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 Mike Myhre
We’re back with another My Little Pony recap, and while I would normally start this off with a hilarious pun, I’m pretty sure the title is already a reference to a John Cusack movie so doing another play on words would be pretty redundant! We’re two episodes down in another CMC cycle, neither of them being particular highlights of this season, leaving us with only this Apple Bloom episode before presumably moving on to something else! Will this outshine the other two we’ve gotten so far and one of the CMC’s standout episodes, or will this end up just as ho-hum as everything else we’ve gotten from them this season? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with the CMC rummaging through some old costumes in the hopes of using them for future shenanigans and/or Cutie Mark Crusading jobs. Supposedly these are from when they put on their concert all the way back in season one (The Show Stoppers), but I don’t remember them using any of these particular accessories. Maybe these were the backup outfits just in case the audience wanted an encore.
Luckily enough, these costumed detectives get their first case the trio begin to focus on Big Mac who’s going to take a shipment of apples to… whatever that village that Starlight enslaved is called (unless we’re still going with The Town With No Name which is actually pretty awesome). Now you may be asking, what’s so interesting about that? Isn’t that what he’s SUPPOSED to be doing? Well it turns out that he’s been delivering HUGE shipments of apples to that village EVERY DAY THIS WEEK (I guess it’s really not THAT far away) and when pressed for a reason for this uptick in business, he just blushes and looks away. The CMC start to put their heads together and decide to stow away in his cart to find out what he’s REALLY up to! As with any good detective story, following some schmo around inevitably leads straight to a dame and X marks the spot right on a pony named Sugar Belle who did in fact appear in previous episodes but honestly didn’t leave much of an impression on me. Either way, there is CLEARLY some funny business going on here!
Okay, it’s not quite THERE yet (this is still a kids show after all), but the repeated apple delivers are CLEARLY not a coincidence; especially considering she has enough apples already to feed the town for six months; let alone to bake with in her shop. Of course, they can’t confess their feelings to each other JUST YET (where would the conflict be!?) and so Big Mac leaves without either one of them confessing his feelings to the other; something that the Cutie Mark Crusaders will not STAND for!! They confront Big Mac who’s actually pretty forthright about his feelings, and convince him to march up to her door with his metaphorical hat in his hands and heart on his sleeves! That is until SHENANIGANS ENSUE when some dude, OUT OF NOWHERE, knocks his big ass down and starts schmoozing it up with Sugar Belle! WHAT!?
This suave Justin Bieber wannabe (or I guess Shawn Mendes wannabe if I don’t want to sound dated) is named Feather Bangs (I REALLY hope he goes bald with a name like that) and… as far as I can tell is not an actual pony. Like… he’s supposed to be a Gaston type (complete with a trio of swooning ponies in his wake), but at least Gaston had character and motivation. This dude is literally here to give Big Mac a hard time and nothing else. Hell, he doesn’t even TALK to Big Mac at any point, nor acknowledge his presence as far as I can tell. This has to be the most empty and one note character the show has ever come up with which is weird for a show that tends to do a pretty great job of populating this world with interesting ponies. Then again, having him act SO cliché and one note instead of fleshing out his character does give Big Mac and the CMC more time to themselves and they start devising a plan to win back Sugar Belle’s heart. I mean… it’s not like Big Mac couldn’t just ASK her about it. Heck, even if she IS into this floppy haired ladies buck, doesn’t NECESSARILY mean she doesn’t want Big Mac as well! What, a kid’s show can’t be progressive!? Actually, it’s pretty much the OPPOSITE of that as the CMC’s big ideas include some of the worst sitcom clichés that are PRETTY cringe-worthy to see in a modern show like this. If you need an example, the very first idea they have is to get Scootaloo to rob Sugar Belle and to have Big Mac stop her. Wow. We’re really dusting off that old chestnut?
I get that the show is CLEARLY indicating that this kind of pick up technique is inherently flawed, but BOY is it uncomfortable to watch the scene play out. There’s no ifs ands or buts about it. Scootaloo just robbed her! That’s pretty messed up!! Now naturally it doesn’t work because it turns out that Feather Bangs is some sort of teleporter and manages to get Sugar Belle’s bag back before Big Mac is able to step in, and so they have to come up with ANOTHER plan to win her over. Who wants to guess that the next one is just as cringe worthy as the last?
