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A Pole by birth, a Lawgiver by trade and a Trickster by choice. Altogether a most friendly, sociopathic madman. At your service...

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Frenemies Talk, Chapter V · 4:16pm May 4th, 2015

Frenemies Talk, Chapter V: Appleloosa's Most Wanted

And back for the next episode. Wild West, Mild West, buffaloes, sheriffs, outlaws, tack piano music. That's what I was hoping for in this episode, expecting a dreaded highwaypony to strike fear into the hearts of locals and the Cutie Mark Crusaders to finally prove their worth and solve some real problems...

... yeah, about that. If this is the "most wanted" scenario in Equestria, I'm getting back to reading fanfictions.

Spoilers ahead. Also, a "Don't shoot the critic" sign...

Look at Applejack and how much she's anguished by taking the CMC with her in the first place. She's crying on the inside, but you can hear it.

Prane: “Hey there! Welcome to A-a-pplelooosa!” - that’s how Braeburn greeted us the first time we’ve arrived to this little wild west theme park the locals call their home. Myself, I was never a big fan of classic western movies, and I think it wasn’t until Back to the Future Part III that I even knew they were a thing, so Appleloosa isn’t exactly a place for me. To make things worse, the premise was uninteresting to say the least (even if still somewhat within the ongoing cutie mark theme of S5), Trouble Shoe’s backstory weak, and two-third of the Cutie Mark Crusaders shallow as never. Sweetie Belle stood out because of her magic, and her more careful and less childish approach towards the tackled issue, but it wasn’t enough to make the episode enjoyable for me. Well, I guess every show has to have those once in a while.

That’s the thing with CMC episodes, I suppose. They can be done well (I’m thinking Twilight Time or One Bad Apple), or they can be handled clumsily. We’re bound to get both executions until they finally get their cutie marks and move on, but here’s a question: is watching the silliness of the Crusade still worth it at this point, ninety-seven episodes into the show, or are we fed up with it and would rather see the trio discover their talents already?

Gulheru: You are aware of my opinion on the Crusaders. Being childish does not give you the right of being oblivious and, well, completely stupid. And the trio got themselves into trouble once more because of the exact same reason as many times before. Self-discovery is one thing, but their quest is a borderline obsession. Besides, they were granted enough hints about their abilities already. Would there be nopony around to tell them what they are good at? They don’t have to find out “entirely” by themselves! Voice of reason from somepony of experience would be welcomed.

I am, however, happy that we see Sweetie Belle unlocking her abilities. That’s visible progress right there. She also happens to be the most likable from the three right now, at least for me. The most reasonable. Still not assertive enough, however.

Aren’t we depressing today?

There's an interesting villain character in this picture. Can you spot him? Well, me neither.

Gulheru: Allow me to say that I was expecting something more from the recent episode. It might be my affinity towards villainous characters, but I was hoping for a real outlaw antagonist, not a clumsy pessimist, whose mood could rival Cranky Doodle’s… Does anyone else believe that tackling a “cutie mark” problem of somepony of more heinous intentions would actually make this a better episode?

Prane: When I first heard the name Trouble Shoes before the episode aired, I thought we’ll be getting some typical western action following one of Frank Gruber’s seven most common plots of western (yay for the educational value of the blog!). Unfortunately, we’ve got a bland cutie mark story which just happened to take place in Appleloosa, but could as well happen anywhere else in Equestria. Rodeo clowns? Come on! There’s a difference between being an entertainer which makes the audience laugh with you, and a walking disaster which makes them laugh at you, and I’d suppose a show known from its morals to handle it better. In other words, they way they introduced Trouble Shoes into the show was a missed opportunity of taking us for what could have been a really fun ride. Sorry, Dave Polsky - you did not deliver.

Foreground: a barrel of laughs. Background: two laughing barrels.

Gulheru: It might be time to ask - what could have been improved in such an episode? What premises were not explored, what topics were not tackled.

