• "Appleloosa's Most Wanted": Episode Followup


    At the sound of approaching hoofsteps, Troubleshoes smiled and laid back against the ground. The dust beneath him clung yellow on his coat, but the sky overhead was clear blue and endless in all directions.

    "That was amazing, Troubleshoes!" Scootaloo said, she being the first one to reach him. "That was the best rodeo clown show ever!"

    Troubleshoes smiled, and with the last of his strength lifted a hoof up to her cheek. "All thanks to you," he said, speaking as much to her as to her two little friends who'd just come to join her. "I'm proud of ya. All of ya. Every stallion wants his... children to be... better than he was. You are."

    As he lay back and felt his strength leave him, Sweetie Belle furrowed her brow. "Um... what?"

    "Now, don't you worry," Applejack said, pulling her close as Troubleshoes closed his eyes. "This may seem a lonesome place to leave him, but he's not alone. Because many of his kind rest here with him."

    Though all three fillies were thinking it, Apple Bloom was the first to speak up. "What... are you talkin' about, AJ?"

    "The rodeo... was like a mother to Troubleshoes," Applejack went on, staring off towards the horizon as if in a trance. "He belonged to her. She cared for him while he lived... and she's nursing him while he sleeps."

    All three fillies looked at each other, and gradually the reality of the situation sank in. "Is..." Sweetie Belle said. "Is this another one of those long-winded movie references that Aquaman always starts his followups with?"

    Applejack didn't answer right away, but as she let out a sigh and angled her hat over her eyes, a smile could be seen dancing across her lips.

    "Sure is, sugarcube," she murmured. "Sure is."

    My name is Aquaman, this is the "Appleoosa's Most Wanted" episode followup, and if you all up there are quite finished, let's get back on the trail again. We're burnin' daylight.

    It's not a real rodeo until somebody wakes up in a house they don't recognize with rope burns they don't remember getting.

    It's always nice when characters take the first available opportunity to explain their motivations for being wherever they are. Apple Bloom's here to cheer on her big sister, Scootaloo is frightfully optimistic about how well-suited she'd be to rodeo culture, and Sweetie Belle likely doesn't know what a rodeo is but just thought it'd be fun to come along and help.

    That, or she watched Dallas Buyers Club when Rarity wasn't home and sorely misinterpreted the film's central acronym.

    Aside from Braeburn, Sheriff Silverstar's honestly a welcome sight back in the starting lineup for this show too. A world without ten-gallon hats and facial hair you could wax a Model T with is a sore one indeed.

    Maybe it's machismo. Maybe it's Maybelline.

    Also, Scootaloo's confused head tilt stands as further evidence that pegasi are basically birds with hooves and boop-enabled beaks.

    Not that it's any of your business (it is, though, sorry), but I'm glad canon pegs Sweetie Belle as the Nervous Nellie of the group. Aside from being fitting, it's an endearing point on her Best Horse tally that she's the only one of the three who's fully aware of her prepubescent-filly-ness.

    "I don't care how cool you'd look in sunglasses, Apple Bloom. I'm not calling you or Scootaloo 'Dog'."

    "And that goes for you too, Mr. Ominous Cold Open Foreshadowing!"

    And here I was thinking they were gonna go all Burning Man on that giant haystack to kick off the rodeo's Opening Ceremonies. Turns out, it's an actual event and the whole reason AJ's here in the first place. Do you suppose the other four switch off who gets to be on top, or are the positions assigned from Day 1? Is there such a thing as the National Equestrian Haystacking League? One wonders, and by one I mean "literally one person, and it's me".

    Anyway, here's that guy everypony's happy-like-a-Christmas-carol for.

    Sidenote from that title card, though: is it "Appleoosa" or "Appleloosa"? I've seen it stylized both ways, and given that the snippets of Equestrian language we've seen amounted to Wingding noodles stir-fried in horse-oglyph sauce, I doubt we'll see a proper spelling inside of the show.

    Mandatory Apple Horse "Aw Shucks, Hon" Face #1.

    Swiftly followed by Mandatory Apple Horse "Historically Bad At Remembering Where Ponies Are Injured" Move #2.

    It's a little throwaway line, but AJ mentioning that all the rodeos around Ponyville have closed down is more than a little telling. First of all, yes, dammit, there is a National Equestrian Haystacking League and don't you dare me that implies otherwise. Second of all, though, that's an awful lot of territory for Troubleshoes to cover without anypony being able to find him after the fact. I mean, not to rag on a bunch of candy-scented cart-pullers too hard, but if we're being honest with ourselves, he's... not that hard to spot.

    In any case, did we ever get an explanation for how precisely Braeburn managed to injure himself? No? Awesome. Time to do what I do best and make wildly irresponsible assumptions.

    "... butter-churnin'."
    "You sprained your ankle, cracked the bone in four places, and had to have your house professionally cleaned for three days straight because you had an accident... churnin' butter."
    "Butter's, uh... real hard to get outta linens."

