), the trees can stay. Twilight Sparkle writes a letter to Princess Celestia about how even the worst enemies can become friends and “you’ve got to share; you’ve got to care”…which Pinkie Pie protests she said first.
This is, in my opinion, possibly the worst episode of the entire series if you “read into it”. If you take it at face value, though, it’s alright.
In terms of the girls themselves, it’s spot on. There’s some great humor toward the beginning of the episode, Pinkie Pie is her normal crazy self, and the “Fluttershy is not a tree” bit is one of the best comedy dialogues on the show. Yet the show rapidly begins to move away from the girls following the appearance of Little Strongheart, until they’re almost “observers” of the action between the Appleloosans and the bison(buffalo).
If you ask me, the makers of the show should never have taken on such a controversial topic. This is one even kids will understand because at an early age I started to learn about what was, quite honestly, the genocide of Native Americans to make room for ever-expanding American settlers who pretty much already saw all the land in the country as theirs…only needing to get rid of the “bothersome locals”. Now, there are many conflicts in the world where you could argue both sides have a much cleaner “claim” to land or in a situation where you can’t really say one is “right”, but this one is far more “hot” and biased to one side. The thing is the more clearly you have a situation where neither party is “in the right”, the more long-lasting it is and the less prone it is to a “pat” answer such as was in this episode.
Yet what makes it far worse in this episode was how it was resolved. First off, I know they can’t very well use guns and arrows in this episode without making things Y7, but I’m still a bit confused at how “pie-throwing” could be a weapon when pie fights are clearly gags and have always been used as such. Perhaps it was used to lighten the mood… Yet the main point is that when the chief reconsidered because he got a chance to eat some of the pie and actually seemed to love it or even be enamored with it was a massive hot-button. One of the leading controversies with how American settlers treated Native Americans was by bribing them with whiskey and other liquors. To this day, alcoholism is rampant among Native Americans and is considered one of the contributing factors that led to their decline as a people. So…by creating an episode where the plot is resolved by the bison essentially “selling out” their tradition and culture for a product the settlers gave them…that’s rather overwhelming. Even if you don’t read that much into it, however, it seemed to have been an “easy fix” that was thrown in as a deus ex machina. On a show like this, you probably need one or two of those…but it makes more sense to never write an episode where you have to degenerate to that.
In short, this episode is “problematic” due to the speedy resolution and lack of Mane Six in the second half if you don’t look too much into it…and if you do look into it it’s practically insulting. Not a good combination.
The first appearance of a train on the show. Although in this first appearance the train is pulled by a team of conductor ponies, pretty soon the writers would change it so that steam engines were allowed in this “universe” and trains would run themselves.
For non-American fans, this episode is obviously a takeoff on the tension between American western settlers and the Native Americans.
The whole “Fluttershy is not a tree” bit is hilarious, but as a nitpick, all of the girls were gathered on one side of Spike and Rarity before it began, so it doesn’t make much sense that they end up gathered around the two. Also, “Huffy the Magic Dragon” is a play on “Puff the Magic Dragon”, a popular folk song.
The popular fansong made from show edits, “Fluttershy’s Lament”, got inspiration from this episode, although the majority of clips from the video of it come from “Stare Master”.
Bison(Buffalo) are introduced as another sentient race in this episode…and I’m personally a bit disappointed they didn’t show up again. Fanart of Little Strongheart is rather rare.
“You Gotta Share; You Gotta Care” isn’t one of the more noteworthy songs… In fact, it’s considered so mediocre even the characters agree they hate it. 😛
The anvil in a haystack is a classic Looney Tunes gag. In an episode where Bugs Bunny was a matador and a bull was charging him, he put out the red cape and the bull ran into it and knocked himself senseless because an anvil was concealed behind it. As another Looney Tunes gag, Pinkie Pie gets in a last comment on the closing “lens” at the end.
2.5 Stars out of 5