Super Recaps: My Little Pony season 6 (Applejack’s “Day” Off)

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Hasbro.

Episode directed by Denny Lu and Tim Stuby

We’re back with another episode of The Rarity and Applejack Adventures, which is the closest thing we’ll get to an American Absolutely Fabulous!  Okay, CANADIAN Absolutely Fabulous!  Whatever!  Despite their differences in occupation and lifestyles, Rarity and Applejack do have quite a bit in common; not the least of which is their business sense and drive for personal success.  We haven’t gotten an episode with these two characters specifically since Made in Manehattan from season five, and that ended up being a highlight of that rather underwhelming season.  Does this episode accomplish the same for season six, or has the dynamic between the two been explored to the extent the writers are willing to go?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with Rarity enjoying a day at the spa and eagerly waiting for the arrival of Applejack in the steam room.  Sadly enough Applejack is overburdened with chores recently and doesn’t arrive until several hours later; setting up the conflict for the rest of the episode and giving us a sight gag in the process.  I don’t think that steaming can cause your face to melt off, but maybe they’re using magic steam.

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“LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE!  Do you KNOW how long it will take for them to put my face back on!?”

Right off the bat, it seems this is PROBABLY not gonna be the most original episode of the series.  The idea of Applejack having too much to do to spend time with Rarity brings to mind Applebuck Season which was a solid episode from all the way back in season one, but hopefully they won’t need to dip back to the well too deeply for this episode; lest they give off the impression that they’re running out of ideas.  Anyway, Rarity is kvetching about all this to Twilight Sparkle who’s heading to the farm to get some more pies (apparently Spike is eating all of them at an alarming rate which doesn’t bode well for his waistline or pancreas) and, being the Princess of Problem Solving, she decides to see if there’s a way for her to fix this situation.  Before that though, Rarity and Applejack have to fight like an old married couple; or should I say… old MARE-ied couple!?

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“You never spend any time with me anymore!”     “Will you get off my back!?  I work for a living, and you should appreciate that more!!”     “Why I never!  You’re no prize yourself!!”     “WHY DO YOU SAY THINGS TO HURT ME!?”

Twilight injects herself into the conversation and offers to do Applejack’s chores so that she can go to the spa; a proposition that puts Rarity into a state of pure elation and Applejack into panic mode.  She tries to come up with a simple task that she and Spike couldn’t possibly fuck up which is to feed the pigs (I guess we’re just forgetting that Twilight can pick an orchard full of apples with a single burst of magic) and gives them a very specific list of instructions on doing so.  Assuring Applejack that the situation is well in hoof, Twilight sends the two off on their spa date and then tries to decipher the convoluted steps that Applejack has given them.

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“Step one:  Leave the pig food in the barn.  Step two: put down this list and go home.”     “Is there a step three?”     “No, but she goes on a rant about what she’ll do to us if we ever try to take her job away again…”

They’ll be fine!!  Besides, there’s more important stuff to worry about such as how busy the spa just so happens to be on this day!  The answer is… pretty busy!  For some reason there are long lines everywhere and plenty of ponies still in the waiting room including one who Rarity and Applejack didn’t expect to see there but are more than ready to tear them a new one for even being there.

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“Rainbow Dash?”     “Uh… NO!  My name is… Senior Shiny Mane!”     “Miss Dash!  We’re ready to see you!”     “WHO IS THIS DASH PERSON!?  MAYBE I CAN FIND THEM FOR YOU!  I’LL LOOK OUTSIDE!”     *FWOOSH*

Rainbow Dash runs off in embarrassment which frees up a space in line, but that hardly puts a dent in the situation.  Despite what is clearly a massive increase in staff (all of whom appear to be imported from whatever country the other spa ponies are from) there is not enough spa resources to go around; particularly the steam room which is unable to handle the volume.  Rarity would rather try their luck at a different treatment while they wait for the line at the spa room to go down (like they’re at an amusement park or something) but Applejack is hearing NONE of that and demands to speak to the manager.  Celestia forbid she should wait her turn!  She’s a paying customer damn it and those spa ponies wouldn’t be working in the service industry if they weren’t glad to hear all her “helpful suggestions” about why they suck so much at their jobs!

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“It’s nothing against you because I’m SURE you’re a nice pony, but the company you work for should be burned to the ground and brought up on crimes against ponies!”     “Well I’m glad you clarified that I’m not a bad pony; just the company I chose to work for is a cesspool of evil and incompetence.  I feel MUCH better now!”

Applejack, being trained in the art of plumbing apparently, starts to troubleshoot the issue with the steam room and follows the water lines all the way to the laundry room.  By the way, the Ponyville Spa has got to be a TARDIS considering how freaking GIGANTIC this place is compared to how it looks from the outside.  I don’t mind this all that much considering a lot of the exterior designs were done ALL the way back in season one and I’d rather them just go ahead and expand locations rather than restricting themselves for a vague sense of continuity.  Still though, this place is H!!