    Ooh, a rare sighting: an Apple Horse "Lying To The Element of Honesty Is The Definition of a Bad Time" Face #7 and an Apple Horse "Woe Unto Me And My Poor Splintered Churner" Face #13.

    Fun fact: if you put a blanket over a pegasus's head, they'll think it's nighttime and go to sleep. Oversized cactus hats will also do in a pinch.

    Props to Applejack for saving the kids from that falling haybale, though. That took some quick thinking to save all three of them at once.

    Or, uh... well, two out of three ain't bad.

    "Look, it's either situational irony or 'O, Susanna' for the four hundredth time."

    I always get a kick out of watching the backgrounds in any FiM crowd scene, particularly in the last couple seasons. You notice a lot more little motions and unheard conversations going on behind the main action, and all of them give the scenes that extra spark of life.

    No, not that kind of spark. Settle down, Pancho.

    "Don't this seem a little extreme for somepony who just knocked over a haystack?"
    "Beats me, Yellow. I'm just the Sheriff's nephew. I don't even really know what a 'deputy' is."
    "You callin' me 'yellow', Blue?"
    "I... but your name is... never mind. We already did this joke last week."

    I love the fact that the sheriff stomps off after his pump-up speech in the classic bow-legged "cowboy" stance. The fact that said stance stemmed from cowboys being saddlesore from riding horses all day has seemingly been lost on him.

    "I promise, Applejack, ya ain't got nothin' to worry about. You go catch that hardened criminal with a long history of almost-violence, and I'll stay right here with the young-uns and keep recoverin' from that candlestick-polishin' incident."
    "I thought you said you were churnin' butter?"
    "And I thought you said you were leavin' now!"

    You'd think there'd be a better choice for a foalsitter in a town full of rodeo clowns, but on the other hand, Braeburn's got like three locks on his door. That little one-room wooden shack guarded by a narcoleptic with a bum leg is basically impenetrable.

    Braeburn: good with home security, good with kids.

    Almost as good as the CMC are at subtlety.

    This is such perfect CMC logic, though: "All we have to do is find the mysterious pony enacting a reign of terror all across Equestria, and then the grownups miles away will come and do all the hard stuff while we hang around and don't spend the next six weeks locked in a tickle dungeon."

    (I mean, it's Equestria. Equestria is a place that would have a honest-to-God tickle dungeon. That's a thing. Shut up.)

    "Okay, compromise: I'll be 'Boba', Scootaloo can be 'Django', and Sweetie Belle, you can be, um... I don't know, Stephanie Plum?"

    Slick cameo from Owlowiscious's cousin in the creepy dark forest conveniently located right in the middle of the Equestrian Southwest. Maybe the Everfree Forest is more a state of mind than a geographic location, kind of like how denial is both a river in Egypt and your response to me earnestly using that joke.

    Upon being startled, the Equestrian pegasus will flare out its wings and puff up its chest, in an attempt to trick predators into perceiving it as larger than it is. Failing that, its friends are less gristly and much, much slower.

    In case you didn't catch it, though, nice callback to "Sleepless in Ponyville" with Scootaloo still being afraid of lightning. Apparently they forgot that Sweetie Belle should be afraid of rain, though. Marshmallows don't last long when they get wet.

    Mandatory Apple Horse "This Is A Family Program, Young Lady" Face #37.

    Swiftly followed by less-mandatory-but-significantly-more-age-appropriate Apple Horse "oh god oh man oh god oh man" Face #512.

    Attempts to explain to Silverstar that "I'm the Sheriff, dammit!" is not a valid excuse for having six aces in a five-card hand unfortunately fell on deaf ears.

    Fair play to Braeburn, though, for getting so amped up about helping to find the Crusaders that he totally forgot which leg he's supposed to have injured.

    "It's, um... y-y'know, sometimes it's one leg, sometimes the other..."
    "And you are three missing children and about six words away from having a matching set."

    "Well, it's raining, we're lost, and Scootaloo's been molting all over the place for the past twenty minutes. How could this get any-"
    "Don't what?"
    "Don't say it."
    "Say what?"
    "You know what."
    "... worse?"



    Sorry, Sweetie Belle. You haven't earned enough Gym Badges for Scootaloo to use Fly yet.

    For those of you keeping track, the cart that Troubleshoes is hiding out in was one of the Season 5 assets teased by the show directors before the season began. It's a bit surprising how quickly a lot of those things are popping up, but with twenty episodes still to come this season, I imagine there'll be a lot more in store for us beyond just those.

    Can't fault his taste in home decor, in any event. Very nice of Mid-Equestrian Trailer Park to it, with just a hint of Felony Charge Colonial in the sidings. Nice touch.

    This seems an odd time to bring it up, but especially in contrast to Braeburn's secession-ready setup earlier in the episode, a lot of folks in Equestria really don't bother to lock their doors very often. I suppose that's par for the course in tight-knit communities, but you'd think at least a guy with a shelf full of valuable unsecured bowling balls would bother to splurge for at least a ziptie or two.

    There's a joke here about coming home to find three soaking wet young girls screaming in your living room, and it is, by several orders of magnitude, inappropes. I just thought I'd say what at least some of you in the back over there were thinking.

