Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Episode 19

Nothing makes up for a mediocre episode quite like a Rarity episode, and this one does not disappoint.
A Dog and Pony Show
Rarity puts the finishing touches on a silhouetted outfit just as a customer enters her shop.  And not just any customer, either, but the one and only Sapphire Shores: the Pony of Pop!  It seems that she's heard all about Rarity and her designs, and she's here to get some sensational outfits for her upcoming tour.  Rarity is simply beside herself over Sapphire Shores knowing her name (and letting her call her Sapphire), but she keeps her cool and shows her the just-finished gemstone-encrusted outfit.  With that much sparkle, Sapphire is won over in an instant, not only buying the outfit on the spot, but ordering five more in different colors.  And wouldn't you know it, Rarity just used the last of her gemstones on the one outfit.  The thought of all the work entailed in making five more gem-encrusted outfits causes Rarity to swoon, but Sapphire is used to ponies fainting in her presence and laughs it off.
Spike, of course, needs no encouragement to help out Rarity, as they search the rocky cliffs outside of Ponyville.  Rarity's cutie mark, you see, doesn't just represent her desire for the finer things in life, but indicates her magical talent as well: finding gems.  Using her horn as a dowsing rod, she's able to find cachets of gems, which Spike then digs up.  And has to be reminded not to eat.  While Rarity did promise him a few for snacks, she's going to need all the jewels she can get her hooves on for five more outfits.  Once the wagon is loaded up, Rarity plucks out the best jewel and gives it to Spike, "from me to you."  Though he's been drooling over the precious stones all day, Spike can't bring himself to eat a gift from his beloved Rarity.
As their excavation continues, figures hiding in the bushes catch sight of Spike with the wagon full of gems, and plot to capture him for their own gem-hunting use.  Once they spot Rarity's gem-finding ability, though, they switch their plans accordingly.  Just as Rarity's about to call it a day, she suddenly picks up a larger-than-normal reading, though it indicates the jewels are in a tree.  But the jewels are attached to a dog, one of the nefarious figures plotting against Rarity, who introduces himself as a Diamond Dog, and, when his two associates are in position, announces their intent to capture Rarity.  Spike puts up a good fight, but only manages to slow down two of the dogs for a short time, and soon Rarity is caught and taken down a large hole.  Spike lets loose a Big No before heading back to town to get help.
Unable to handle what just happened, Spike can only gibber in front of the others, but he gets enough information out that they can get started.  Once he's able to breathe again, Spike fills them in on the whole "Rarity captured and carried down a hole" situation.  Sounds easy enough to rectify, but not so fast!  The Diamond Dogs anticipated that their kidnapping wouldn't go over so well, and filled the whole area with holes.  On top of that, once they see that Rarity's friends have arrived, they start filling the holes back up.  Try as the ponies might, they just can't get in.  All the dirt makes Applejack think of the horror Rarity, neat freak that she is, must be going through, and she proposes they dig through so they can save their friend.  But the Diamond Dogs are still around, ready to stop the ponies from digging and undermining their attempts to fight back. Seeing the dogs in person, the other ponies can only imagine how terrified Rarity must be, but what can they do?
Spike spots a lone neglected hole and comes up with a plan!  Pulling out the gem Rarity gave him, he lowers it down the hole with a fishing rod, hoping the dogs will take the bait.  While he waits, he has an epic dream sequence of himself as Sir Spike, hunky knight, fighting off the dogs and rescuing the fair damsel Rarity.  Before he can get to the True Love's Kiss part, though, there's a pull on the line.  A pull so strong that all the ponies end up being dragged along into the caverns deep beneath the earth.  Spike exults at his plan working, until Twilight points out the myriads of cavernways they have to choose from, whereupon he lets out another Big No.  But there's no helping it, they'll just have to figure out which way Rarity went somehow.  Spike deduces that the dogs probably took Rarity down the most gem-filled tunnel., But as Twilight points out, finding gems is Rarity's special talent, so how're they supposed to know which one that is?  So Spike counterpoints that Twilight's special talent is magic itself, so she should be able to copy the spell Rarity uses.  Fortunately, Rarity showed Twilight how it was done some time ago, and sure enough, she's able to do it.  Rarity, here they come!
Speaking of Rarity, she at first cowers before the Diamond Dogs, but when she hears that they want her to find gems, she becomes rather nonchalant about the whole thing.  She finds them a plot filled with jewels, marks it with an X, and tries to get them to show her the way out.  But the dogs insist she dig up the gems as well, ordering her at spearpoint.  So she digs, in a scraping at the ground kind of way, complaining about not wanting to ruin her pony-pedi.  Baffled by this, the lead dog just has the grunt dogs dig up the gems instead, as Rarity smiles to herself.  If she won't dig, though, she'll have to haul the cart of jewels, and the other two dogs place her in the harness as she complains about their scruffy nails as they do.  Her complaining is too much for the lead dog, but despite insults against his breath, he sets Rarity to work.  And so Rarity pulls the cart and marks the location of jewels, never once shutting up about the conditions she has to put up with, including being referred to as "pony."  It's "Miss Rarity," if you please.
Finally the lead dog has enough of her "whining," and says so, to Rarity's annoyance.  After all, she was complaining, not whining, and takes it upon herself to show them the difference.  This is the final straw for the Diamond Dogs, their sensitive dog ears unable to handle the screeching coming from Rarity's mouth, and the leader promises to do "anything" to get her to stop.  And so in short order, the cavern is decorated with banners and ribbons, Rarity is fanned while drinking from a jeweled goblet, and the Diamond Dogs are pulling the carts.  Once peace and quiet has settled in, however, the lead dog realizes the absurdity of them being bossed around by a mere pony, and decides to brave the awful noises she makes.  He hooks Rarity up to the harness again, slaps her behind, saying, "Hiyah, mule!"  Bad move.  "Did you just call me a mule?" Rarity asks, her eyes filling with tears.  And before anyone knows what's going on, Rarity is prostrate on the ground, crying about how the dogs think she's ugly and never liked her, going on and on despite the dogs' attempts to placate her.
All Rarity's crying filter's down the tunnel to where Spike and the others are racing to her rescue.  Once they reach the door to the room where Rarity is being held, however, they are beset by the grunt dogs, who are foolish enough to think they've just been handed a lot of work horses.  Applejack immediately starts bucking her "rider," and the others follow her example, sending the grunts running in no time flat.  With the grunts taken care of, and Rarity just beyond the door, Spike plucks a stalactite for a makeshift lance and...
Spike: Hiho, Twilight, away!
Twilight: And just what do you think you're doing?
Spike: Please, Twilight, just give me this.
Twilight: *sigh* Fine.
And so Spike and Twilight bust through the door, only to find the Diamond Dogs running toward them, begging to be saved from Rarity.  Seeing that Rarity is safe, Spike rushes in for a hug, and Rarity commends her friends for their good timing.  It seems that she negotiated a leaving fee, namely, all the gems she was forced to find for the Diamond Dogs, and that fills quite a few carts.  As the ponies leave, Rarity's friends are amazed that she was able to trick the dogs into letting her go, but Rarity reminds them that just because she's a lady doesn't mean she can't hold her own.  Twilight's excited about the report she'll write to Princess Celestia on what she's learned from Rarity: being ladylike does not equal weak, and a quick wit is sometimes a better asset than the strongest muscles.  Spike, meanwhile, is just glad that there's more than enough gems for the outfits and snacks.

