Monday, 5 October 2015

Episode review: S5E17: "Brotherhooves Social"

Apple Bloom and 'Orchard Blossom' sing a duet
"Do you know the way to Amareillo?"
It looks as though a fourth Equestria Girls film is on its way. Hardly surprising, since we know the pony movie is scheduled for 2017, meaning there's a film-shaped gap in 2016. Well, there was. Personally, I thought the third film was weaker than Rainbow Rocks, so I hope this one can pick up the pace again.

Anyway, back to the main series. This week we have "Brotherhooves Social", an episode written by Dave Polsky, who last graced the Pony screens with the distinctly moderate "Appleoosa's Most Wanted". After the break, we'll see how he did.

The episode takes place almost simultaneously with "Made in Manehattan" – Applejack does feature, but only to set up her and Rarity's summoning by the Cutie Map. This gimmick was used in late Season 3, with the pair then being "Just for Sidekicks" and "Games Ponies Play". Those episodes were okay, as far as filler eps go, but "Brotherhooves Social" makes better use of the main cast's absence. We even get a song: a nice duet that was meant to be between AJ and Apple Bloom, but which AB actually has to share with... well, enter an unhappy Big McIntosh.

This was Big Mac's episode, the first in which he's been unequivocally the star. He's played supporting roles occasionally before ("Filli Vanilli" being an example), but this was something else. Peter New showed yet again what a versatile voice actor he was, and his "Orchard Blossom" managed to avoid sounding like those screeching "housewives" that often date Monty Python sketches so badly. His crowning glory, though, was the immensely touching final scene, in which he confessed his sadness to Apple Bloom and the two were reconciled.
Big Mac tries to cheer up his little sister
"Now come on, Big Mac, it ain't Nightmare Night just yet."
Talking of Apple Bloom, she was an absolute pain for a good part of this episode. She complained when Applejack was called away, was sulky about what Big Mac was doing, humiliated him when he brought out her fillyhood toy, and much else besides. Although she was turned around by the end of the ep, it was a bit tiring to watch. Still, AB is growing up, and maybe she's just entering her teenage years now. Which, of course, leads to wondering whether a certain mark-related rite of pony passage may take place before long...

The Sisterhooves Social was (to nobody's surprise) a feature this time, and from what we saw of it, it does seem to work much the same as it did before. (Pushing hay is still really hard.) It was noticeable that Sweetie Belle didn't seem too fussed about finding a surrogate sister, but Scootaloo was another matter. I loved the way that she and Rainbow Dash bonded in this episode, and that fact that they were accepted as sisters was nice foreshadowing for what happened later on with Big Mac and Apple Bloom.

A few viewers have apparently objected to this episode on the grounds that they felt it was insulting towards trans people. I am not qualified to judge such things, and it's sad if some people have felt upset by it. All I can say is that the small sample of trans reviewers I know of have been either actively positive towards this episode (on the grounds that Mac was not judged or insulted for what he did – other than by his own sister!) or at least neutral; the negative reactions do seem to in the minority. Incidentally, Peter New has tweeted that his own sister is trans.

Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash prepare for the Sisterhooves Social race
Poor Rainbow: she'll never live down being this adorable
I enjoyed this episode a good deal more than last week's, weirdness or not. It gave us something different in terms of both the focus on a non-Mane Six relationship and the focus on a stallion showing his feelings. The final scene was by far the best thing in it, and was deeply moving – I admit to there being some personal reasons for that in my case, but it seems to have been a widely held view. Apple Bloom was a bit of a brat, but it was okay in context and doesn't stop this episode scraping into four-star territory.

Best quote: Sweetie Belle: "That's Big Mac in a dress."

  • The beautiful closing scene: feels at their best
  • The acceptance shown to Big Mac by everyone
  • Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo being sisters!
  • A much better "simul-ep" than the S3 effort
  • The song, despite... er... that, was really rather sweet
  • Apple Bloom was frequently rather dislikeable
  • No cameo for Smarty Pants? :(


  1. "managed to avoid sounding like those screeching "housewives" that often date Monty Python sketches so badly."

    You are so dead to me.

    1. Monty Python I generally like. (A lot, in the case of Life of Brian.) Just not that bit of it.

  2. A very solid episode. Did enjoy Rainbow Dash being a sister to Scootaloo. It just proves how much development she has had from the beginning of the show.

    1. There's no "like" button here, so I'll just say: yes!

  3. I don't agree with those people who think this is transphobic. Sounds just like how some people think MLP is racist...

    I'll bet people who think Rainbow and Scootaloo are sisters will be proud though :D

    1. They are sisters! Adoptive sisters maybe, but that's good enough. :)

    2. I agree; it's always good to adopt someone too :D