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“How many more hallways does this place have!?”     “We are only in section B of the maintenance wing.  The water lines go all the way to section D.”     “Well that doesn’t sound too far.”     “You’d be surprised.”

When they finally reach the damn laundry room, they find that the machines are all running so as to provide warm towels for the ponies waiting in line for the Spa Room.  Applejacks asks the spa ponies if these machines are always running simultaneously, and one of them (a dude who looks as shiftless and despondent as I did when I was working retail) lets them know that the warm towel service has been keeping the machines on constantly.

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“One of these days I will escape the drudgery of laundry duty and be a world renown film critic!”     “Pa-LEASE!   What kind of idiot would want to do THAT for a living?”

The clues are starting to come together as Sherlock Apples continues her investigation until everything finally comes together and she explains that a small leak led to longer wait times for the spa which lead to the warm towels which only exacerbated the issue.  The only solution?  Applejack needs to fix the leak and puts on her extensive Tool Time outfit (did she go back home to get it?) in order to get the job done and get these ponies some steam.  There is at least one pony who’s steamed though as Rarity is in the background fuming that her spa date with Applejack is being wasted on a maintenance project instead of pampering.

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“Alright Al.  Pass me the nail gun.”     “For the last time.  My name is RARITY.”     “As long as I wear the googles, your name is Al!  Oh-ho-ho-ho!”     “Fine.  Where’s the nail gun anyway?”     “You lost the nail gun!?  Arruuuh!?”

I actually like this story line for the most part and I think it might be because of how low the stakes are.  For once, it doesn’t feel like we’ll be getting a message at the end of the story; or at the very least, the whole story isn’t ABOUT whatever message will be coming up.  It feels like an episode of a sitcom where we’ve got a primary story about a spa day gone wrong and a subplot about the kids trying to do their chores while the parents are away and the relaxed tone is rather refreshing.  Speaking of which, how is that going?

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“Seriously Twilight.  I think those other instructions Applejack left were just to screw with you.”     “Well we can’t be certain, now can we?”

Apparently the duo still haven’t deciphered Applejack’s convoluted process for feeding the pigs, and Rarity and Applejack (having run out of time for the spa day) return to find the pigs still unfed.  With no progress made in either relaxation or animal feeding, Rarity feels even worse than when this whole enterprise started and Applejack just goes back to her regular routine which we see involves an oddly complex method for feeding the pigs that takes at least ten times as long as it should; all the while complaining about how the spa ignored how inefficient things had gotten and were just coming up with half measures that ended up making things take way too long.  I sense a theme approaching!

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“Praise the Ultra Mega Chicken, or else his wrath will crush this farm within a fortnight.  PRAISE HIM!!”

So now we’re getting into the moral of the story which is that either paying closer attention to what you’re doing or having somepony not ingrained in the routine to observe the situation can save you a lot of time and effort!  It’s not a BAD message I guess (it even manages to relate to what was going on at the spa), but the execution of it feels really off here.  Maybe it’s because the episode up to this point didn’t feel like we were gonna get a lesson in friendship that makes this feel out of place, but I do think that they could have done a better job with what they have here, even if the episode was more explicitly building towards it.  We have a montage of Twilight and Rarity helping Applejack come up with better methods for her day to day duties, but the bad routines that they are correcting seem REALLY counterproductive.  That’s the point I guess, but her methods are straight up illogical.  The worst one has to be the watering system she uses as the farm is apparently kept hydrated through a series of sprinklers.  Applejack’s method is to turn on the first sprinkler and then release the water.  Then she turns on the second sprinkler and turns the water back on so that now it’s coming out of both sprinklers.  This supposedly continues for acres and acres and acres, over watering the closest plants and probably never getting to the later ones.  How does a farmer not understand why that wouldn’t work!?  She had to have somepony else come in and tell her to water them all at once instead of this insane staggering out process!?  And before you ask, they’re all the same damn crop (lettuce it looks like) so don’t try to say the more water intensive vegetables are closest to the valve!

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“Ninety-nine rows of crops to hydrate!  Ninety-nine rows of crops!  You release one valve and water them down!  Ninety-eight rows of crops to hydrate!”

Oh well.  At least her friends are able to show her the way to a streamlined chore system which will cut several hours from her daily routine!  Now that everything is done with time to spare, what is she gonna do?  Well I’m sure Rarity can come up with a few ideas!  And so the episode ends with the two of them (I guess Twilight wasn’t invited) returning to the spa to see if they can FINALLY get an appointment with the steam room!  Of course they run into Rainbow Dash again who’s returned to get her stereotypically girly treatments (masculinity so fragile I guess) and decides she’s tired of hiding it and enjoys the day with the other two.  I’m sure she’ll never admit this ever happened to anyone else though.

