Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Why Applejack and Fluttershy don't go well together

Consider the various possible combinations of two of the Mane Six. We've seen most of them used in the show at one time or another. Rainbow and Pinkie? "Griffon the Brush Off". Rarity and Fluttershy? "Green Isn't Your Color". Twilight and Rainbow? "Read It and Weep". You get the idea. One pairing we haven't seen very much of, though, is that of Applejack and Fluttershy. Oh, we got a taste of it in "Bats!" but that's really about as close as we've ever come to an episode written around those two.

Why is this? You might argue that Applejack would find the timid Fluttershy rather tiresome – but I think that underestimates the pegasus terribly. I think there's another reason, which is that AJ may actually be a little too wary of Fluttershy for them to become one of the great partnerships. This may sound ridiculous given Applejack's tendency to take everything head-on and Fluttershy's tendency to, well, not take everything head-on... but bear with me. My argument is that Fluttershy is too strong-willed for AJ to deal with for long periods of time.

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Flutters, and that I think she's enormously undervalued by some fans of the show. One reason I didn't enjoy much of Season 3 was that I felt 'Shy was too often written as a pony who was either terrified or aggressively overprotective. "Magic Duel" saw her manage both at once, and this is a reason why that episode is not among my favourites. I'm a good deal happier with her portrayal in S4: "Filli Vanilli", for example, showed her character development. She's come quite a way since S1E1, because her friends have helped her on that journey.

But back to my central argument. Applejack – like the Apple Family in general – is brave and combative. "Faithful and strong", she's willing to charge into the fray for the sake of her friends and family. In "Spike at Your Service", she took on and beat the timberwolves. In "Somepony to Watch Over Me", she vanquished a chimera – and, so we can infer from the fact that she had the required items ready, she'd done this before. (As an aside, the last episode pleased me in that it reinforced the notion that Equestria is decidedly not a safe place. That continues a tradition stretching back to G1.)

So AJ is pretty awesome. But Fluttershy is even more so. In "Dragonshy" she shamed a huge dragon into moving elsewhere. In "It's About Time", she sorted out Cerberus. In "Stare Master", she out-stared a cockatrice that had petrified Twilight, an already notably powerful unicorn who was being cautious and whose knowledge would certainly have told her a cockatrice might be in the Everfree Forest. And 'Shy's more than once shown herself to be the best able of all the Six to cope with Discord – who is, as far as we know, the single most powerful and dangerous entity in the entire world.

But now let's return to "Bats!" Remember, this whole episode takes place squarely on Applejack's home turf at Sweet Apple Acres. Yet Fluttershy argues strongly for the bats' welfare during the song sequence, only giving in when every single one of her close friends has ganged up on her. Flutters doesn't quite manage to refuse the request to use her Stare (and regrets this in the episode's final scene) but I suspect she might have refused if the unspecified "more extreme measures" Applejack mentioned had ever been put into practice.

And what happens at the end of this episode? Fluttershy wins on every count. The bat sanctuary is set up, Applejack apologises profusely and 'Shy's closest friend (Rainbow Dash) is happy because of the promise of more cider. Applejack cares deeply about Fluttershy ("I just want my friend back") but that doesn't mean she wants to spend as much time with her as with some of the other Mane Sixers. AJ can deal with RD, since they're such kindred spirits anyway, but she can't deal with someone who is so shy and so strong-willed.


  1. Now that was certainly an interesting read. And it's something I hadn't really ever considered before, but it does make a lot of sense and I've alerted the authorities.

    Although in my case I'm very much a Pinkie addict, I've said before that Fluttershy is very much a close second, and without a doubt I *personally* think she's the most complex of all the characters. Certainly when she's written well, or as she *should* be written. It was seen right from her first appearance. Very quiet and shy as you'd expect... until she saw Spike. And suddenly, because she was so excited at seeing a baby dragon and this was something she knew about, she gained a sudden confidence that at first you wouldn't have expected. And we know from the various stories that there is a line she won't cross. Okay, so the Iron Will debacle wasn't the way to go about boosting her confidence, but it did seem to have the effect that she won't be pushed into doing things that she doesn't want to, as seen in Filli Vanilli. She *wanted* to sing, and did so in her own way, but by the end she didn't want to take things too fast.

    And with that in mind, AJ in comparison is fairly straightforward. What you see is what you get with AJ, almost always. Perhaps with Fluttershy, that has some bearing on it all.

    I do wonder about Pinkie and Rarity, because I can't actually recall an episode that has really centered about them both, and I'm not really sure how well those two would get along in a story dedicated to just them.

    1. Thanks very much for reading and commenting! :) I'm actually liking Applejack herself more in S4, so this certainly wasn't an anti-AJ post in any way. But in "Bats!" there's no doubt who won on the day.

      I do have some ideas for a fanfic that will go into Fluttershy's background a little, but the problem is that the history that makes the most sense to me is pretty heartbreaking in places. I really want to write happy ponyfic, but I keep getting ideas for sadfics! :S

      Good point about Pinkie and Rarity. "Green Isn't Your Color" and "MMMystery..." are probably the closest we've come. But now I want to see an ep written around the pair of them!