Applejack is headed out for a week to the Equestrian Rodeo Games being held in Canterlot. Being the most winningest pony in Ponyville history, she plans to win blue ribbons in all the events and agrees to donate in advance all of the prize money she wins toward fixing the City Hall Gazebo. However, after a week passes, all that Ponyville gets is a telegram saying Applejack isn’t coming home and the money will be sent via the mail. The girls head to Canterlot and manage to track her down to Dodge Junction, where they find Applejack strangely working for a cherry farmer pony named Cherry Jubilee. When they ask her why she isn’t coming back and what she’s doing there, she’s both evasive and hostilely refuses to answer. Eventually, to avoid telling the truth, she gets in a stagecoach chase in an attempt to outrun the girls. Rainbow Dash manages to tackle her and, on doing so, knocks a great deal of ribbons from the rodeo out of her saddlebags…but none of them are blue. She admits she didn’t win first place in a single event and was so ashamed that she couldn’t come home with any prize money she refused to come home. The girls, however, convince her that they don’t care about her winning or losing and just want her back. When Applejack returns to Ponyville, she writes to Celestia about not running from your problems and “running to your friends” instead.
Ok…this is the most “infamous” episode in Season Two if not the entire series, so before I get into the actual episode…I’ll have the discussion right here.
Derpy had been the most popular “background pony” for a while. In a way, she represented the entire fandom from its inception. She appeared wall-eyed in the very first episode, and the fans wanted to see more of that…so one could argue she was the first fandom icon that translated into the show. She was a symbol of bronies themselves. So, naturally, when this episode aired for the first time and she was not only moved into the foreground, not only given a voice, but actually had Rainbow Dash yell: “Careful, Derpy!”…that was epic. She not only was being more prominent, but she was actually given the very name the fans had given her. It was a major day both for fans as well as the show.
Only, by Hasbro’s own admission, “about ten” stupid (and yes, they WERE stupid, there’s no other word for them) parents didn’t see things that way.
I know full well those people who called in and complained about Derpy being an attempt to make fun of those with intellectual disabilities didn’t know jack sh’t about Derpy and they DEFINITELY never watched the show, because they would have said something a lot sooner in earlier episodes. The long and short is…they complained…and as a result, Derpy nearly left the show forever. She would continue to appear this season, and then would vanish almost completely until nearly halfway through Season Four. What few appearances she did make in Season Three you pretty much would have to know “where to look” or would have to slow down the episode to see. As for this episode, it was edited to make Derpy less “stupid-looking” and “more intelligent sounding”.
The fans, understandably, were enraged. Petitions…”Save Derpy” campaigns…the works. This wasn’t just about making a stand against a PC crowd…although that should have been ample, because the PCness has gone on long enough. First of all, it’s a hypocracy. People “pick and choose” what gets to be PC and what doesn’t, so it might be better to not have it at all. Second, there’s no reason a majority of people…including the fan base that served as she show’s “bread and butter”…should be forced to bow to the whims of ten anal-retentive louts.
Yet the true “slap in the face” was that Derpy WAS. WHAT. THE. FANS. WANTED. She was practically a fan-creation herself from the fanbase of the show. And now that she finally had a chance to shine only to be doused by people who honestly had nothing better to do than complain about a damn cartoon…that stung. It made fans wonder just how much of the show really was its own “domain” and “phenomenon” or if, at the end of the day, it was just a “well-written” plug at toy merchandise.
Like I said, Derpy finally “returned” in Season Four, and the way she returned made it obvious that the show writers knew the fans wanted her back…but she’s mute again and you can bet she’ll never be named again. I don’t think the fans will ever fully trust the show again either.
…It’s not good.
It doesn’t work so much as the other “dramatic” episodes did this season. While there are some funny parts in it (Torture by Pinkie Pie…), it’s just a bit too close to pushing the envelope of being OOC. Applejack goes from being evasive to almost being mean and belligerent in this one, and I’m never a big fan of episodes that are mostly the girls arguing with one another. There isn’t enough humor for this to be a non-dramatic episode…and there isn’t enough drama to merit it being an engaging episode. It just…falls flat.
Yet the worse part was the confused moral…one of the worst in the series. The whole episode was supposed to be about the value of just knowing a friend is alright and is “present”…that it doesn’t matter if they succeed or fail so long as they’re “there”, because they’re intrinsic enough to be important on their own. And then what do they do? They completely forget about Pinkie Pie and Rarity. Not just ditched…abandoned and forgotten. Implying that Applejack is “more important” than them. That’s one of the dumber lessons I’ve ever seen come out from the show.
So, even with the Derpy controversy taken out of the equation, this episode is just not good any way you look at it.
The song playing at the opening is similar to the opening theme to “Bonanza”. A similar song occurred in Season One.
The first and (…sniffle…) only time Derpy has spoken.
The “cherry-sorting” scene is similar to an infamous scene from “I Love Lucy” involving Lucy working in a candy factory.
Applejack did lie. Forget it being a half-truth… She told the girls she would tell them what happened after breakfast knowing full well she wasn’t going to go to breakfast, knowing the girls would lay off of her if she said to wait until tomorrow’s breakfast, and told them this anyway with the intent of getting out of telling them the truth rather than setting a condition she planned to honor. Yeah…that’s a lie. That’s enough to make me frown at her supposed “honesty”.
Pinkie Pie’s voice goes “demonic” when she rages at Applejack “breaking a Pinkie-Promise”.
“I’ve got to get the heck outta Dodge.” is a parody of a famous Western movie line.
Although Rainbow Dash is considered the one to be more obsessed with winning and success…Applejack is much the same if not worse. Rainbow Dash has more of an inferiority complex…she secretly thinks she’s a failure if she doesn’t look “cool”. Applejack, on the other hand, has more of a superiority complex…a great deal of pride and even a tad of egotism that she is the best, and can’t deal with it when she’s forced to admit she isn’t. This episode brings that more to light, although we began to see it as early as “Applebuck Season”.
2 Stars out of 5