I really desired an outlaw - somepony of the mentality of a highwaypony, a genuine varmint, not a clumsy, although likable, hulking pile of misfortune. Somepony to provide a challenge, a problem. Perhaps because he misinterpreted his talent. It falls under “reform a villain” cliche, but I think it would more beneficial than what we were given. What would you do to improve the episode, I wonder…

Prane: I’ve already come to terms that Starlight Glimmer won’t be a villain whose schemes are present somewhere in the background throughout the season, but this episode’s setting and characters were the perfect opportunity to show just that.

Let’s not change Trouble Shoes in any way. He’s still the stallion we know, still defined by his unluckiness. However, he learns that there is a pony out there who can take away your cutie mark and give you something better instead: a sense of belonging and not being condemned by your shortcomings. If there’s one pony in Equestria who would give up his cutie mark willingly, I think it’s the outcast like Trouble Shoes.

This is where the CMC and their fixation on getting a cutie mark comes in. They set off to find the one everypony else shuns (perhaps they first heard of him from Braeburn, Sheriff Silverstar, or some random rodeo participant), and just before he leaves to find Starlight they help him realize that having a cutie mark is better than not having it. He decides to stay, and make the best of his talent by becoming a rodeo clown. I’m putting aside the ridiculous logic that being unlucky makes you a good entertainer, because an unlucky pony will be unlucky all the time, and will fail as a clown regardless, possibly endangering his audience or other performers, but that’s a different story.

There, that’s what I’ve got off the top of my head. Rodeo still takes place, the CMC still venture out to find a known troublemaker, and Trouble Shoes still has his dream fulfilled by the end of the day. As a bonus, fans of Starlight Glimmer are squealing in delight.

Meanwhile on FiMFiction: Applejack just had her deep and well thought out story published, but the CMC are too absorbed with a lore unfriendly one-shot from That Popular Author You Hate.

Prane: Let’s talk about Braeburn and Appleloosa. I remembered him as an easily excitable character who did a great job of showing the ponies around the town in Over the Barrel. When I saw him on screen in this episode, I thought that maybe we’ll be getting some interesting development for him, or maybe some more puns about wild/mild west dances and horse-drawn carriages. Unfortunately, in this episode he turned out to be a device to advance the plot by losing the fillies time and again, and a measly comic relief once the stack of hay bales collapsed. He was never my favorite stallion from the show to begin with, yet still a moderately interesting character considering the western ambiance, but after the episode he lost a lot in my eyes, sadly.

As for Appleloosa, I’m surprised there were no buffaloes around (not counting Trouble Shoes’s flashback). One would think that after Chief Thunderhooves and Sheriff Silverstar had come to an agreement the last time, there will be at least a couple of events for these mighty, stampeding giants, like playing a tug of war (imagine the struggle between five ponies vs one buffalo), or even buffalo riding for the younglings (like bull riding, but less intense and actually fun!). What is more, wasn’t Appleloosa famous from its apple orchards? They couldn’t think of a single apple-based event for the rodeo?

I’d like to end on a positive note and mention the quality of the clothing. Hats, shirts, or vests, they were all colorful, eye-pleasing, and varied between the ponies enough to make the setting look all western-y. Considering that Ponyville is pretty much a nudist colony, it is always nice to see that the ponies of Equestria have some decency and a sense of fashion.

Gulheru: … which makes no sense whatsoever, as clothes are merely implemented here to give the setting some easily recognizable, Western features. And quite stereotypical ones, at that. But, let us not dwell on it. As much as this episode perhaps wasn’t the best, it was not a disaster, not by a long shot. It was just missing a few, crucial elements.

Like “long shots”, but I guess revolvers are not kids-friendly.

Also, where are the buffaloes? We have reached an agreement but they are still not welcomed? Have they migrated someplace else? Appleloosa is theirs by ancestry, wouldn’t there be any of them present around, even perhaps to overwatch the rodeo? I’m not buying it at all.

Urgh, just give me the guns and I’ll sort it out myself…

:ventures towards the sunset:

Come on, buddy, we’ll come back for the next episode.

That's it for today. Hopefully next week we shall encounter a more serious scenario. :checks the list: Discord? Well then!

In the meantime, entertain yourself with the works of Prane and yours truly. And see you soon.


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