Ugh… you know people seem to be rather dismissive of that Maleficent movie, but at least it managed to call attention to the overwhelmingly creepy (and patriarchal) nature of fairy tales WITHOUT being really uncomfortable to sit through. Again, the plan doesn’t work but not because someone realizes JUST HOW WRONG IT IS TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS TO SOMEONE WHO’S SLEEPING, but because Dreamy McDreamboat swoops in at the last second (after she’s woken up) and takes her away. At this point I’m starting to root for HIM to win this little lover’s quarrel because so far he hasn’t tried to get her hurt (or emotionally scarred) to get her attention, nor has he tried to force himself on her when she isn’t able to consent! Of course we’re supposed to see these missteps as much more innocent so as not to actively root against Big Mac and so he’s getting ONE more chance to win her heart which is with a musical number! Oh, I’m sorry. A COMPETING musical number as Feather Bangs; seemingly having read Big Mac and the CMCs mind, ALSO shows up to do his own song; completely with back-up singers like this is a Foalz 2 Colts tribute band and it’s just as corny as that sounds. Seriously, she doesn’t have to choose EITHER of these dudes, right?
Sure enough, this unmitigated chaos (all of which is happening in the middle of her freaking bakery by the way) does very little to engender her to either side and she kicks BOTH of them out for acting so foolish! Good for her! She doesn’t need ANY of this peacocking crap interrupting her life! Stick to your career because all men suck! Yes, even Big Mac who’s clearly genuine in his feelings for her, but is still being led along by these three knuckleheads and wasn’t above posturing when the pretty boy was getting in his way. Still, he manages to impart the message of the episode to the CMC which is that using fairy tales and big romantic gestures as the basis for relationships in the real world never work out. Wow. That’s a PERFECT message that should be imparted to the target audience of this show (especially considering how often entertainment aimed at kids say the exact opposite), but I’m having trouble embracing it because of what we saw up to this point. If Big Mac knew this, he shouldn’t have gone along with the CMC this entire time; especially when they were telling him to ASSAULT HER WHEN SHE WAS ASLEEP!! It’s precisely BECAUSE these three didn’t know better (wait, didn’t we just get an episode about them having grown up?) that Big Mac should have been responsible enough to tell them NO when they were making such ludicrous (and outright dangerous) suggestions. Even if he was too flustered by his feelings for Sugar Belle to not be thinking clearly about this stuff… well, too bad! That’s no excuse for making her miserable all day!
So after all these big romantic gestures that went nowhere, Big Mac’s idea to win Sugar Belle back is… a big romantic gesture. Okay fine, it’s not QUITE that, but it DOES involve deception as well as breaking and entering! While Sugar Belle is out running errands, Big Mac and Apple Bloom sneak into her bakery to build a new display counter (the old one was too small and got ruined in the song number rampage) while Scootaloo is trying to distract Sugar Belle to give them enough time to finish it. Sweetie Belle is… the lookout I guess. Once they’re done and Sugar Belle sees this incredibly practical gift, all is forgiven and they finally get together! Who wants to be we get another wedding episode next season!?
Oh, but there’s still one loose thread to tie up before we end this! WHAT ABOUT FEATHER BANGS!? If your response was “who cares” then I would normally be right there with you, but they actually do something interesting here with his character. After one last failed attempt to win Sugar Belle’s heart (oh hey! A direct reference to Say Anything!), the CMC inform him that she’s finally made up her mind and has gone with Big Mac instead. Still a bit presumptuous on their part (she didn’t SAY she didn’t want to see him too!), but they do inform him that his cadre of dedicated groupies would be more than happy to take her place; never once by the way mentioning that he should just pick ONE of them! Not only that, but he finally confesses that he’s all flash and no substance when it comes to building the foundations of a lasting relationship and so he asks for the CMC’s help in talking to girls. Now I’m not sure how much help they’ll be considering how close they came to screwing it up for Big Mac, but I like that they managed to give this dude just the tiniest bit of depth before we finish the story. And so the episode ends with the CMC ready to take on their latest challenge! Hopefully things will go much smoother this time around!
This is kind of the opposite of the problem I have with a lot of MLP episodes in that it’s a pretty rocky episode throughout but is somewhat salvaged by the message at the end. It’s a REALLY great message to have for the target audience and I even like how it directly points a finger at fairy tales for these kinds of expectations put on relationships. Unfortunately it’s what we need to go through in order to get to that point that drags this episode down, and I don’t think the writers TRULY comprehended just how bad some of the behavior the CMC talked Big Mac into really is. Sure, their actions are framed as poor ones, but it’s also treated way too lightly as if the problem is that they were awkward attempts at courtship rather than outright harmful ones. Look, I’m not the biggest CMC fan and this series of episodes have further solidified my general opinion that I can take or leave almost all of their episodes. Hopefully the season will pick up again now that all three of them have had an episode and we can start focusing on other ponies. Can we finally get that Starlight/Maud/Trixie episode!?