Love is a Poison

One of the biggest activities among major fan communities is “shipping.” That is, the pairing of two characters in a relationship. I remember back in the day, my first exposure to this was through Harry Potter. I loved the idea of Harry getting together with Hermione. It only made sense to me. So much so that I got pissed and stopped reading halfway through book six, because the idea of Hermione ending up with Ron sickened me.

Perhaps I got stuck in my own dogma. I’m just bothered by the fact that the supposed ‘smart girl’ ended up with the most incompetent character in the book. Seriously, what does Ron have going for him? He’s good at chess!? That’s hardly a practical skill.

Um…where was I? Oh, yes, shipping. Every fan community does it, to a certain extent, and of course the fans of My Little Pony are no different. Except for the fact that the show has a majority female cast, therefore most of the “shipping” is of a homosexual nature. Nothing wrong with that. Unless you’re a knee jerk religious fundamentalist, in which case, this kid had the right idea:

I'm with you kid!

…and you know how I feel about religion.

Anyway, I’m getting off track. There is one other difference between shipping within the MLP fan community and other fan communities. No pony fan ever thought there would be any romance plot line at all in the show, so they could have fun with the idea of Rainbow Dash hooking up with Applejack, or Spike getting it on with Apple Bloom, or Fluttershy doing Big Macintosh…wow, the Apple Family keep busy. Anyway, because this is a kids show, they are able to do all that without fear that their fan work would ever be contradicted by the show…until now.

For this week, it’s Valentine’s Hearts and Hooves Day on My Little Pony. Is it just me, or are they trying to parody every holiday this season? What’s next? Hoof and Clover Day where everypony wears green and gets drunk!?

The episode opens with the Cutie Mark Crusaders preparing a Valen…er…Hearts and…er… Oh fuck it! It’s a Valentine alright! It’s a fucking Valentine! I’m not going to worry about terminology today.

Anyway, they make a Valentine for Cheerilee that’s over twice their size. We see them make it and I would have expected the end result to be more of a mess, instead it’s actually quite elegant. Surprisingly so. I thought the whole hook of the Crusaders was: they suck at everything they do. This subverts that, and it bothers me.

Somehow, they managed to get the giant Valentine to school, and as they present it to Cheerilee, they tell her how much they like her and how she’s the greatest teacher ever! They’re such a bunch of suck ups.

Of course during their flank-kissing they learn their favourite teacher…actually, their only teacher…is without a ‘very special somepony.’ Ugh, can’t they just use the term coltfriend like normal ponies!? Seriously, that’s a bit of a mouthful. I can tell this is going to get old very quickly.

Anyway, they are shocked at her singlehood, which annoys Cheerilee. Natch. I got news for you girls: you don’t remind single ponies that they’re single. It can only piss them off. I know, I’m single, and I hate being reminded of it.

So the girls conduct a big musical number to search for the perfect stallion, which I certainly enjoyed. Primarily because we find out there are actually more than three guys in this town. That’s fascinating to me. But what bugs me is that it’s also revealed that most of the stallions in town are also weird, creepy or insane. Seriously, one of them likes diving into tubs of jelly for no apparent reason.

Eventually they settle on Big Macintosh, which should surprise no one. He’s the only stallion in the show with spoken lines.

They try to figure out the best way to pair the two up, and what they come up with is a romantic dinner…er…romantic picnic. So they set everything up at the gazebo, which I can assume is on Sweet Apple Acres, and manage to lure the two there by telling Big Mac he needs to fix the gazebo (a friggen lie), and telling Cheerilee they need her help identifying a tree (another friggen lie).

The two arrive on the scene and Cheerilee identifies the apple tree giving her best expression of the episode: One of exasperation. I love it because she’s normally very cheery, hence her name, and that’s my favourite part of this episode, Cheerilee showing a side that doesn’t make me sick. She can’t always be that happy.

The trio set the scene, play some music, and then take off. So, the two begin chatting, and it pretty much ends on a low note, pissing off an eavesdropping Sweetie Belle. I love that! It’s like she’s taking it personally that these two won’t hook up.

So, in their failure, the Crusaders begin roaming the streets of Ponyville, where they run into Twilight…literally. Twilight reveals the origins of Hearts and Hooves Day, that it all started with a love potion, which gets their attention. They end up making a batch of the stuff to give to the lovely potential couple, because after all, it worked out so well for Voldemort’s parents.

