• "Simple Ways": Episode Followup

    I remember when the synopsis for this episode landed on the internet last month. I whipped out my phone and sent several threatening texts to the other blogponies (and an ambiguously invitational one to Cereal) to assert my claim on this followup.

    Could've gone worse. We're above knife fights here.

    You know the drill! Hit the break and let's get this followup going.

    And to think just last week they were singing her praises. What a tough cro--WOW that's Vinyl!

    Yeah, sorry, Ponka Truck. You had your episode. Best keep your head down for this one.


    A lot of you seemed mystified over what exactly it was Rarity had won while the episode was premiering. I can only assume these ponies thought Summerween was an actual thing that happened in Equestria, in which case they've really fallen far off the mark.

    I guess there's Derpy, too. She speaks for herself here.

    I never thought to ask if dragons had sweat glands before. They do! That's our takeaway for the episode. Good job everyone, we're done here.

    All right, all right, I'll keep going. Put down the harpoon.

    Here Spike realizes absolutely nothing came of that inconveniently heavy model of Ponyville he carted out from Rarity's.

    It's all even, though! Rarity also realizes she forgot how to ~FABULOUS~ down a flight of stairs.

    Ah, yeah, that Trenderhoof guy Rarity wants to impress so much. I can swing it when she's making cute faces like thi--

    Holy crap.

    You know, I can't really knock Rarity here. That's definitely a Trendercon pass pinned up on the wall there along with a bunch of posters. Pretty normal fan sundries. I mean, okay, the hair clipping's a little weird, but fame and attacks by impromptu barbers are part and parcel in the biz and at least Rarity knows her way around a pair of shears.

    "But what about the bottle?" you ask.

    The bottle? I ask.

    "Yes, the bottle."

    That's... that's perfume. That's most definitely perfume, and not a creepy hoof clipping or some other kind of liquid whatsoever.

    "(Ho ho, just wait 'til the bronies hear about this.)"

    "Did you say something, dear?

    "Absolutely nothing! (Share my pain.)"

    You know, behind those buck teeth and never-laundered shirt, I'm sure there's a pony worth getting to know.

    Hm, there's Uncle Orange, too. Wonder what business AJ's relatives have in Ponyville this time of year?

     I don't think Twilight can tell if Rarity's mocking her super-special "Sunshine, Sunshine" dance with Cadance or if she actually wants to do it with her-- oh, wrong context.

    I think this guy's smiling because he's about to go after twice the mares pony!Flash (never) did AND get away with it on the internet. A lot of you really seemed to like this guy! He certainly drew a lot of parallels with Anthony Bourdain, so I guess it came as a big relief to Rainbow Dash when he showed no interest in eating her.

    Checkmate, Rarijackers.

    I have to confess: my choice for best voice actor wavers from time to time. When this happens, Tabitha up and lays out a delivery like the one in this scene, and oh Lord I'm back on board the S.S.T.S. Germain in no time flat. I'm pretty sure she could voice a session entirely in strangled noises and still outlast everyone else in the recording booth.

    Oh come on, that's just not fair. Stop being adorable, Rarara!

    So while everyone was focused on the not-at-all-subtext flying through Trenderhoof's elf-pony ears, Bon Bon's there in the background reminding Linky of just how many breakable bones her skeleton has if she ever sits next to Lyra again. Yeah, I dunno why Bon Bon would hold onto that three seasons later.

    Did anyone else think this part was hilariously sad? When all I had to go on were the previews, I'd envisioned Trenderhoof as a kind of outdoorsy, PNW-spirited friend of nature. I really should have paid more attention to the name.

    "I whisper to your children at night. They cannot hide."

    Trenderhoof, on the other... Trend, then. Trend, on the other hoof, has a different idea.

    This catches Rarity from so far out of left field that she honestly thought they were playing hockey.

    What I'm trying to say is that Tabitha delivers on Rarity's surprise superlatively well here. Just give her another listen. And a neat trick from the animators, too: Applejack never leaves the focal plane in this shot. There's no doubt where Trend's eyes are right now.

    This passed... someone. Probably at mach two, blasting country music and firing shotguns into the air.

    I'm pretty sure the censors poured themselves their bowls of cereal one morning and out came these blind bags with adorable little daggers hilted in their backs. They must've gotten the message.

    Nope, not touching this.

    Rarity's mascara runs this whole time and it never gets stuck in her coat. Even when she's not dazzling, that's a pretty impressive feat of personal grooming.

    Speaking of impressive feats, Spike's complete failure to process the meaning of pony tears.

    I gotta say, it IS nice that Spike gets to participate in a heart-to-heart like this. The little guy might struggle when he gets his own episodes, but outside of those he's a rock solid support for whoever else has carry duty.

