Sunday, 9 February 2014

Episode review: "Simple Ways" (S4E13)

Rarity loves being covered in mud
Has Rarity been taking sight lessons from Derpy?
Good heavens, we've got to the half-way point of Season 4 of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic already! Time flies when you're having fun, I suppose. Anyway, this week's episode had a suspiciously Valentiney feel to its synopsis, unsurprising given its air date. The writer was Josh Haber, who was responsible for the fun but slightly offbeat "Castle Mane-ia". Would he do a good job with this new ep? After the break, we'll find out the answer!

This was a Rarity/Applejack episode, the first one of those we've had since "Look Before You Sleep" right back in the early days. That time, Twilight was heavily involved too, but for this episode the rest of the Mane Six played only bit parts. Actually, an awful lot of ponies played bit parts: Granny Smith was present and correct, as were Mayor Mare, Snowflake (oh all right, Bulk Biceps), Big Mac, the CMC and even Dinky. I'm not sure they were all necessary, especially as they took up time that we could have done with nearer the end of the episode.

The main guest pony was Rarity's latest love interest, Trenderhoof. I can't say I was a huge fan of his, as he was a bit of a pain – but then I suppose I wasn't supposed to be. I was a little bit surprised that Rarity got quite so obsessed with him (to the extent of having a lock of his mane in a jar!) after the debacle with Prince Blueblood, but hay ho. It was interesting to see Spike's reaction to all this as well – especially one priceless sideways glance across the fourth wall which really made the first half worthwhile.

Applejack eats an apple
This is somehow really, really disturbing
I wasn't all that gripped by the underlying storyline, which was somewhat clich├ęd. Female is obsessed by male, who is himself obsessed with a different female, who herself doesn't like him. In all honesty, that seems disappointing for My Little Pony, a show which is all about its strong female characters. I know it's canon that Rarity is the way she is, but even so. And honestly, guys, did you have to go quite that far along the shipping lanes with those AJ close-ups? This was a little uncomfortably close to a "for the bronies" ep in that regard.

The best thing about this episode was Tabitha St. Germain. We were told months ago that this ep "broke Tabitha", and now we realised just why. It must take a phenomenal amount of skill to do what she did in giving Rarity a ridiculous fake country accent while still keeping her very much Rarity. The later scenes, including "Apple Jewel", were absolutely hilarious throughout, and actually drag up my final score a bit from the rather mediocre rating it was heading for throughout the first half.

Apart from the supporting cast I've already mentioned, there was yet another piece of blatant Derpying. "Unappreciated?" Really? Not by the fandom, she's not! I can't help wondering if that line was intended as some sort of subtle dig at someone in high places. Probably it wasn't and I'm just overanalysing in the way that so many bronies do. We didn't get a song, but we did get Trenderhoof's poem with its all-too-predictable (but still amusing) non-rhyme in the last line! Oh, and props to the artists for those lovely "pencil-effect" flipchart drawings.

Rarity's posh pencil drawings
Aunt and Uncle Orange would have come in handy here
I did like the moral that this episode came up with. Okay, it's not the most original message in the world, but being the person you are, rather than the person you think others want you to be, is certainly a laudable aim. All in all, then, this was a moderate episode that I think would have been straightforward filler had it not been for Rarity's increasingly ludicrous attempts to be a country pony. ("Come on, farm thing!") Trenderhoof was just too dull to deserve a second chance, I'm afraid.

Best quote: Rarity: "I love being covered in mud!"

Yays
  • Tabitha St. Germain's genius turn as Country Rarity, y'all
  • Good to look at, especially those pencil drawings
  • A solid, if slightly unoriginal, moral at the end
  • Spike's sideways glance at the camera
Neighs
  • The pacing seemed a little off: the last third felt rushed
  • Trenderhoof really wasn't a very interesting semi-antagonist
  • The underlying plot was not exactly the most original
  • Was this one really made mainly for six-year-olds?
7/10

4 comments:

  1. This was an episode I did like, but I think it perhaps "suffered" a bit from following the outstanding previous episode. It was suitably silly at times, and was a lot of fun, so there's no doubt it was a really enjoyable one nonetheless. Especially once Rarity started talking in "country speak" which was frankly hilarious. I can't say I expected that at all - and for the most part the episode was nicely unpredictable.

    I'd have to agree that Trenderhoof isn't really a character that I can see being likely to make a reappearance. He was rather a one trick pony. *Ahem* Unfortunately I also couldn't help but keep thinking of Trenderman, particularly when he first appeared in that initial outfit which made me think of this:-

    http://static1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20121027154536/theslenderman/images/0/0f/Trenderman.jpg

    And I couldn't quite decide what to think of Those Applejack Moments(tm) such as the one you have a screengrab of above. And the rather swishy walk around 17 minutes in when she's on the catwalk (along with the subsequent pout)... The photos/polaroids that were shown around 18 minutes in were perhaps a bit on the cheeky side too. But still, as a whole it was a decent episode!

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    2. Those Applejack Moments(tm) were... something, definitely. As you may have noticed, I used a screengrab from a second or two after the one certain other bronies homed in on. That was deliberate...

      It'll be interesting to see how I rate this episode when I watch the whole season again after E26 has aired. It's sandwiched between two fantastic episodes, which won't do it any favours, I suspect. But Country Rarity may still save it.

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  2. Another Great S4 episode but it stood in the shadow of Pinkie Pride.

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