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Mike Cartoon Pony

Nintendo gamer and animation lover. Also likes pastel cartoon ponies. They do that to people. And ghosts.

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Mini Re-Reviews: "Family Appreciation Day" - Season 2 Episode 12 · 10:51pm February 28th

GRANNY SMITH: "Eh, what were we hugging for here again, Apple Bloom?"
APPLE BLOOM: "Don't ya remember, Granny Smith? I had a crisis of faith and didn't want to bring you to school, so I pretended to be sick, tried to speed up the harvest, controlled you while you were asleep, and faked a message from Uncle Apple Strudel!"
APPLEJACK: "What did you just say, young 'un? Did you do all those things and never own up about them?"
APPLE BLOOM: "...I really need to mentally filter what I say for these captions, don't I?"

Well, Season 2 is setting a pattern alongside Season 1; Episode 12 in both seasons features Apple Bloom where a prominent element, if not the most prominent one, is Applejack's little sister dealing with Diamond Tiara being the absolute worst. Case in point: at first, Apple Bloom isn't the slightest bit embarrassed at Granny Smith's eccentricities; in fact, she's all gung-ho to assist in Zap Apple Jam, a super special day-long harvest preceded by four days of warnings that involve specific rituals to ensure the Zap Apples are at their best. Apple Bloom is a little nonplussed at Granny's behaviour as she doles out the rituals, but she doesn't mind, she loves being an Apple and she loves her Granny. Then Diamond Tiara happens by and blows up Granny Smith's oddities out of proportion, waxing sympathy for an embarrassment she doesn't feel. In a flash, Apple Bloom goes from having the time of her life bouncing around in a bunny suit to being self-conscious of every little thing her Granny does, and from there, anxiety and worry do the rest. And that's not even getting into what Worst Filly does later, suggesting Granny Smith as Apple Bloom's family member to bring for her turn on Family Appreciation Day as Applejack and Big Mac have the Zap Apple Jam harvest to take care of.

Apple Bloom's embarrassment of her granny throughout the episode is executed in quite a realistic manner. Her adoration faded when the seeds of doubt were planted in her mind all the more because Granny Smith's behaviour was even more wacky then usual. Yet it's clear at the end that it was just a brief loss of faith, if you will. And being a cartoon, the episode can do that thing where utterly insane things that a character does turn out to be completely rational things given the circumstances. Given all the rituals end up having a fair point. There's more depth to this episode then there appears to be at first.

On the surface, mind, this episode is mostly low-key, pleasant, fun shenanigans, which, alongside being a CMC episode and an Apple one - both episode types that often have to fight to get highlighted - perhaps explains why it's so rarely mentioned. Indeed, it was a sleeper episode I had largely forgotten about, save some mild viewer cringe at some of Granny Smith's activities. Hence me being pleasantly surprised at how good this episode turned out. Now that I'm more used to Granny Smith's ways, her moments kept hitting their mark. Even if nothing tops the Weekend At Bernie's gag of the CMC controlling her while she's asleep. Cause little can top that.

Still, the episode doesn't really shine until Granny Smith shows up at school, and does something no one expected: share the origin story of Ponyville. On top of its main purpose of showing how much there is to her and how much important stuff she's done, and gaining respect for Granny Smith from everyone bar Diamond Tiara (even from the audience), it's simple delightful worldbuilding, sketches in broad but defined strokes how Ponyville came to be due to her pilgrim family settling down there, and Granny Smith finding the Zap Apples in the Everfree Forest and, through trial and error, discovering the formulas and rituals to harvest them best. Sales flourished, a town grew around this new farm, and even Diamond Tiara's great grandfather got his start seeling Zap Apple Jam. And there's plenty other details that are either lore establishing (the attire of everyone, especially the Camelot-clad Canterlot ponies, suggests a lot of industrial growth since Granny Smith was a young'un) or just funny (Granny's mother's visual disapproval at her husband kissing Celestia's hoof a bit longer then she would like, for instance). The story done, Silver Spoon kicks off applause for it, and Diamond Tiara's attempt to put Granny Smith down is instantly rebuked by Apple Bloom, who stands by her.

