Monday, December 27, 2010

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Episode Nine

This episode features MLPFiM taking on the bigger issues, but with more charm and humor than most shows of its ilk.
Bridle Gossip
It's an absolutely beautiful day in Ponyville, but none of the ponies are outside, much to Twilight Sparkle and Spike's surprise.  They run through the likely reasons the ponies would stay inside, and start straying into the realm of the unlikely:
Spike: Is it... zombies?!
Twilight Sparkle: Uh, not very likely.
Spike: Not likely, but possible?!
As they continue walking through Ponyville, they hear Pinkie Pie beckoning them in a whisper from the Sugar Cube, urging them to come inside before "she" gets them.  Spike's still freaking out about zombies, but Twilight reminds him such things don't exist.  They join Pinkie Pie and the others in the bakery, who are hunkered down in the darkened bakery due to the presence of a mysterious pony in the town.  Twilight is puzzled by how frazzled this pony, called Zecora, has made her friends, since as far as she can see, Zecora has done nothing to warrant such behavior.  Applejack claims her sister Apple Bloom's safety is reason enough, though Apple Bloom would rather not be babied.  The others add that Zecora is sinister and spooky, so Twilight Sparkle goes back to the window to observe some more.  Zecora lowers her hood, revealing a mohawk and stripes, and suddenly all comes clear to Twilight: Zecora is no pony, but a Zebra.  None of the other ponies have even heard of such a thing, and even Twilight has only ever read about them.  This doesn't allay the ponies' fears, however, for Zecora happens to live in the Everfree Forest (after Applejack says this, there's a clap of dramatic thunder, but it turns out to just be Spike knocking over some pots and pans by accident), an unnatural place where plants grow, animals take care of themselves, and the clouds move all on their own!  Her evil is such that Pinkie Pie has a song for the occasion, which she sings at a breakneck speed.
Despite this "evidence," Twilight Sparkle refuses to believe that Zecora has any ill intentions, not even when she hears of how the Zebra comes to town once a month, lurks outside the shops, and digs at the ground, coming up with a logical explanation.  Apple Bloom takes up Twilight's argument, but Applejack tells her to "let the big ponies talk."  Hearing Twilight mention that if anyone was brave enough to actually talk to Zecora, they'd learn the truth, Apple Bloom sees her chance to prove that she's not so little anymore, and sneaks out of the shop.  She can't quite bring herself to approach Zecora, so she simply follows the Zebra all the way into the Everfree Forest.
Meanwhile, Twilight still isn't making any headway with getting her friends to change their ideas about Zecora, and their discussion is forgotten once Applejack notices Apple Bloom is missing.  They run after her and finally catch up with her in the forest.  Hearing their calls, Zecora turns and, seeing them standing in a cluster of blue leaves, warns them, "Beware, beware, you ponyfolk.  Those leaves of blue are not a joke."  The ponies are not impressed by her "curse," especially Twilight, who asserts that there's no such thing as curses.  Rainbow Dash points out that Twilight uses magic all the time, so how can she say curses aren't real?  So Twilight explains that her kind of magic is something you're born with while curses are fake.  She calls them "an old ponies' tale," then does a doubletake, perhaps remembering episode one, when Night Mare Moon was also supposedly just "an old ponies' tale."  But there's no time to think on that now, as her friends are already on their way back home, saying that she'll see some stories are true.
That night, Twilight Sparkle's dreams are riddled with the events of the previous day, and she wakes up with her hair an unruly mess.  "Maybe Zecora cursed my hair," she jokes, but her laughter stops abruptly when she catches sight of her floppy, blue-spotted horn.  She frantically searches her books, but is unable to find a cause or a cure.  Spike points her toward a book called "Supernaturals," but she rebuffs him, saying that supernatural things are just as made-up as curses.  Spike implores her to at least consider the possibility that she's been cursed, but his plea is cut short by the arrival of Pinkie Pie, who has been similarly affected, though in her case it's her tongue that's covered in blue spots, and too big for her mouth, impairing her speech.  And it's not just Pinkie.  All of Twilight's friends are having trouble of one kind or another: Rainbow Dash's ability to fly is whacked out, Rarity's covered in dreadlocks, Applejack is now teeny, and Fluttershy, well, she doesn't want to talk about how she now has the voice of a scary black man.