I find the recipe kinda interesting, one of the ingredients is a tuft of cloud, which they get by standing on a tall cliff. Hey, doesn’t Scootaloo have wings that she could use to fly up to a cloud? I’m starting to think her lack of flying ability is becoming a running gag on this show. I wanna see her take to the air damn it!!!

So, back to the source of evil wizards. The potion works, but a bit too well, as Cheerilee and Big Mac fail to notice anyone else, and begin talking in baby talk to each-other, freaking the kids out. They try to figure out what went wrong, when Sweetie Belle notices something in the book she didn’t notice before. The potion originated when a Prince used it on a Princess, and they became so lost in each other’s eyes, they couldn’t perform their royal duties, and the entire kingdom collapsed. In fact they misread, it’s not a love potion, it’s a love poison. Easy mistake.

I’m sorry, but: WHAT!? WHY DIDN’T THEY READ THIS SOONER!? You’re telling me these fucking foals thought it was a good idea to brew a potion that messes with people’s emotions without reading the whole passage!? Didn’t they learn anything during the Cutie Pox incident!? When messing with magic, always read the fine print!!! There’s always fine print, you read it!

Thankfully, Big Mac and Cheerilee don’t have any royal duties, they’re just responsible for the feeding and education of almost the entire town. Apple Bloom is the first to realize how important they are, but what bugs me is this: are they the only one’s in town that can do the job? Is Cheerilee the only teacher? Couldn’t Applejack pick up the slack on the farm or hire someone else who could? I’m sure they have important jobs, but surely they can be replaced! What if they died!?

Sweetie Belle keeps reading and finds a cure, if they can keep the two intoxicated love birds separated for an hour, everything will be back to normal. Easier said than done. Though one would think the two would eventually sleep. Unless…okay, another reason to end this soon, before nightfall. Otherwise once they break the spell:

Cheerilee: Wha-What happened? Big Mac, do you know what we’re doing here?
Big Mac: Nnnope.
Sweetie Belle: Well, we might have given you two a love potion.
Cheerilee: What!?
Sweetie Belle: Sorry.
Cheerilee: Oh, well no harm done I guess, and…wait…I think I remember…[mortified]…Oh my god! [to Mac] Did we…?
Big Mac: [equally mortified] Eeeyep…
Cheerilee: …[suddenly pissed] You kids are dead.
Big Mac: [equally pissed] Eeeyep.
Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo & Apple Bloom: GAH! [run]

Of course they don’t mention that, it is a kid’s show.

So what can keep a loving couple separated for more than a few minutes? A wedding! In fact I think it’s a rule, they have to be separated. So they mention marriage to the brainwashed couple and begin planning for the big event! Big Mac heads to the jewellers to pick out a diamond, and Cheerilee heads to Carousel Boutique to find a wedding gown.

What I find odd, is Cheerilee seems distressed as she’s looking for the right dress, as if she just can’t find it, but Big Mac seems willing to take the first stone he finds. It takes Apple Bloom to say “no” to every one so he spends as much time as possible there. I find that very odd. Either Big Mac has much lower standards than Cheerilee, or she doesn’t really want to get back to him that badly. Eventually Apple Bloom runs out of ways to make diamonds sound bad. Which bothers me, I mean just say you find a minor inclusion in it…over and over again. There you go, that’ll keep him busy. He should want a perfect diamond for his Schmoopy-Doopy-Floozy-Goozy-whatever…

Another odd point: when Big Mac nods in approval at every diamond he sees, his head sounds like a paint can. As if there’s a small ball knocking around in there. Are they making a knock on his intelligence?

So Big Mac gets out of the jewellers and begins looking for Cheerilee. Apple Bloom tries whatever it takes to slow her brother down, including tying a house to his yoke…that’s the thing around his neck. At this point it’s revealed that houses in Ponyville are built directly on the ground with no foundation. See, you’re supposed to dig a few feet underground, lay some concrete as a foundation, then build on top of that. Apparently they don’t do that in Ponyville.

So as Big Mac is dragging an entire house through town…and that’s another thing, what exactly is that rope made of!? It should have snapped a lot sooner than it did!

Anyway, as Big Mac is dragging an entire house through town, Apple Bloom keeps trying to physically stop him. I figure she should have tried something else, like fake an injury. One would figure the yelling and screaming of a family member in distress would override the spell, if only for a few moments. Hell, it’s worth a shot.

So Big Mac is heading straight to Carousel Boutique, and falls straight into a hole that Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle dug right in his path. Man, those two are fast diggers. They should have gotten a cutie mark for that. Then again, grave digging probably isn’t a talent they want, and it would be a pretty grim cutie mark.

