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 You Don’t Know Applejack! For the first time in a while, it looks like we’re gonna get a flashback episode to the halcyon days of yore for at least one of our regulars, and maybe get some insight into how they became the pony they are now! Will this trip down memory lane be a breath of fresh air as we get to see characters at a different point in their lives, or will we get more of the same despite the chance to change things up a bit? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with The Apple Family providing Filthy Rich with his latest delivery of Zap Apple Jam to sell in his store. I’m surprised that the CEO has to personally transport the goods himself, but maybe there’s something more to this transaction than what we’re seeing…
Filthy Rich rides off into the sunset to start stocking his shelves with his new wares, and Applejack and Big Mac go back into the barn only to find Apple Bloom there which means that something must have gone horribly wrong. Now I’m not sure exactly what happened, but from the sound of it Apple Bloom had packed the crates but accidentally filled them with their Apple Cider as opposed to the jam. I’m a bit confused as to how this mistake would even happen though as you’d think Applejack and Big Mac wouldn’t just throw random boxes onto the cart that they didn’t pack themselves or would at least check to see if they had the right merchandise, but the blame still falls squarely on Apple Bloom once it’s clear that the a mistake has been made. Fortunately they’re able straighten this all out and get Filthy Rich the right crates, even though we don’t see how that happened considering that all took place during the opening credits, and Applejack proceeds to chew Apple Bloom out for lying about saying she gave Filthy Rich the right crates (or at least not being honest about being UNSURE if she gave him the right crates). Again, she just packed the fucking things, and from what I can tell she did a good job of it! Why not put the blame on the two who didn’t bother to check them first or for getting crates that aren’t specifically labeled!? What this is all leading to is Apple Bloom assumes Applejack has never lied so she wouldn’t even know if there was any benefit to it, which means that Granny Smith has to regale her with the tale of… THE BIG LIE!! Okay, she didn’t TITLE the story she’s telling, but needless to say that we’re gonna get a nice histrionic parable about how lying makes baby Jesus cry. Or… baby Celestia. Whoever.
Our story begins… let’s say ten years ago, where Applejack and Big Mac are fighting vociferously over who will be in charge of the farm once Granny kicks the bucket. Big Mac by the way is quite loquacious in the past, so I’m assuming that whatever tragedy is about to unfold is the reason for the more monosyllabic speaking pattern we know today. Applejack wants to expand Sweet Apple Acre’s market while Big Mac is more concerned about perfecting their current distribution network instead of expanding too quickly… or something like that. The point is that they’re not getting along at the moment but both have to go into town to get some pesticide (I didn’t think Equestria would have that) for whatever bugs are killing the Apple’s apple trees. During their errand, they run into Filthy Rich and his soon to be bride who we finally learn is named… Spoiled Milk. Really?
The name Filthy Rich might be on the nose, but compared to Spoiled Milk, it’s downright sensible and at least flattering. WHO WOULD NAME THEIR DAUGHTER THAT!? Why not just call her Bougie Brat if they’re SO determined to make sure you hate them just from the name!? Anyway, Bougie Brat is making no bones about her disdain for lower class dreck and takes great pride in informing these common ponies that her fiancée is now the owner of the Rich’s store since his dad had recently retired. Filthy Rich, without missing a beat (I’m guessing this was all planned), brings up the fact that he wants to try some new ideas with the store and the first on his list is to start selling Sweet Apple Cider which as we all know has always been sold at the farm itself and nowhere else. Applejack immediately jumps on this idea as a way to firmly establish herself as the most qualified to run the farm and promises a trial run of three barrels to see if this kind of arrangement can work out to the benefit of both parties! I’m SURE Granny Smith will go for this plan! It’s not like the Rich family has been trying to get their hands on the exclusive distribution rights for three generations now!
Okay, fine. Applejack should have definitely seen that one coming considering how they’ve been making cider just as long as they’ve been making jam, and the Apples have yet to let the Rich family sell it. Apparently cider spoils IMMEDIATELY once it’s poured from the barrel, which makes it harder to sell in stores rather than at their once a year event. Now obviously there are ways AROUND this (cork individual bottles or sell it on tap in the store) but Granny isn’t about to budge and so Applejack (with Big Mac smiling smugly the entire time) has to go back with her hat in hoof and let Filthy Rich know the deal is off. Where is her hat anyway? Filthy takes this a lot worse than I was expecting him to, and threatens to end all business ties with Sweet Apple Acres over the misunderstanding. Here’s where I guess we get into Applejack’s unforgivable fib, which is that Granny Smith is sick so they don’t have the pony-power to make three extra barrels right now to excuse the lack of merchandise. Yeah, considering how apoplectic Filthy Rich got, I don’t blame her one bit.
See, this is what you get when you don’t understand what a moral is supposed to be. This is supposed to be the story where Applejack learns that telling the truth might be harder but easy lies can backfire. The problem is though that this isn’t her being lazy or abdicating responsibilities. The reaction from Filthy Rich here is so over the top that it’s impossible to see her lie as anything other than necessary at that moment and therefore undercuts the message we’re supposed to be getting. Maybe they want to keep Applejack from looking the slightest bit bad or maybe they just wanted to set a REALLY unrealistically high bar for honesty always being the right answer (even if it completely decimates your family business), but neither scenario is at all satisfying or relatable. Kids aren’t stupid and real life is messy, so maybe this show could ease up a bit and not make this so black and white. Maybe I’m asking for too much realism in a show about magic horses, but I’m not the one who’s asking for this show to have a message every episode! Let’s go ahead and see how this plays out, even though I’m sure we can all take an educated guess.
