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Synopsis:

Applejack and Fluttershy are on a camping trip to Splendor Woods for some R&R and nature appreciation, only to get shaken up when a flood of ponies come in and set up a massive camp nearby. They’re led by Nosy News, a reporter for Canterlot Daily, and are in search of a mythical creature known as the pigasus after Nosy published a grainy snapshot of a potential sighting recently. Applejack and Fluttershy soon have their trip ruined by the boisterous and loud ponies  running everywhere, but get another surprise the next day when the pigasus actually appears in their tent. They realize the creature is being disrupted by all of the ponies searching for it and they need to get the crowd of pigasus sighters to leave, but as they’ll refuse to depart until they’ve seen it, Fluttershy and Applejack realize the only way to get them to leave is to lie about it not being there. Applejack goes to the camp and tries to do it but, as she’s actually seen the pigasus with her own eyes, all she’s able to do is mutter some flimsy half-truths as she’s unable to directly lie. Not only that, but her evasive answers lead Nosy to believe she has seen the pigasus and she ends up leading the ponies back to her tent, where the pigasus is hiding. When cornered, Applejack nearly breaks down, when Fluttershy manages a hasty disguise using her sleeping bag and leads the ponies away on a “wild pigasus” chase. On cornering her, Nosy gets upset and ends up accidentally confessing that her photograph was a fake to begin with, causing the pigasus sighters to wheel on her for faking the whole thing and chasing her off; leaving Applejack, Fluttershy, and the pigasus to enjoy the rest of their vacation.

Review:

You wake up one morning to see the kitchen a mess and a plate of half-burnt toast and a glass of juice set out for you, along with your six-year-old saying: “Look mommy! I made you breakfast! Do you like it?” What do you tell them?

You go to visit a friend in the hospital undergoing cancer treatment. They’re a shell of a person, their hair is gone, and they’re both under emotional as well as physical anguish. They look at you and say: “I look hideous, don’t I?” What do you tell them?

You’re a family in Nazi Germany that’s hiding refugees who you know will just “disappear” if the local authorities get their hands on them and you’ll never see them again. You get a knock on the door and find a bunch of officers staring back at you. They ask you if you’re hiding anyone in your house. What do you tell them?

Now that we’ve established that lying is not only permissible in some situations but is occasionally the morally right thing to do, let’s continue.

It’s kind of funny that six and a half seasons into the series, the only episode we’ve ever had that really centered on Applejack and Fluttershy was “Viva Las Pegasus” (possibly “Bats!”, as alluded to in this issue). I imagine that’s mostly because it would be a recipe for disaster, as we mildly hinted at in “Bats!”. Fluttershy is the meekest and most timid member of the Mane Six, while Applejack is the most pushy and aggressive. It wouldn’t take too many situations for Applejack to look like she was bullying or pushing Fluttershy around unless, as in “Viva Las Pegasus”, both of them were out of their element. Unfortunately, the way this “Friends Forever” is presented, it focuses less on the relationship between the two and more on Applejack in a situation such as in “Leap of Faith”, in where her virtue is put to the test. So in that regard, it’s another entry that kind of violates the spirit of the comic series.

But in regards to the conflict itself, it’s a little disappointing to me personally. I think this conflict is a bit better than the one in “Leap of Faith”, which was where Applejack was pressured to lie to keep up a delusion that seemed to be doing more good than harm. In this one, Applejack is forced to possibly compromise her principles to do the right thing. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, while you’ll never see a TV cartoon or kindergarten class say it, or anyone else, the fact is as humans we lie continuously and we need to lie in order to maintain our society. Obviously we should never do it to deceive people or get selfish gain, but, as was interestingly noted in the alternate universe comedy “The Invention of Lying”, lies actually do have their place. That’s what makes Applejack having the Element of Honesty be so problematic if you drill down to it. She’s the only one who has a virtue that can’t, and shouldn’t, always be followed to the letter.  If you really put Applejack’s honesty to the test, there will end up being a situation where she’ll find she has to “stretch the truth”. Season Seven actually hit on that with “Honest Apple”, which is probably the closest Applejack will ever come to “learning to lie”.

In this arc, however, the writers put themselves in a corner. Applejack needed to lie to get the pigasus sighters to leave, but she couldn’t do it without blatantly violating her virtue. Yet this wasn’t resolved by her being honest in a “clever” way or by her learning something about truth and untruths. Rather, it was resolved mostly be a deus ex machina. While Fluttershy’s actions kept Applejack from breaking down, in the end what saved the day was Nosy News slipping up about her fake photograph. If she hadn’t, they would have been back to Applejack needing to lie.

As a result, this one doesn’t really resonate with me that much. The art is nice and colorful, but the moral is both muddled and evaded, and Fluttershy mostly seems to be along for the ride to act as a foil for Applejack’s internal struggle.

Fun Facts:

Several residents of Ponyville join the Pigasus hunt in different panels, but Pinkie Pie and Sweetie Belle also appear.

Applejack and Fluttershy’s tent is apparently nearly sound-proof.

At one point, Applejack mutters: “Sheesh, it’s the bats all over again.”, an allusion to Season Four’s “Bats!”.

Indiana-Jones pony is in a couple panels of this story, giving a variant on a line from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”: “It belongs in a museum!”

A couple times in this issue, a character yells out a description of what they’re saying rather than says anything. One booing pony yells out “heckle”, while at one point Applejack, while nervous and hiding the pigasus, says: “causal hello”.

Rating:

1.5 Stars out of 5