So the spell is broken, and the Crusaders confess to the love potion fiasco. They then explain the episode’s Aesop, which can pretty much be summed up as “matchmaking is wrong.”

I don’t like that lesson. I think matchmaking is fine, as long as it doesn’t involves secretly slipping them drugs, or getting obsessive over it. The episode’s lesson should be: Know when to back off!

The episode ends with the Cutie Mark Crusaders harvesting apples, since they’re taking over Big Mac’s responsibilities on the farm as punishment, when Cheerilee and Big Mac arrive and announce they are having a picnic at the gazebo. Apparently this hints at a future relationship between the two. See, everything worked out in the end. Or, they were just screwing with the kids.

I like this episode. It was laugh-out-loud funny. Which is something I haven’t seen in a while. But what was even more funny was the disaster that happened a matter of days ago, before the official airing. Some moron at Apple accidentally posted Hearts and Hooves Day on iTunes this past Wednesday. But it wasn’t supposed to be released until Saturday, so many people got treated to an early airing of the episode.

Of course according to one source, it was due to a simple typo in the release date. Instead of 2012, someone typed 2011. I’d still like to blame Apple for this one because for once, they did something I can approve of.

It was quickly taken off the iTunes page, but the damage was already done, and not long after that, it was posted to YouTube and other sites.

We really got a treat out of it, and I got the opportunity to write my weekly pony review a few days early. I’m certainly happy. But here’s the issue I have: Some sites like Equestria Daily and Bronyland took a stand, deciding to treat it like any leak, and refuse to link to it. This is a problem for me. Now technically, they can do whatever they want, they are private businesses. But I still disagree with the move because for one, it’s the job of any news outlet to cover stuff like this, even a minor blog that only covers niche stories; and for two, it’s not really a leak in the traditional sense. Okay, no one intended for the episode to be released early. But that’s beside the point I’m trying to make.

You see, typically a leak about future episodes would involve a hint that some character would make an appearance, or some plot details, or something like that. These are also known as Spoilers. Why are these a problem? Because they ruin the flow of the episode. Let’s take another show as an example: Doctor Who. Warning: If you haven’t seen the season four finale of the new Doctor Who series: What the fuck have you been doing for the past four years!? Get on that!!! Also, don’t highlight the redaction below.

Anyway, if one discovered early, before watching the season four finale of Doctor Who, Journey’s End, that the Doctor averted regeneration by sending the regeneration energy into his severed hand after it healed him, which then grew into a fully formed Doctor and gave Donna Noble the intelligence of a Time Lord, which then allowed her to stop Davros’ doomsday device, everything that leads up to that would feel lacklustre. (BREATHE!!) The suspense would be gone because you now know exactly how it all ends, before it ends. Instead of enjoying the episode, you would just be waiting for the moment when Donna saves the Universe…again. This kind of spoiler ruins the experience.

So how is this leak different? It’s different because it’s not just a simple plot detail, it’s the whole episode. The only thing that changed, experience wise, is: we watched it a few days early. It didn’t change my experience in any way, it only moved it up.

Of course some may say that it killed revenue for Hasbro. I disagree. I can’t speak for everyone, but the way I acquire Pony episodes didn’t change, I still got it off of YouTube like I do every week. Besides what really killed revenue for Hasbro was: Not releasing a DVD box-set and doing business exclusively with Apple.

I still hate Apple with a passion, and I refuse to do business with them in any way. Plus, as much as I’d love to give Hasbro my money in exchange for pony episodes, I’d feel really guilty if I also gave money to Apple. I’d be like condoning bad behaviour.

Of course they are releasing a five episode DVD, which I might buy, or I might decide to just hold out for a full season like I’m doing with Penn and Teller: Bullshit!: Season Seven. They cut out the Vatican episode, which pisses me off.

I don’t understand why Hasbro hasn’t released a DVD box-set! A crippling fear of money and success!? Must be the same reason they haven’t released a white Celestia! If they’re afraid it wouldn’t sell well, perhaps they should consider a limited run at the next Comic-Con. Just give us something! Shut up and take my money in exchange for a product I want…

Anyway, I’m getting off track. Some people may want to wait for the episode to air as scheduled, and I respect that. I don’t understand why, but I respect it. So some have decided to make it a policy to not post any reference to the events of the episode until the official air-date. Sounds like as good a policy as any.

So, back to the episode, in summation, this week’s episode was about drugs and date rape, which is as good a story as any. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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