Fear of Dreaming: “Sleepless in Ponyville” review

Fear is one of those odd things that is hard to understand.

Of course we all understand being afraid. No one wants to get injured or die, so avoiding it, and things that can cause it, sounds like a good idea. But the instinctual response of fear doesn’t always make sense. How does shitting your pants stop a bear from eating you?

Some people freeze when they’re afraid. What’s that about? One would think running like hell would be the appropriate response.

Then you have the truly irrational fears. Fear of ghosts, fear of the boogie man, fear of things that simply do not exist. If I was an evolutionary biologist or anthropologist, I might be able to explain it. But I’m not, so I can’t.

But here’s the most irrational thing about fear: This idea that merely being afraid of something makes you weak. It doesn’t. Being afraid that you’ll fall off a building, that’s rational. Not being afraid you’ll fall off doesn’t make you brave, it makes you stupid…or it means you have really good balance.

Bravery is not simply the lack of fear, it’s the acknowledgement of fear, and the ability to move past it when required to accomplish your goals…whatever they are.

Which ever so subtly brings me to this week’s episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, which is notable for being the first episode, since the show premiered two years ago, devoted to everyone’s favourite neglected pegasus: Scootaloo.

We open with Scootaloo speeding thorough the downtown core, like a crazy drunk driver, and as she’s zooming through the air after jumping off an overturned wagon, Rainbow Dash complements her on her scooter skills.

This casual compliment gets Scootaloo very excited. She thinks this is Rainbow Dash reflecting her own desire to be her personal protegé/sister. Don’t see how those things are related…odd kid. I guess she’s thinking of the organization: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Equestria.

Meanwhile Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle are playing checkers on a 5×5 grid, and I’m not sure the game works well like that…at least I think it’s checkers, since Sweetie Belle pretty much breaks the rules of the game if it is.

But of course, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle are the voices of reason, explaining how Rainbow’s three word compliment doesn’t actually mean much.

But Scootaloo is still ambitious, she wants to spend more time with her personal hero, and Apple Bloom makes a proposition. Since she and Applejack are going on a camping trip, it’ll be pretty easy to convince Applejack to bring Rainbow Dash, and Scootaloo is invited too.

Sweetie Belle is also invited, and she guilt-trips Rarity into joining them…Why am I flashing back to a season one episode? This’ll end badly.

So they begin their trek. Rarity over-packing and having Sweetie Belle pull the wagon. That girl is such an enigma. She’s really good at getting Rarity to do something she hates, but she’s somehow talked into pulling a giant wagon that she apparently is struggling with. Also, Rarity sucks.

But Scootaloo is disappointed, because Rainbow Dash appears to be absent. Then Applejack explains she’s just waiting up ahead. Alright then. Don’t see the point of that.

They arrive at the camp site, and Rainbow Dash is already there. Without a word, she quickly throws the campsite together in less than 15 seconds. Show off! Then Scootaloo makes a terrible first impression by tripping over a log. Well, isn’t that a sharp contrast.

They throw the shelters together, Rarity owning a giant, possibly inflatable though I don’t know how that works, two-story tent, and Rainbow suggests Scoots bunk with her, as long as she doesn’t snore.

Actually, let’s talk about Rarity again. Is there some law against sister-abuse? I know there’s one against slavery, but I’m not sure it applies…it might!

That night, Rainbow Dash tells a classic campfire horror story, scaring the crap out of everypony. But Scootaloo is the only one who claims she’s not, even though she most certainly is. Then we learn Rainbow Dash snores. Okay, you can’t tell someone else not to snore when you snore, you damn hypocrite.

So Scootaloo has a nightmare about Rainbow’s throat-I mean, the scary story she told. She scares herself awake and is too scared to go back to sleep. So, she stays up all night.

The next morning, sleep-deprived Scootaloo feigns restfulness, and on the trek to the next campsite, she suddenly panics, worried it might get dark before they arrive. So she scouts on ahead, but falls asleep on her scooter. The odd thing is, her wings keep buzzing. What the hell!?

For those of you who don’t know, she uses her wings as a propulsion mechanism.

So as she’s sleep-scooting, she encounters many dangers and luckily avoids any injury. Eventually waking when she flies off her scooter and crashes into a bush.

Scootaloo’s nervous attitude attracts the attention of Applejack, who seems to be the only one concerned for her. Does she really want Rainbow as a big sister? Why not do what Sweetie Belle did, and adopt Applejack? She’s actually nice.

So they arrive at the campsite, a dark, damp cave, and night has fallen. Scootaloo’s in charge of firewood, which she has to harvest from the dark and spooky woods. She doesn’t have an easy time of it. All she gets are three little twigs, which doesn’t impress Rainbow. Thankfully, Applejack says that’s enough. Those earth ponies and their freaky efficiency magic.

For two frames, we see that Rainbow brought marshmallows, and is preparing one for roasting. But we never see them actually roast the things…odd. One would think that’s camping tradition.

So to avoid getting scared out of her wits, Scootaloo proposes that she tell the story tonight. It ends up being the exact opposite of horror, which I believe is called My Little Pony. HA! Oh wait, I can’t do that joke anymore.

