Monday, April 25, 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Episode Twenty One

Sorry to have put this one off for so long.  Not that I was avoiding this episode, though it isn't necessarily one of my favorites.  But it does have the voicing power of Scott McNeil in it, which is a definite plus.  And a wild west setting, with Settler ponies and Native Buffalo.
Over a Barrel
Out in the desert, a pony-pulled train chugs down the track, and Applejack reads a bedtime story to a tree, much to Rarity's disgust.  Her indignation has less to do with the story, and more to do with the fact that a tree gets an entire car to itself while she has to share space with the other ponies.  Applejack justifies it as the tree, named Bloomberg, is the reason for their trip: it's a gift for her cousins out in Appleloosa and she wants it to be in the absolute best condition.  Frustrated that Applejack feels more emotion for a tree than her, Rarity storms out.   As night falls, Spike and Rarity do their best to get some rest while the other ponies chatter, enjoying the ride.  Though Twilight Sparkle calls for lights out, the chatter continues, as a discussion on the tree-ness of Fluttershy ensues.  Spike heads for quieter cars, bunking down with Bloomberg, and even Rarity snaps, leading to lights out for real.
The next morning, the ponies are awakened by a thundering herd of buffalo running by the train.  And running into the train, as well.  Unable to knock it over, the buffalo form a ladder to get a small buffalo on top of the train.  Hearing hooves running the length of the car, Rainbow Dash goes to investigate.  Her attempts to talk to and/or stop the young buffalo are fruitless, though she is impressed by the buffalo's hoofwork.  And just when Rainbow Dash thinks she's got her, she crashes smack dab into a Railroad Crossing sign.  Ouch.  The young buffalo unhitches the last car from the train and signals the rest of the herd.  As the ponies watch helplessly, the buffalo herd makes off with the car containing Bloomberg and Spike.  Rainbow Dash recovers just in time to see the herd with the car, and vows vengeance both for Spike and her aching head.
Once the train arrives in Appleloosa, Applejack and the others attempt to head off to save Bloomberg and Spike, but are met by Braeburn, Applejack's cousin.  Without letting anyone get a word in, he welcomes them and shows them the sights: horse-drawn carriages, horse-drawn horse-drawn carriages, the watering hole (a salt bar), the sheriff's office, wild west dances, mild west dances, and of course, the apple orchard.  With that out of the way, Applejack finally gets him to listen and they explain how the buffalo took Spike and Bloomberg, plus Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie are missing.  At the word "buffalo," Braeburn's eye goes all twitchy.  It seems that the buffalo have demanded the Appleloosans remove all the trees from the orchard, which is probably why they took Bloomberg.  Braeburn laments the unfairness of this demand, since they need the apples to live on.
Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash, her head still smarting, sneaks around the desert, trying to get close to the buffalo herd, but runs into Pinkie Pie instead.  Which blows any chances of being sneaky, and soon the two ponies are surrounded by buffalo.  But Spike intervenes, and with one word from him, the buffalo take their leave.  Turns out buffalo have mad respect for dragons, so Spike is being treated as an honored guest, and while they don't care for ponies, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie are okay as long as they're with him.  Dash would rather take off while they still can, and when the young buffalo that she encountered on the train shows up with a bowl of turquoise for Spike, she's out of there, dragging Pinkie Pie with her.  The young buffalo, Little Strongheart, apologizes to Spike's friends, saying they just wanted the tree.  Spike takes them to Chief Thunder Hooves to get the whole story.  The chief tells Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie of the long and winding stampeding trail that the buffalo have run for generations upon generations, a sacred tradition that has now been upset by the apple trees planted by the settler ponies.  With the trees in the way, their path is cut off, effectively trapping them.  Hearing the buffaloes' reasons for taking the tree, Rainbow Dash is instantly on their side.
The next morning, the other ponies prepare for the long hike into buffalo territory, only to be surprised by Spike, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie showing up before they've even broken a sweat.  After everyone is reunited, Spike and the others reveal that they've brought Little Strongheart with them to talk to the Appleloosans.  Though Braeburn is eager to hear what Little Strongheart has to say, Applejack talks over him, and Rainbow Dash does the same for Little Strongheart, presenting their versions of the two sides.  Despite this, it soon becomes clear that both parties have good reasons for needing the land.  Twilight wonders how they can resolve this conflict, and Pinkie Pie comes up with a plan....
Later that day, with all the Appleloosans and buffalo collected, Pinkie Pie, dressed as a saloon girlperforms a number about how they're not so different and everyone needs to share and care.  However, the only conclusion that the leaders come to is that the performance was absolutely terrible.  Sorry, Pinkie.  In fact, things are worse than ever: Chief Thunder Hooves declares that the buffalo will stampede as planned, and will trample the orchard and the whole town if need be.  Sheriff Silver Star responds to this challenge, insisting they'll be ready and waiting.  Preparations begin immediately: the Appleloosans board up their houses, harvest the apples, and bake pies.  Lots and lots of pies.  Applejack and her friends try to talk some sense into the townsfolk, but they'll have none of it.  The buffalo, meanwhile, practice headbutting, sharpen their horns, and apply war paint.  Rainbow Dash appeals to the chief, but he can see no other course of action.
Noon approaches, the appointed hour for the stampede.  The buffalo gather on a cliff overlooking the town, where the settlers wait, pies at the ready.  As Rainbow Dash tries in vain to think of something, the clock chimes twelve times.  Little Strongheart puts a hoof on the chief's cheek, and with a resigned sigh, Chief Thunder Hooves stands down.  The ponies breathe a sigh of relief, which is short lived, as Pinkie Pie, doing her best to help the situation, decided to do a reprise of her song.  This so enrages Chief Thunder Hooves that he calls for the stampede to go as planned!  Pinkie Pie is carried away by the herd, as it easily breaks through the barricade.  The townspeople retaliate by throwing pies, which amazingly are able to take out full-grown buffalo.
It's ponies. vs. buffalo, with the ponies proving to have the upperhand, thanks to the pies and a few tricks.  But the chief goes straight for the sheriff, who finds himself out of pies.  Sheriff Silver Star prepares to go out like a pony, but as Chief Thunder Hooves approaches, a pie from left field flies into his path, knocking him out completely.  Seeing the fallen noble buffalo, ponies and buffalo alike mourn the chief.  But the chief is not gone for good, as the remnants of the pie dripping down his face land in his mouth and revive him!  With the sweet taste of apple pie, the chief is inspired, and a compromise is reached.  The buffalo agree to let the orchard stay if the Appleloosans clear part of the orchard for the buffalo to run through, and share the fruit.
And so the two groups are united, Bloomberg finally gets planted, and Twilight drafts her report to the princess: with compromise and understanding, even enemies can be friends, if they just share and care.  Pinkie Pie, of course, insists that Twilight is ripping off her song.
This was one of those episodes that had a lot of fun little moments, but didn't really add up to the sum of its parts, which isn't exactly a surprise, considering it was written by the same guy who wrote "Feeling Pinkie Keen."  For one thing, it feels like the Appleloosans were getting the worst of the deal at the end, since the buffalo got to run and have fruit, while the settlers got their orchard and didn't get their town smashed.  Sounds a little like extortion to me.  But overall it nice to see a different setting, and hilarious to see Pinkie Pie's song actually fail, and then incite a war.  And Braeburn was pretty awesome, too.

Misc. Screenshots:
Buffalo food
Pinkie's in trouble

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