Rarity truly rocked in this episode, using her wiles to get what she wanted from the dogs.  There were a lot of little clever things I liked in this episode, like the lead Diamond Dog using a dog whistle in Spike's fantasy to summon the grunts.  And the Diamond Dogs themselves are a reference to a song of the same name by David Bowie, with the lyrics, "The diamond dogs are poachers, and they hide behind trees."  This episode also seems to be more in line with the old G1 series, having villains that seem like a credible threat, but are ineffectual when you get right down to it.
One thing that bugs me, though: Spike theorizes the dogs have taken Rarity down the tunnel with the most gems, and sure enough, that's how they find her, but A. how would the dogs know where the most gems are, since that's what they kidnapped Rarity for, and B. even if they did know, wouldn't that tunnel now have the least gems?

Misc. Screenshots
Impress me, says Sapphire Shores
Like a dog


flashfox466 said...

I was surprised you didn't include a screenshot of Spike trying to kiss Applejack after the fantasy sequence. I always thought the look she gave him was funny:

But the the look she gives him after she stops him is hilarious:

And yeah, I always wondered why the dogs were down the tunnel with the most gems... Maybe they have a sense where the gems are, but not EXACTLY where they are.

Anonymous said...

Spike had the right idea. The tunnel most traveled by the diamond dogs would be littered with gem fragments dropped in transit over the years.