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I liked what they were doing in the first half of the episode, but it kind of lost its way in the second half.  There was a lack of urgency or manipulation to the story that made it portentous or histrionic as the show can sometimes get.  The sitcom comparison still rings true for me, though the show it reminded me most of was an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia where Charlie visits a spa for the first time (spoiler alert: it doesn’t go well).  It’s too bad that they couldn’t keep going in that direction as back half where Applejack returns to the farm feels very perfunctory and lacks some polish.  It’s fine if every episode just HAS to give us a moral at the end, but if that’s the case then it also has to be well thought out and at least somewhat relatable.  If it’s not, then who is gonna learn from the lesson and therefore what would be the point?  The first half felt of the episode feels very matter of fact rather that the standard MLP fable formula, but it had to go back to what is expected of this show and the episode suffers for it.  Some of the best parts of this season are when it breaks from the format and tries something new, whether it’s a travelogue of the New York stand-in, an Office style retelling of events, or even a low key story about two ponies running into shenanigans while trying to enjoy a day out.  As long as season six continues to try new things, then this will definitely work better than season five did.  I just hope they get a bit bolder with what they do to change things up and let it ride out the entire episode instead of trying to split the difference between unique ideas and business as usual.

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One thought on “Super Recaps: My Little Pony season 6 (Applejack’s “Day” Off)

  1. ArthurCrane

    Short Version: Did Seinfeld ever have a bit about spas?

    Longer Version:
    -I’ve definitely said this before (I’m fairly certain it was the last time we had an Applejack-centric episode), but there’s nothing wrong when this show wants to go low-key and just (relatively) take it easy without the need of major drama or developments in the lives of ponies. After all, the slice-of-life angle continues to be one of the more celebrated and identifiable aspects of it. Lots of episodes from the earlier seasons were like that and they’re often fondly remembered (rose-tinted glasses notwithstanding). This one would definitely feel more at home back then, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with getting it now. That being said, it did take me a while to get into it, mostly because it felt like it was meandering most of the time, but once it was clear where it was going, I was generally pleased with it.

    -It almost feels wrong to call this one a “slow-burn”, given how a show of this nature is usually about quick engagement, but I can’t find a more adequate description. It doesn’t feature much in the way of over-the-top antics or comic relief, but maybe that’s a good thing? While I have my own biases about what I’d like to see on the show, I can recognize that outside of having some kind of lesson to teach the kids and having a happy ending, not every episode of the show has to be the same.

    -The closest point of reference I can find for this one is the MLP “Friends Forever” comic series, where the stakes are usually low and the focus is putting two or more characters together and watching them bond over something, using their own skills/knowledge to help each other. While that sounds like A LOT of other MLP episodes, there’s a feel about them that makes the series seem like it’s less about the fantasy/magic and more about the slice-of-life aspect. They’re generally what I feel the series would be like if it was more like a traditional sitcom (animated or otherwise), but for kids.

    -This is probably my favorite portrayal of Applejack in a leading role in a while. While I’ve enjoyed her presence, though there are a few exceptions, I feel like they’re needs to be a delicate balance when writing an episode about her. Being the “straight-man” character, it’s easy to make her either too straightforward, which can make her boring in a role like that (“The Mane Attraction”, where it begins and ends with her, voice of reason that she is, being right about something), or too zany and it feels off for her (“Apple Family Reunion”). Still, as several episodes have shown already, she’s just as likely as any of her friends to become too wrapped up in her own take on things to realize when she’s making a mistake. In the end, it all comes down to execution, and this episode features one of the better ones for her in recent memory, with the first two-thirds of the story showing her stubborn, work-centric nature actually being put to good use outisde of farm work (it’s usually a detriment in situations like these), but then showing where she comes up short.

    -This finale is where the episode really clicked for me, as I could finally see the pieces coming together and what it was building up to. The result is one of the most practical and relatable lessons in a while. I can tell from personal experience that it’s true you may never know you’re doing something wrong until an outside voice points it out to you. While it’s presented in a very exaggerated form in here, that’s just par for the course at this point. Plus, having Applejack experiencing both sides of the lesson firsthand was a nice touch. It’s one of the more clear signs of progression the series has had recently; it’s very easy to see how, in the past, Applejack would’ve been irritated at the idea of constructive criticism over her work methods.

    -I like how the episode found the perfect solution to keep Twilight from just using her magic to get things done: by exploiting her fear of not doing things by the book/list.

    -A friend pointed this out to me, but I liked how both Mr. and Mrs. Cake were at the spa, implying that Pinkie Pie was left to take care of both the twins and Sugar Cube Corner. She’s probably a pro of doing that by this point. In a related note, I’d make fun of Mr. Cake getting literally stomped on by Bulk Biceps (I have to admire how the series is committing to what started off as a one-shot gag last season by having him as a regular masseuse), but I’m afraid he might actually have some serious back problems and that’s why he needs a deep tissue massage.

    -Remember when Rainbow Dash thought getting pampered at a spa was the worst possible thing to her reputation? Yeah, I’m glad she (sort of) got over that, too. The mental picture alone of her enjoying a spa day is very delightful to me. By the way, I like that she seems to have brought her own robe and slippers (which are still adorable) from home.

    -Overall, I’m not sure if I’ll be as into this one in the future (we’ll have to see how the rest of the season plays out), but for now, it gets a surprisingly enthusiastic thumbs up from me.

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