The denouement is also quite effective, on account of not being over-sentimental; it cuts Apple Bloom's tender apology to a forgetful Granny Smith short, by her forgetting other things after saying its okay, and just when it looks like Applejack's about to suggest Apple Blooms write a letter to Celestia, instead we get the hilarious bit of Diamond Tiara being forced to don a bunny suit and join the cap hopping ritual. Lacking a friendship letter spelling out the moral is a good touch, given how self-evident the moral is (seriously, no kid could miss it), that I sometimes wish the odd episode with redundant letters at the end didn't bother.

There's a lot to like about the episode: the implication, unstated in dialogue, that Earth Ponies have some level of control over the magic of nature above and beyond the two other types was something the show very rarely touched upon again. And the moral is a very worthwhile one, kept largely from being portrayed in a cringey way. This episode being largely forgotten about is still explainable, but it is a shame, as it was something of a sleeper hit for me, and while not having classic fandom-defining moments or aspects does hold it back - it is still a low-key episode with largely simple pleasures - it's one worth revisiting to reassess your opinion on. "Family Appreciation Day"'s title comes to mean a lot more after the presentation and she learns more about her granny to appreciate, and the same can be said of the episode itself, hence it getting a 8/10 in overall performance. Like a lot of Apple or CMC episodes, not high on rewatch factor, but a really good one all the same.

- I didn't even mention it on the body of the review; but it's great seeing Flithy Rich is actually a good person, if perhaps not exactly happy with his name. Pity the show hardly ever used him again bar that one flashback-heavy S6 episode, "Where The Apple Lies". Honestly I often think of him as more of a comics characters by now, as he's been a pivotal character in at least three (Ponyville Days, Election and Spirit of the Forest) and had brief but notable speaking appearances in a few others. I suppose his position within Ponyville as its most successful businessman does lend itself to quite a few stories, ones the comics are more likely to delve into.
- "You bite it, you buy it!" Loved hearing that classic line of AB's from "Call of the Cutie" coming back in a weird way from an unrelated source.
- During the sequences of the CMC trying to prevent Granny Smith from coming on Monday, I was feeling an odd sense of deja vu. It wasn't until they had finished that I realised what it was: "The Last Crusade". The MLP S9 episode, that is. The stretch of that episode where the CMC's schemes to change the mind of Scootaloo's folks fail one after the other, well, they kept cropping up in my head as I watched the stretch here where the CMC' Family Appreciation Day prevention schemes keep failing one after the other. Of course, it was better in the S2 episode. Everything was better in S2, given how rather unfunny and plain the failures in Crusade where. Sigh... even aside from Last Crusade retconning Scootaloo's hero figures from Rainbow Dash to her never-before-seen parents or pushing the writer's own characters/agendas, large chunks of its screentime are a weaksauce version of this episode.
- Remember what I said about "Sisterhooves Social being an episode that, featuring only two of the Mane 7, started to broaden the show's scope beyond always being these seven ponies? Yeah, that doubles down even more here, with Applejack being the only one of the Mane 7, and she's not the main character either. We're not quite at "none of the Mane 6/7" appear territory yet, but it's worth noting if only for how much the show invests into the CMC by this point already.
- Twist found Filthy Rich's sleep-inducing talk on market capitalisation very captivating, in sharp contrast to almost everyone else (even Silver Spoon was drooling in her sleep). Um... alright then. Not sure what that visual detail is supposed to imply. Does she want to get into that area of business when she grows up?

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Comments ( 2 )

One of my favorite bits of the episode was just showing that Filthy Rich wasn't just "evil rich pony" but actually was a good guy who actually scolded his daughter for being a jerk.

Egad, I completely forgot to mention him. I had things to say as well, enough so that I'm modifying the Stray Observations to include them. Thanks for the unintentional reminder!

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