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 Ponies of the Caribbean! The post mid-season break episodes have had their ups and downs, but it seems to have leveled off somewhat with some really solid outings like Dungeons and Discords and The Times They are a Changeling, but not we also haven’t really gotten an all-time classic since Stranger than Fan Fiction. Sadly, that probably won’t change considering we’ve got a CMC episode, a Cutie Map episode, and a Starlight episode all in a row which didn’t bring much energy back to the series, and now we’ll probably be getting less exciting episodes to build up towards the season finale. Does this episode subvert those expectations and give us something memorable? After all, Stranger than Fan Fiction wasn’t exactly tied to one of the bigger plot lines in the series, and that one turned out great! Maybe this one will too! Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with Twilight eagerly heading to the train station with a less eager Spike in tow. The reason for the jubilation seems to be that Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity went together on a boat trip and are now on their way back home; presumably filled with stories of high flying adventure and pirate raids! I bet they can’t WAIT to tell her all about it!!
Okay, so CLEARLY things didn’t go EXACTLY as planned and all three ponies aren’t in the mood to speak to each other. Twilight does manage to pick up on this tension, and tries to broker a Tea Party Peace Summit, but she underestimated just how pissed those three are as they send envoys to deliver a message rather than show up personally.
Since none of them are willing to show up at one place, Twilight decides to go out there and talk to each one of them to find out what the hell happened on that boat, and here’s where we get to the gimmick of the episode. What we have here is a textbook example of the Rashomon Effect (that’s Hoodwinked Effect if you don’t like reading subtitles) where each person is going to give their own account of the story which will have contradictory and self-serving elements that need to be pieced together by the one hearing these stories. That’s actually a REALLY good idea for an episode, and they wouldn’t have to work that hard to fit a moral in at the end so we can focus on how each of the characters perceive not only the boat trip but their friends who were with them. First up is Rarity, and uh… yeah. She certainly has an interesting view of her friends.
So right away Rarity’s story is total bullshit, but we at least can read into this unflattering portrait that she blames Applejack (who I will henceforth refer to as Applejack Sparrow) for what ultimately happened on the boat. So what’s the first thing that happens? Well, Rarity brings out a tray of delicious snacks including cucumber sandwiches but Applejack Sparrow is offended by the fancy foods on display (I’m guessing she’d prefer hardtack and a shoe) and she knocks them all overboard! This is the point where the story gets so out of hand ridiculous that the fourth wall must be broken and Twilight calls bullshit on everything.
Rarity, undeterred by this interruption, continues on with the story and it only gets more ridiculous from there. While Rarity and Pinkie Pie are whacking a piñata, the SS Friendship starts heading towards a horrible storm that’s forming on the horizon. This is no accident though as Applejack Sparrow seems to have had too much rum and is heading straight for it! Rarity, the Good Samaritan that she is, tries to wrestle the map away from her (why doesn’t she go for the wheel!?), and eventually Pinkie Pie starts yanking at it as well for no discernible reason. Eventually, the storm catches up to them and they get caught beneath the waves which is EXACTLY what Applejack Sparrow wanted… for some reason.
The story ends there as Rarity is too emotionally distraught to explain how they made it back to shore, but the point is clear. In this version, Applejack Sparrow went Sea Crazy and nearly crashed the ship for no good reason. Well that’s one story down; only two more to go! Next up is Pinkie Pie who has a very different take on things. From her point of view, Rarity is the one who screwed everything up.
Despite having the entire Swiss Navy Fleet on hand to load her bags onto the ship, they don’t stick around for the ACTUAL trip (and neither do the bags as they’re never seen again) which means it’s still just the three of them onboard. Now as far as the snack fiasco, it plays out a bit differently. Rather than Applejack Sparrow tossing them over in a fit of Sailor’s Rage, Rarity herself throws the cucumber sandwiches overboard as they went out of style in between her giving one to Pinkie and Applejack Sparrow reaching for one. Uh… huh.