The episode goes all Eighties Shenanigans Movie on us where Filthy Rich drops by later with Bougie Brat to check in on Granny, and Applejack has to keep her out of sight while also coming up with more excuses to keep Filthy Rich at bay. Big Mac by the way is just hemming and hawing over all of this and isn’t letting Applejack forget how disappointed he is, but I don’t see him telling the truth to Filthy Rich so either he can end all this now or shut the fuck up as far as I’m concerned. In fact, Applejack straight out asks him if telling Filthy Rich the truth initially (that Granny wouldn’t allow the barrels to be sold and therefore breaking the promise Applejack made) was the better option even if it led to their business relationship being destroyed, and he didn’t have a god damn thing to say about it! In the list of bad options available, my only issue so far is that Applejack is BAD at lying. For some reason she keeps escalating the situation rather than downplaying things and it eventually gets to the point that Granny’s in the hospital with Apple Rot or something rather than say… telling them that she’s sleeping right now. Yeah, why not that excuse? If that’s not enough, throw in that she’s got something infectious and she’d feel just awful if she gave it to somepony else. Instead, she just makes the situation worse and now Filthy Rich and Bougie Brat are going to see her at the hospital.
Alright, so since Applejack doesn’t have an ACTUAL plan right now (and Big Mac is still being a jerk about all this), she has to convince Granny to go to the hospital; not to get Filthy Rich and Bougie Brat off their backs by having her pretend to be sick, but because… actually I don’t know. What the hell is Granny supposed to do at the hospital if she’s not in on the plan!? It’s not like these two are gonna parade her in front of Filthy Rich without letting her in on the scheme, which they certainly don’t want to do! Hell, they even dress her up in scrubs so no one can recognize her!
So Granny Smith is dragged to the hospital with the lie that the doctors need her help on an outbreak of Apple Rot, and Filthy Rich and Bougie Brat are looking for Granny’s room while Applejack tries to come up with yet another idea to fix this. She decided to grab a gurney, stick Big Mac in it, and have him moan under the sheets for Filthy Rich and Bougie Brat to hear while Granny… I don’t know, hides in a corner. Again, WHY DID THEY BRING HER ALONG!? Big Mac, ever the bellyacher yet still not willing to stop Applejack, agrees to the plan and it does seem like a way to finish off this whole convoluted mess. That is until the hospital proves that they should get their asses sued for malpractice on a daily basis, because one of the nurses grabs Big Mac’s gurney and drags it to an operating theater. No one checked the charts which wouldn’t even be on a freaking gurney, and no one even LOOKED at the patient first. Not only that, but Granny wanders into the theater and assumes this is the case she’s consulting on and suggests they cut off the victims legs; an option the other doctors find completely reasonable… without verifying the identity of the doctor who suggested it. WOW.
So to save her brother from unabashed incompetence, she has to tell everyone the truth and to ACTUALLY look under the sheet before they start hacking away. I’m still having trouble getting over this. WHAT ABOUT THE FACT THAT THERE’S NO MESSAGE WRITTEN ON THEIR LIMB TO INDICATE THAT IT NEEDS TO BE CUT OFF!? Yeah, did they not know that patients write on themselves to indicate what limb to cut is a common practice to MAKE SURE something like this doesn’t happen? Anyway, Applejack pulls the sheet back to reveal Big Mac (at least SOMEONE did that before the operation began!) and confesses that she had to lie in order to protect her business and that she couldn’t fathom how stupid the rest of the world would be. Okay, MAYBE I embellished there, but whatever. The lesson is learned and Granny even tells Filthy Rich to cut the shit or she’ll go straight to his grandpa… so I guess that’s all taken care of too. Oh, and Big Mac promises to not talk as much as I guess doing so is what pushed Applejack into making the deal in the first place? I’m not quite sure that was the issue, and he might have gone a bit overboard with that promise considering he can only communicate with a Yay or Nay, but whatever. Everyone’s happy and no one got unnecessary surgery! And so the episode ends with Apple Bloom learning a very important lesson about never underestimating the incompetence of your fellow ponies! That was the whole point of this, right?
This episode is really frustrating as it’s a perfect example of how this show can easily get in its own way by trying to be too many things at once. I’ve maintained that not every episode has to have a moral to work, but this would have been a really good chance to prove that wrong considering how perfect the setup is for that kind of story as the framing device is LITERALLY telling us a parable! Unfortunately, they also decided that this is going to be another one of their safe episodes which means that no one can come across as unlikable; making it impossible to reconcile a character who seems perfect and completely within the bounds of reason to be taught a moral lesson. The episode has to contort itself into knots just so that they don’t have to bend Applejack even the slightest bit into a duplicitous or self-serving character, and so everything else ends up suffering as it has to work around this unreasonable requirement. Doctors are stupid, Applejack has to act dumb to move the plot along, and Big Mac comes off as a whiner considering he doesn’t act on his convictions and instead goes with what Applejack is asking him to do. Compare this to Hell or High Water where Ben Foster’s character is just as aware of how stupid his sibling’s plan is as Big Mac is here, but he made a choice to support him and follow through on that! There’s a level of respect there that I can’t have for Big Mac who won’t do anything to change the situation while kvetching about it the entire time. I liked seeing these characters as younger versions of themselves, and I honestly wish that Big Mac would talk more often as his non-complaining dialogue is pretty good, but this just felt like a wasted opportunity and not a great episode to stick this late in the season.