    Not that the job always thrills him:

    Josh Haber's doing something really smart with Trend here, connotations of this screenshot notwithstanding. There are tumblrs out there that'll give you way more information than you'll ever want on being a unicorn as you declare your respect for "the work ethic of earth ponies."

    I'll just say that Trend wasn't wise in approaching AJ from behind like that. It could've ended badly.

    Does that stallion in the foreground on the left have a name? He's the same one what burned his tongue on a flashback fritter last season. (Kinda cute, too.)

    Getting back on topic: Yes, Trenderhoof: I'm sure wanton endangerment of rare apples is the perfect way to endear yourself to the apple brown betty of your eye.

    Meanwhile, Applejack reconsiders her decision to take time off of working on her doctorate at the Maresachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Derpy, unappreciated? Makes sense to me. Let's move along.

    You know, I'd love to see an AJ/Rarity episode where Rarity's the pony on top of things for once.

    Heh. Things.

    Oh, man. First her "gimme back mah wheel" face in "Pinkie Apple Pie", then her side-eye in "Three's a Crowd", and now this part. Applejack is seriously getting all the best "you are not [BUY SOME APPLES] doing this" faces this season.

    I was really excited for a sick-nasty 3X EPISODE STREAK SONG COMBO!!! to happen here, too. Like Rarity about 2 seconds after this, I can't win 'em all.

    Hands up if you thought she was about to hitch Spike up to the plow.

    I was honestly impressed with Rarity when she managed to bag an apple with this scene. I've tried kicking ATMs in all sorts of ways before, but the only prizes I ever won were citations.

    Here's a picture of Applejack coming out of the chicken coop. I'm 100% sure that this has no cultural connotations in Equestria.

    Cereal and I were talking about the number of apples we've seen impaled on horns over the years. A little research brought it to light that the unicorns on the cast got tired of all the flying horseshoes and hospital visits and demanded a switch of props.

    "Applejack! What's going on?"

    "This is one a' them stories, y'all! Ain't no appearance fee worth this."

    Title drop.

    Twilight, don't even bother. Applejack has had "best face" on lockdown this entire episode.

    With Trenderhoof finally out of the frame for a while, a tenth of the fandom commenced squeeing themselves over this scene. There's really nothing I can say that can add onto Tabitha's painfully--painfully--accurate inaccurate country twang.

    Imminent wreckage of booty. I've never seen a face communicate that as clearly as this.

    >More is more
    >Simple Ways

    This horse gets it, I tell ya

    There are a lot of tricks directors use to protect child actors from graphic material on set, and I assure you Rarity used none of them here.

    There's a knife-thin line between "overdoing it" and "overdoing it so much that it's perfectly done", and AJ here's just dancing on the damn thing.

    I'm going to claim I love this part because Applejack knows more about skewering high society than Rarity knows about honoring the life pastoral. Yep, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    Behold the pony everypony should know, everypony.

    Rarity if you can't stop being offensive to every Southern stereotype there is out there I'll never be able to finish this followup

    Yeah, go jump in a puddle, Rarifriends. There's no better evidence for AJ's lock on best pony than this side-by-side smackdown.

    "Oh, you think you're dirty now, sugarcube."

    I don't think Rarity has had a single episode playing across from Applejack where she doesn't get wholly covered in mud. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's becoming a subliminal association with her. "Goodness, Applejack's visiting the Boutique? Better dirty it up a bit."

    And then there's Trenderhoof. Hey, "most interesting pony in Equestria", don't sell yourself too short now.

    Well, this is awkward.

    "I don't know how to dance on three hooves."

    "You're doing fine, sweetie."

    "This is an abomination."

    And so we crash out of the first half of Season 4. Almost quite literally -- everything got wrapped up in about forty-five seconds of screen time. I'd laugh if I wasn't doing the same thing with this followup.

    This was probably the hardest one I've had to do in a while. We returned to a pretty tightly-focused cast this week without a whole lot of background events to get in the way, and there were shiploads of grown-up issues I think kids will appreciate looking back on this episode. In addition to what Rarity said about remaining who you are when wanting someone to like you, it's important not to confuse respecting culture with patronizing it, and that you should always be on the lookout for how your behavior and beliefs comes across to others. Thankfully, Trenderhoof comes around in the end.

    That said, more interaction between Rarity and Applejack is never a bad thing. That back and forth in the third act was almost everything I could have ever asked for from the show. Rarity's idea of a country accent was genuinely painful to listen to, and Tabitha deserves all props for refusing to break in the studio.

    Thanks for reading! CouchCrusader, out.