• "Honest Apple" Episode Followup

    Honesty is the best policy, but restraining orders are a close second.

    Let's have a look at the latest early episode courtesy of Canada's Treehouse network. Check out the full followup after the break!

    I signed up to cover this episode right after I read the synopsis. Why? Because I do think there's an art to reviewing and offering feedback. I was curious to see how Applejack would handle this task in a foreign field. Let's watch the fun.

    Just "happened" to be passing by, eh Spike? I admire your dedication, but beware venturing into creepy stalker territory!

    It's so very rare to see the ponies looking straight down. A curious sight. Possibly because Pinkie Pie looks angry, even though that's not the case.

    Though I would be a little salty that someone had posted a notice on my window. My recycling bin is filled with promo fliers for things I'll never order.

    I did not know it when I first saw this scene, but Pinkie Pie had planted the seeds of greatness.

    The mysterious power of pony manes deepens! What other secrets does Pinkie Pie hide within her Tardis-like 'do? Dare I believe her party cannon hides just behind her ear?

    "I'm advertising my event before I've even confirmed the judges!
    Truly, I am a marketing genius." 

    A bit harsh on my part but I'm always surprised by how hastily ponies assemble their plans. Rarity has only given herself two days to gather the talent, build the stage, and promote the event. 

    Hail to thee, Kevin Lappin! Welcome to the show! You've been given a tough topic for your premier episode.

    Many of the staff from the first several seasons said Applejack was the hardest pony for which to write. As the even keel of the team, it's difficult to characterize her with a problem. Props for getting her outside her comfort zone by judging a fashion contest.

    Or is she too busy being confused by the Treehouse logo?

    Obligatory "Unicorn Master Race" comment. Moving on!

    Also props for having Appleblooms adorableness help sway AJ's thinking. Rarity had the right idea of injecting some practicality into the the fashion show and giving Applejack time to change her mind.

    "So, are we not going to talk about how I have a special somepony now?"

    "Nope! Too busy talking about fashion 'n stuff!"

    Stick with that look Bloom! You make it look good.

    Welcome back, Photo Finish and Hoity Toity! It's been ages since we last heard your voices. They've been a part of Equestria for several seasons, but we haven't heard them speak since season 1 (and an Equestria Girls short for Photo Finish). It's nice to see these eccentrics again.

    Kinda kissing cheeks. When you want to express affection but don't want any of that icky physical contact.

    Though with several conventions on the horizon, maybe this would be a good way to avoid Con Crud? Eh... probably not.

    With some off-screen development for Coco Pommel to boot! Yes, know it's supposed to be "Ms. Pommel" now, but Coco Chanel has no power over me!

    Wonder what she's been up to?

    "Why would you post that?"

    "I faint!" 

    Oh, Photo Finish. Never change.

    What the–? I just said don't change! Since when do you have eyeballs?

    I wonder if this has been a hotly debated as Vinyl Scratch/DJ-Pon3's eye color?

    Anyway, on to this episode's victims. I mean, contestants!

    I know these three have genuine names, but I shall refer to them as Valley Girl, Pythagoras Pony, and Gothy-Goth. No reason other than my own cheap entertainment.

    The story seems to be pushing for these ponies to be Applejack's opposites as much as possible. Make them as eccentric as possible to contrast with her everyday sensibility.

    But here's where I think Applejack's presentation starts to slide. All the "judges" are offering praise and encouragement. Applejack is the only to offer criticism and she is not being honest. She is being blunt.

    What's the difference, you might ask? Honesty is synonymous with sincerity, which is born from caring about others. We say honest things to help others or prevent a wrong. Applejack's best honest moments featured her caring about others.

    Bluntness is inherently selfish. A blunt person will think themselves direct for not mincing words, but they're also conveying a lack of care or effort for the listener. "Pay attention to what I have to say, even though I've made no effort to craft my message to you." I've appreciated people who offer me a hard truth, but I respect those who were honest with me rather than thoughtlessly blunt.

    And though I found Valley Girl's voice annoying when she first spoke, my heart breaks for that expression. The puppy whimper didn't hurt either.