    In case of dizziness, boop the nose in the middle.

    And so finally, we have our first look and listen at Troubleshoes, who, to put it mildly: holy crap he's huge. Seriously, how does a guy like that hide anywhere, let alone one who's become a notorious outlaw exclusively through "unusually unfortunate circumstance"? In any event, Troubleshoes' voice actor is--appropriately enough--none other than show director "Big Jim" Miller, and if I'm not mistaken you can hear shades of Mister and Dolorous Ed(d) in his performance. Regardless of the inspiration, he's got the patience of a saint and the muscle tone of an actual horse among ponies, which is admittedly a proportional trip for the ages.

    Plus he's got a lava lamp, so clearly he knows how to party.

    Miniaturized Apple Horse "I Immediately and Severely Regret This Decision" Face #367-2

    Presented without context because, really, does the context ever help?

    "Ake-may ike-lay a ee-tray and eave-lay!"

    It's really striking how close Troubleshoes is to a normal stallion size-wise when he's just a little shaver. It definitely supports the notion that he's a Clydesdale (i.e. not a pony), as well as the well-established trend of sentient horses coming in all shapes and sizes in and around Equestria. Really makes you wonder what else we might have yet to see this season, especially since the theme so far seems to be "Go where there is no path and blaze a trail/fall off a cliff and into a mudpit."

    In Buffalospeak, "Where will you be when the peyote kicks in?" roughly translates to the look Brown Bear has over there on the right.

    Early Budweiser advertisers had a lot looser of a feel to them.

    Here's one for the analysts to yell at each other over for a while: does the CMC's theory that Troubleshoes just misinterpreted what his buttmark meant hold water? I lean towards yes, since that seems to be almost a direct confirmation of what Luna talked to Apple Bloom about two episodes ago, not to mention it slots quite well into the theme of the season thus far. On the other hand, Stretch Armstrong would be a little pressed to call the reactions Troubleshoes gets laughing with him rather than at. It's a enigma, but one that it's not my place to examine. I'm just the guy who gets to play pretend as a Cracked columnist with tiny horses and then publish them in a place where a dozen people can post their six-page reviews within ten minutes of the post going up. It's a tough job, but someone has to have way too much fun doing it.

    In any event, Braeburn's leg is back to normal, so good times all around.

    Unexpected Apple Horse "And Then There's Rarity Who Wasn't Even In This Episode So I Guess This Will Have To Do" Face #[n+1]

    One does wonder how many problems would be solved if the ponies in Equestria would take a minute and listen to the CMC. I mean, maybe they wouldn't cure cancer or anything, but I bet Sweetie Belle at least could put a serious dent in shingles. Can't know until you try.

    Look at those faces. How could you see those faces and not give them a measly set of jail keys and/or millions of dollars in grant money?

    Something something, "this town ain't big enough".

    I'll admit to not being sure why they couldn't have just lured the sheriff out first and THEN gone in and gotten the keys, but hey, they're the aspiring felons here, not me.

    Aiding and abetting never looked so cute.

    "No, seriously. I'm not bein' funny. Geographically, socially, and sociopolitically, this town is simply not of a manageable size for me. I really would've thought that was obvious." 

    The highwater mark for fandom drama gets a little higher every year.

    Well, at least Applejack finally got some prize money to fix the Town Hall. Two and a half years is a long time to hold municipal council sessions and Saltlickers Anonymous meetings al fresco.

    In answer to the buffaloes' earlier age-old question: Braeburn was right here when the peyote kicked in.

    I think this is where the episode's moral comes together a little more clearly. It's not so much that Troubleshoes is confirming that his special talent is to be a laughingstock, but rather that he's consciously deciding to turn one of his weaknesses into a strength. In that context, it's definitely a message befitting of the CMC in that context for a whole bunch of reasons. Not the least of which is that Applejack's literal strength is, for the moment here, a weakness.

    It's a subtle little metaphor. Y'know, if you spell subtle like this.

    "So, uh... you doing anything later?"

    Fun Followup Interactive Activity! Can you count all the different shades of "I never asked for this" in this image?

    "Uh... Braeburn? You good there, buddy?"

    "Impressions: Budweiser in its natural habitat."

    After some time, Sweetie Belle gradually realized she should've done a much better job hiding the bodies of all the other guards outside the jail.

    There's a nice shot here at the end of the same judging panel who'd laughed Troubleshoes out of his rodeo audition showing up in the crowd again, but I'm going to instead draw attention to the sheer size contrast between him and Applejack. I'm legitimately fascinated by the range of heights and breadths that the various races (for lack of a better word) come in. Almost makes me want to start postulating about the Equestrian equivalent of the Nephilim or something.

    If anyone's gonna be Pony Moses, my money's on AJ.

    Concluding Apple Horse "Totally Not a Size Queen" Face #[Also Inappropes]

    I think I've exhausted my supply of spaghetti Western tropes for the day, so that's all I have to say about that. Happy trails.

    ~ Aqua

    (P.S. Pac-Man forever)