Soon afterwards, the storm rolls in and Pinkie Pie wasn’t paying attention to what was going on at the wheel as she sees Rarity and Applejack Sparrow fighting over the map but has no idea why; so we can at least assume there was a fight that broke out. Pinkie Pie ALSO confirms that she really didn’t have a reason to get involved as she thought it was a tug of war fight or something. The boat gets swallowed by the sea again, but honestly the way events play out as Pinkie Pie is telling it doesn’t even seem to put much blame on Rarity. Applejack Sparrow tries to steer the ship away after the tug of war (which at this point seems to be everyone’s fault) and Rarity’s biggest crime seems to be that she was a snob. As far as how they made it out after the crash, well we STILL don’t have an answer as Pinkie Pie is distracted by burning baked goods. I guess she’s still off her game from what happened in Every Little Thing She Does. Last on the list for our intrepid detective is Applejack Sparrow who’s saying that both Pinkie AND Rarity were completely off base with their retelling of the events, and that she’s gonna set the record straight. Hey, she’s the element of honestly! How much embellishment can she REALLY get away with?
Now to be fair, Applejack Sparrow’s story MIGHT be the most accurate, even if her portrayals of her friends are REALLY mean spirited. Pinkie Pie is particularly… well dumb, and Rarity is at her snobbiest (even though her dress is pretty awesome), but the snack fiasco seems combine the two previous accounts and finds a middle ground. Rarity said Applejack Sparrow threw them overboard, Pinkie Pie says Rarity did, and in this case, Rarity lifts up the tray of snacks to keep Pinkie Pie from eating them all and then Applejack Sparrow accidentally knocks into her; spilling the cucumber sandwiches to the briny deep.
The crash itself is similar to the other ones, what with a fight breaking out and no real plan for escape from any of them. Hell, there’s no way TO escape considering the mess they were in, so anypony blaming another pony feels disingenuous which makes it even MORE baffling that the element of Honesty (who still seems to have a somewhat accurate account of the events) places the blame squarely on the other two. At this point, Twilight has all the details that she needs and goes back to her Doom Fortress to ponder the case.
Eventually Twilight puts all the pieces together and finds a way to get all three of them to meet her and Spike at the pier where this all got started. Turns out, the secret was LYING to them! Also, it seems rather elaborate to trick them into meeting her there of all places considering the opening of the episode confirmed they had to get there by TRAIN! Not only that, but they make it there within seconds of each other! Did NONE of them notice that their two most hated ponies at the moment were heading to the exact same place they were!? Needless to say that none of them are too happy about this turn of events, but they’re willing to at least hear Twilight out. Not only that, but there’s no distractions now to keep them from telling Spike (who’s losing his mind over this) what the hell happened after they capsized.
So at this point, I have no idea what to believe. Was the ship we saw in each of the flashbacks the REAL ship, or is this dinky little vessel tied to the dock what they were actually riding in? I kind of hope so considering that the other ship looked WAY more expensive and would have to be sitting at the bottom of the ocean right now, but if that really is the case, then why didn’t the boat look different in each flashback? The ship was one of those consistent elements that didn’t change in any of the iterations (like the cucumber sandwich fiasco and the map fight), so now I’m not sure what the writers want us to believe right now. Either way, they all scramble into a tiny rowboat so that Twilight can get this all straightened out. So what’s the answer? A monster did it. Yup. That’s it. No seriously, when the cucumber sandwiches went overboard, it attracted the Equestrian equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster, which caused a big enough wave to knock the boat over. I’m not sure how the really clears anything up (and it’s a REALLY lame and convenient explanation), but I guess the bigger point is that Twilight has to also point out that each one was only trying to show the others a good time (Rarity with the fancy snacks, Pinkie Pie with the piñata, and Applejack Sparrow with… I guess steering the ship) which is enough for them all to forgive each other! And so the episode ends with The three of them (now the six of them) finally getting that vacation they were hoping for all along!
I really did like this episode and was especially into the Rashomon approach, but the ending was just a let down to what was built up before. It’s just too easy of a solution to point to some water creature and say that they did it rather than to do something clever with the pieces in play. They tried to do that with the cucumber sandwiches being a consistence element, but they were in service of a MacGuffin rather than a solution. Also, it feels like a wasted opportunity to NOT actually show the crash itself and confirm whether or not they actually lost a big ass ship or were really in that tiny boat, and the ambiguity feels unsatisfying here. Still, this is probably one of the better episodes of the season (and definitely of the second half) because they took a chance and did something creative rather than rehash old story lines; similar to the approach taken in The Saddle Row Review, though I still give the edge to that one. Still, it was a great idea to put some Kurosawa into this show, and hopefully they’ll do it again! Seven Samurai? Yojimbo? OH!! THE HIDDEN FORTRESS!! DO THAT ONE!!