    Because Applejack's the only one offering negativity, she's coming off as the bad gal here. With each blunt criticism, she's becoming less likeable. All my sympathy is going to the fashion ponies, but I don't think it's a good idea to make the audience dislike the lead in a story. They can make a mistake, but there needs to be some empathy as to why.

    That said, frustration with Applejack does give Rarity a chance to vent.

    The following imagery may be too intense for mere mortals.
    Viewing it risks brain combustion from sheer awesomeness.


    I may not understand expression through fashion, but Pinkie's mane is expressing how I'm feeling!

    "Are you putting holes in the clothes... on purpose?"

    You've never been to a Hot Topic, have you, AJ? I go in every now and again and I instantly become the most counter-cultural person in the store, because I look so very plain.

    Applejack is getting harsher and harsher, and in doing so she's becoming less sympathetic. I'm suddenly less inclined to see her learn and more to see her punished.

    I think a lot of this boils down to how much the audience feels out of touch with the fashion ponies. For my part, I know goths and I've seen intentionally-stressed clothing, and even the show itself has had the characters wear long dresses.

    This argument between Photos Finish and Hoity Toity is the one time I really agreed with Applejack because it made no sense. I think we needed more of this to understand why Applejack herself was getting so aggressive.

    And then this happened:

    Applejack has spoken plenty of harsh words in the past, but I don't think I've ever seen her intentionally destroy someone else's property. This was the low point of the episode for me. It didn't seem like the Applejack we've come to know.

    "I'm just saying what I thought!"

    I've heard this phrased use an excuse by people online, and as a defense by those who disagreed. Ultimately, I think it's the wrong way to say it in either case. It's really a statement that the speaker wasn't doing a good job in crafting a message.

    Though I cannot deny enjoying certain memes.

    Little known fact: whenever Rarity gets upset, the Equestrian stock market for ice cream goes up three points.

    Strawberry Sunrise was a interesting addition. Her argument with Applejack reminded me of many a forum war, and the production staff really portrayed the average argument well.

    Though Strawberry might not live to see another sunrise.

    That moment when you realize you dun goofed.

    As low as Applejack sunk in the middle, she makes a strong comeback by showing her strength.

    No, not her strength in carrying two ponies at a gallop or lifting a stage light that took three stallions. That's physical strength, and though impressive I'm talking about her strength of character.

    Now we're seeing an honest Applejack. She admits her faults and does try to kiss up to reclaim forgiveness. She states the truth but at the same time shows respect towards hard work. Then she's willing to dig in and lend her talents where needed:

    And though that breezy dress isn't her thing, she does make it look good.

    Seeing all this did a lot to improve my first reaction to this episode.

    Oh, hey! The stage from Suited for Success. Nice to see it again. Given all we've seen in this episode, I think it's only fitting to say...

    Though I too need some help from more fashion-minded bronies. I've seen designs at fashion shows before but have never seen them translate into the everyday market. Wouldn't a fashion show want people to buy more of that design?

    Good gravy! I think her smiling muscles have atrophied.

    Pinkie's been a welcome addition. Even when things were getting tense, she helped add some levity. Good on ya, Pinkster!

    But I do have to call shennaigans on not choosing a winner for the competition. It's a basic part of life that when people compete for a limit resource, some will succeed and some will not. That's fact, but we tend to assign a sense of shame with losing when we shouldn't. Even if two of these three didn't win, they would learn from the experience.

    I sometimes wonder if shows do this because they want to avoid fans quarreling over who should have won. If that's the case then I find it understandable, but it also sends the wrong message.

    There's no shame in striving for something and falling short. The real shame is not learning from it and trying again.

    So that was Honest Apple and much like Rarity's last dress it had some fun or amazing elements, but the overall feeling doesn't fit well. I think it highlights the challenge writing for Applejack offers more than anything. The middle would have drawn me in more if the emphasis lay on the fashion ponies' absurdities rather than Applejack's insensitivity.

    But like the Dude says...

    So now let's hear what all of you thought. :)

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!