After his initial shock, Spike quickly sees the humor of the situation, making up appropriate nicknames for everyone, though he's stumped by how to mangle Twilight Sparkle.  Unamused, Twilight sends him to keep looking for a cure.  Rainbow Dash, however, is sure that Zecora has the cure for their curse, which leads to another argument over whether curses are real or not.  While the others argue, Apple Bloom realizes that one way or another, this is her fault, and so she heads off to get the cure from Zecora.  Applejack catches sight of her leaving, and hitches a ride in her tail.  Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity are all for confronting Zecora, and look for agreement from Applejack, but they panic when she's no where in sight.  At that size, anyone of them could have stepped or sat on her without even realizing it!  Seeing that Apple Bloom is gone, too, they all head out for the Everfree Forest and Zecora.  Spike opts to stay home in order to try and find a cure, but in reality he just wants to work on a nickname for Twilight.
Once Apple Bloom reaches the Everfree Forest, Applejack makes herself known and orders her sister to turn around.  But Apple Bloom realizes she's now the "big" sister, and deposits her "little" sister on a branch for safekeeping while she continues on.  She doesn't have to wait too long, though, before the others arrive and Rainbow Dash crashes into the very branch she was standing on.  Quickly working up a makeshift bridle, Applejack takes control of Rainbow Dash's flight and heads for Zecora's.  Or tries to, anyway.  The others are more successful in reaching Zecora's house, and take a peek in the windows.  The decor doesn't seem too inviting, and Zecora appears to be cooking up a brew and singing in an unknown tongue.  Pinkie claims (as best she can) that the song is the same as hers from earlier, and unable to sing herself, turns to Fluttershy to sing it in her deep man voice.  Fluttershy acquiesces, and it is seriously the best thing ever.
Twilight has to admit that the clues seem to be pointing toward Zecora being as evil as they say, but she's quick to point out it could be just as likely that Zecora is just making soup.  So they peek back in the window, just in time to hear Zecora say, "The perfect temperature for ponies, I presume.  Now, where is that little Apple Bloom?"  Even Twilight can't explain that one away, and as she and the others scream at the prospect of Apple Bloom being eaten, Applejack and Rainbow Dash arrive on the scene, crashing into Zecora's house and knocking over most of her stuff.  Twilight and the others join the fray, demanding to know what happened to Apple Bloom.  Applejack leaps off Rainbow Dash and attempts to wrestle Zecora into submission, but is too small to do much damage.  Unlike Rainbow Dash, who is still crashing into everything is sight, including Zecora's pot.  The ponies accuse her of cursing them, and Zecora counter-accuses them of ruining her home and brew.  She and Twilight end up going head to head, until Apple Bloom arrives, confused as to just what's going on here.  She and Zecora share a laugh when Twilight voices their soup fear, and Zecora explains that what they thought was a curse was actually the results of exposure to the blue leaves of Poison Joke (like poison oak, but with a sense of humor instead of itchiness).
The other ponies demand an explanation for the brew, chanting, and creepy decor, which Zecora provides: the decorations mean "welcome" in her homeland, the chant was just a nursery rhyme, and the brew is actually the cure for poison joke, an herbal bath.  Twilight can't understand why she didn't find this cure in any of her books at home, and is chagrined when she sees the book Zecora used is the same book Spike showed her at home.  Its full title is actually "Super Naturals: Natural Remedies and Cure-Alls That are Simply Super."  She and the other ponies have learned their lesson, and she contritely asks Zecora to mix up another batch of the cure for them.  Zecora is good-humored about the whole thing, but she just needs a certain herb from Ponyville that she hasn't been able to get, since all the stores "mysteriously" seem to be closed whenever she comes to town.  And so Twilight and the others go into town to set the record straight about Zecora,.
As they take their healing bath, Twilight writes her report on not judging someone without getting to know them, and they all revel in not being "cursed" any more.
I have to say, this is my favorite episode so far.  It has a ton of good lines, the situations are amusing, and the message isn't to heavyhanded , either.  Fluttershy's deep voice was a definite highlight, and it was great to see Apple Bloom finally live up to having a credited voice.

Misc. Screenshots:
Rainbow Dash is all "blah blah blah"
Pinkie Pie's puppy dog eyes
Who is this pony?  The owner of the spa?

1 comment:

DarkJoe said...

This was also my favorite episode for the same reasons.

It seems this show has taken almost everyone by surprise. I'll definitely be following this one for quite some time. I'm extremely impressed with the well done, diverse characters and clever writing.