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Synopsis:

Applejack is enraged to get a citation for her barn being too high one morning, and sets out to City Hall to argue it. After over an hour at the front desk making no headway with the city clerk and getting progressively more enraged, Mayor Mare walks in on Applejack and personally hears her complaint, then offers to take care of it for her if she follows her. However, she only leads her through more inane and pointless bureaucracy throughout City Hall that gets very little done. After getting more upset about the whole thing and complaining about how inefficient and mixed-up everything is, the mayor changes her offer; saying she’ll take care of the citation if she agrees to help her out that day. Applejack goes about and soon makes short work of a number of city problems through easy decisions, beginning to think running the city would be easy from her perspective. However, at that point, a mysterious force (Sweetie Belle having done some sort of magical mistake that is never explained but is reminiscent of “The Cutie Pox”) begins to turn everypony in town into produce. Applejack is too stunned and confused to know what to do on seeing her friends already turned into fruits and vegetables, but the mayor takes charge and rallies the bureaucracy; and the conflict is soon handled. On seeing this, Applejack apologizes for her comments on how the city was handled. The mayor ends up telling her that when she first ran for office, she believed she “knew everything” about how to make the city work and ran on that platform, and in the end lost badly in spite of wanting to make the city a better place. She realized she hadn’t really listened to the concerns of the constituents, and after running a second campaign where she was more community-centered she won the election. After that, she hands Applejack the revoked citation, showing she could have corrected it all along but wanted to show Applejack city hall…revealing what got her into politics in the first place was a similar situation’s to Applejack and her desire to make the city run better. She alludes that Applejack would make a good mayor herself, but says if she ever wants to run to make sure she’s “retired first”.

Review:

Talk about the mother of all muddled morals. I don’t think I’ve ever run into a storyline anywhere that actually encouraged government ineptitude and bureaucracy.

Trying to focus on the good for starters this time… Applejack is in character and, in an interesting turn, the comic authors decided to use a character who’s practically a glorified background pony herself: Mayor Mare. Very little has ever been seen or heard from the “head of state” of Ponyville. In fact, usually in the show she’s only there for speeches at big events. This only got worse for her in Seasons Four and Five as anyone with a problem of more urban significance turns to Princess Twilight Sparkle. And since Hasbro doesn’t look to be doing anything with her soon, that gave IDW leeway to do what they want with her character. And, for the most part, it’s alright. Kind of what I expected so it wasn’t terribly “heavy”, but nothing bad. And I thought it was kind of neat at the end where it was somewhat suggested Applejack try to be mayor herself. If this was another series, that might be interesting to think about or consider. But…Applejack’s destiny is growing apples. That’s clear from her Cutie Mark and background, so there’s no chance of that. And a lot of Applejack’s frustration over bureaucracy might make her the most animated and emotional she’s ever been in the franchise, so it had that going for it.

But all of that aside…like I said, the plotline is a mess. The point it seemed trying to sell was that Applejack was so concerned about doing things the way “she would do them if she was in charge” that she wasn’t concerned with getting ponies to work together to handle a problem. In that sense, it defended Mayor Mare’s way of doing things while indicating it was Applejack that needed to make a change. But that’s ridiculous. The plot made it clear the city government was woefully inept, and no one who has ever been mired in red tape and forms will possibly sympathize with the fact that all of that was “necessary”. The fact so many of the city council members have pointless jobs and tasks indicates what the real purpose of city hall is is to provide people with something to do for a living, even if their job is non-existent. Some people might argue that’s a hallmark of a “good” socialist society. Others would argue that’s how parties became so powerful and ended up dominating entire regions through their politics and corrupt political systems during the Gilded Age. Not to mention it didn’t even sell that idea. Whether you’re talking about Applejack fixing the little problems or Mayor Mare fixing the problem with ponies being turned into produce, in both cases…both of them order other ponies to do what they say. The only thing Applejack flubbed on was losing her cool. So…message irrelevant. Frankly, the idea of promoting “more bureaucracy” as a moral of your story is so confounded it sounds like a satire.

I did notice one thing, however, in this issue on the second readthrough. If the mayor had gone more or less into her final story and schpiel right after Applejack’s finished “day with her”, the moral would have been less muddled and the ending a bit more satisfactory. In other words…if the bit with the produce was cut out. That makes me wonder if the issue was running a few pages short and that had to be thrown in at the last minute to fill up the rest. But with or without it, there really is never any justification in the story for why Mayor Mare’s methodology is “best”, so I have a hard time buying why Applejack would think so at the end.

And since that’s the biggest part of this storyline, in spite of the good things…I rate it pretty low.

Fun Facts:

Applejack claims that the barn has been there since Ponyville was founded. Uh…no, Applejack. That barn gets rebuilt at least once a season. IDW even made a joke about it earlier in their series.

This story shows the gazebo is, in fact, a fully-functional city hall that’s much bigger on the inside.

In one panel, Applejack is literally “glaring daggers” at the city clerk (Tadwell).

One panel turns into a kid’s maze insert for Applejack’s fruitless attempt to fill out forms.

The unicorn Hoggle seems to be the pony version of the character of the same name in “Labyrinth”.

Notable for showing the fandom what “Crazy Applejack” looks like (similar to Crazy Twilight and Pinkamena).

A number of cast regulars are actually on the city council. Spike is Department of Dragon Relations (looks like “boon-doggling” to me…). Rarity is on the Ponyville Business Council.

The Ponyville Business Council contains all the characters confirmed to own their own business in the series, plus Flax from Rarity’s “Micro-Series”.

Rating:

1.5 Stars out of 5

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