Anyway, I think we can count that as the third time Scootaloo made a fool of herself in front of Rainbow, but I’m not sure.

So Rainbow tells the story of the Headless Horse. Meh, heard it in season one, as did Applejack and Rarity, so… What’s up with that?

I love Applejack in this scene, acting as the resident skeptic. Giving Rainbow a hard time over the logic behind the Headless Horse. It’s awesome. Best guess, she had time to think about the story since she first heard it.

Once the story’s over, it’s time for bed, but Scootaloo is still scared shitless. So she tries to delay bedtime as much as she can, by proposing a round of campfire songs. Sweetie Belle leads them in a round of Ninety-nine Buckets of Oats…badly. Okay, this bugs me, when did she become tone-deaf? I thought singing was supposed to be her special talent or something! Is this because Claire Corlett did her singing for the first time and she actually sucks at it? Okay, that’s the behind-the-scenes reason, but someone give me a canon reason! WHO WROTE THIS EPISODE!? I’m going to yell at him/her/it over this! Seriously, what the fuck!?

So when that’s done, it’s time for bed…again. But Scootaloo’s still resistant. Anyway, they all go to bed without her, and Scootaloo falls asleep anyway, her exhaustion catching up with her.

Another nightmare comes, this time of the Headless Horse, which catches up with the young filly, and reveals herself as Princess Luna, who apparently spends half her time diving into others dreams. So basically, she’s Dom Cobb. Which makes so little sense it’s not even funny. I mean, I thought her job was to watch over the night. In order to do something like this, wouldn’t she need to be asleep herself?

Actually, the way she puts it, “it is (her) duty to come into (our) dreams.” Why is that needed? The way she puts it, it sounds like a necessary service, but it’s not! Stay out of my dreams! Everypony!!!

Anyway, Luna advises Scootaloo on her fears, and asks if the Headless Horse really frightens her the most, when the question should be: Is the Headless Horse even real? Spoiler alert: It’s not!

Then Scootaloo explains that she’s really afraid that Rainbow Dash will find out that her stories did scare the young filly, and shun her as a coward or something. Back to what I said at the beginning, this is a stupid idea. But it makes sense that children would think otherwise.

Luna advises her to face her fears, as she is sucked into the moon, which has turned into a black hole. Strange dream. Scootaloo awakes, and she’s still afraid of the Headless Horse! Thinking she hears the demon inside the cave, actually Rainbow’s snoring, she grabs her scooter and makes a break for it. Wait…hold on…didn’t she lose the thing earlier in the episode!?

Okay, this episode is making less and less sense.

So as she’s zooming through the forest, she wipes out, falling into a river, that ends in a waterfall. But before she can fall to her death, Rainbow Dash flies past, and grabs her, bringing her to safety.

So…what woke her? Was it Scootaloo’s screaming? Did she happen to wake up for a piss at that time, notice Scootaloo missing, and go out to look for her? What happened!? EXPLAIN!!!

But the joy of seeing Rainbow save her life is quickly squashed when she gives Scootaloo a proper bollocking. So, Scootaloo explains everything…and I mean everything. Particularly her desire to have Rainbow Dash take her under her wing and be her big sister. I’d be creeped out right about now. But Rainbow takes it in stride, and offers to teach Scootaloo everything she knows. That’s…odd.

The episode ends with the group arriving at their final destination: Windsome Falls, which appears to be, not waterfalls, but rainbowfalls…odd. Then, Scootaloo has one final dream, the same nightmare she had earlier, but instead of running from the evil pony, she stands her ground, and is defended by Rainbow Dash. I don’t like that lesson. Don’t be afraid because someone older and bigger will help you? That seems odd to me. Unless the lesson was something else, and I missed it.

So, I opened this review explaining that one shouldn’t be ashamed of being afraid. Which would be a fine lesson, and might be the real lesson, but it’s hard to tell. I guess the fact that Rainbow admits that those stories scared her when she first heard them is indicative of that message, but she prefaces it by saying if Scootaloo tells anyone, she’ll deny it, which would be a bit counter-productive.

I’m glad that Scootaloo finally got her own episode, but I can’t say I like it. It has it’s funny moments, but there are some weird continuity errors at the end, and very little development. I remember reading a while back, that there was some planned development for Scootaloo during the first two seasons. The three episodes would have explained that Scootaloo was handicapped and would never be able to fly. We didn’t get any hint of that. We also didn’t meet Scootaloo’s parents, or even acknowledge that she had parents. So even though she finally got an episode to herself, she got absolutely no development. Okay, I guess we can count her tighter bond with Rainbow Dash, but that’s barely worth mentioning, I’m sorry.

Anyway, here’s to more development of our favourite disabled pegasus, sooner rather than later.

Next week, we get an episode devoted to Rainbow Dash. If Scootaloo has a prominent role here, I’ll retroactively give this episode more credit. Anyway, next week, Rainbow joins the Wonderbolts. Well, looks like the series is ending. Goodnight everypony!!!

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