Non-transferable Skills: “Spike at Your Service” review

If you have a job, I must issue you an applause. It must be nice to work, have something to do, and not worry about money too much. I used to have a job, however briefly. Those six weeks I’ve spent working retail I certainly enjoyed, and I wish I could go back, but that’s not happening. I’ve actually spent most of my adult life (since graduating college) unemployed. It’s depressing.

I’d understand if no one wants to give me a break and a chance to prove myself. But I already proved myself, and I think I did a good job…that is, if you ignore my last day, which I shall. So why can’t I get a job? I have the skills, I know modern point-of-sale systems, I know how to sell. Just recently I was at the local pharmacy, and the cashier didn’t know how to use a gift card. Apparently it was her second day, and her trainer was occupied. So, I walked her through it. I knew exactly what to do, just by looking at the screen.

I never lost these skills, and I never will. I can’t! In spite of the fact that I don’t apply them in my daily life today.

Which is why I find the latest episode of My Little Pony so odd, as young Spike forgets every skill he’s ever had, the very moment he starts to work for Applejack.

The episode opens with Spike and Twilight going through the unicorn’s weekend assignment of twelve large on…something. I’m sure she’ll have no trouble getting through it with plenty of focus and coffee.

She gives Spike the day off and he’s really excited. After all, he has “a long list of things [he’s] been dying to do!”

Turns out the list is only three items long and they are all activities he did not need to wait until his day off to complete. In fact they’re all kinda odd, and I think, a bit sexist. After all, despite actual viewer demographics, the target audience remains eight-year-old girls; and if you ask the average eight-year-old girl what they would expect a boy to do, they’d probably think of something gross or disgusting, like enjoying the smell of their own rancid feet, which is exactly what Spike does in this scene.

It just feels sexist to me, and no, you cannot say: It’s against boys, therefore okay. It doesn’t work like that. Sexism is sexism, especially regarding children’s media. Since they don’t have the same prejudicial baggage adults have that might need to be cleared-out.

I know someone will point out there’s still much classic sexism in children’s media today, and I know, and that’s bullshit too. This shit, no matter who the subject, only widens the gender divide among children, which I think is bullshit that I’ll probably save for another day.

Anyway, that’s my impression.

So Spike wanders around the town looking for something to do. Eventually coming across the show’s iconic hot air balloon. I have that toy, got it for ten bucks, but it was the early one that was the wrong colour. Anyway he run towards it, I guess hoping for a rental, and bumps into the post it’s tied to. The knot comes loose and it floats away.

Spike runs after it, accidentally stealing Big Mac’s cart, and nearly killing Granny Smith in the process. He also passes several unicorns, one of which, you’d think, would be able to pull it down for him. But they don’t.

He eventually gets a hold of the balloon as it ends up over the Everfree Forrest. He floats gently down and finds himself stranded in the middle of it. I guess Twilight never taught him how to fly a hot air balloon, or he’d be out of there.

As he contemplates the situation, he is set upon by a pack of Timberwolves. Which, for those of you who forget, are wolves made of timber.

So we have a fire-breathing dragon, versus a pile of kindling. So of course, Spike does the most logical thing: he runs like hell!

Let’s assume he just forgot he could breathe fire. It’s not long before the wolves have him cornered, and he has no way out…Except his fire breath which could easily incinerate a creature made of wood. I could buy this scene if his opponents were anything else, like Vashta Nerada, or baby chimerae; but not Timberwolves. This is just stupid.

He’s quickly saved by Applejack, who was investigating the rogue balloon. She starts by distracting the wolves, and getting them to chase her down as Spike escapes. She takes them out, one-by-one, and we learn all you need to kill a Timberwolf is hit it really hard, and it’ll fall apart into component pieces. Yet, apparently, there’s no point in setting it aflame.

So, after all the Timberwolves are dead, they head straight on over to Sweet Apple Acres, with the balloon in-tow, to return it to its rightful owner, who isn’t Twilight, or Pinkie Pie, but some background pony. I guess the girls just rent it when they need it…which is often.

Spike then explains that, because Applejack just saved his life, he is now indebted to her. Applejack at first explains that it’s unnecessary, but his persistence soon wins her over. She tells him to help Apple Bloom bathe Little Pigington, who turns out to be a giant, fat-ass fucking beast!

Wait, why do they even have pigs? On earth, pigs are used for only two things: food, and making more pigs. Ponies are clearly vegetarians, so…what exactly are they breeding pigs for?

He goes to help Apple Bloom and we suddenly learn something interesting about Spike: nine times out of ten, he’s a shit assistant. You see, earlier he tried to help Applejack by carrying some baskets, but all he did was spill their contents all over the ground. Then, as he assists Apple Bloom, he knocks over the bucket of water, covering her in suds…and he doesn’t even notice!! Which brings me to the big beef I have with this episode: That the guy previously dubbed ‘number one assistant’ by Twilight is revealed to be a shit assistant. Anytime he does anything it this episode, the end result just ends up being a giant mess.

He cleaned the pig with no major issues. But throughout the rest of the episode, it’s just disaster after disaster.

So Apple Bloom takes off, explaining her plans to water-ski with the other Crusaders, and Applejack doesn’t bat an eye. This might be just me, but I’m pretty sure water-skiing is a real high-intensity sport! You’re being pulled at a hundred kilometres per hour across a lake, which may contain signs, ramps, rocks; and I’m sure face planting at that speed, even on water, would hurt like a bitch. But Applejack doesn’t bat an eye. She doesn’t even say ‘be careful,’ or ‘stay safe,’ or ‘good luck,’ which tells me she’s an irresponsible idiot. Even if you consider it a safe pastime, remember that Scootaloo’s involved. Do I need to explain this any further!?

Anyway, let’s move on. Applejack explains that Spike has paid his debt in full, and he can go home. But Spike objects. He insists on helping her even more. So they move on to pie baking. Which he manages to completely fuck up. He covers the kitchen in shit, and the pie he bakes is an inedible block of carbon. Which is odd because his baking skills seemed top-notch in season one.

So Applejack tries to get rid of him once again, but Spike explains that the debt he owes her is for life. He is to become her lifelong servant. It’s part of his personal code of honour…dread.

But Granny Smith points out he’s already Twilight’s assistant. How would this work out? So Spike runs off to tell Twilight that he’s quitting. Okay, this might be going a bit too far.

Now of course, I know we’re all expecting a freak-out here, but sadly, it doesn’t come, as Twilight is so engrossed in her studies, she doesn’t even notice Spike’s presence, much less his speech. Spike interprets her distance as approval, and is quite dejected as he wanders back to Sweet Apple Acres, where Granny and AJ just finished cleaning up the kitchen, and he promptly destroys their work once again.

How is this possible!? We know baking and cleaning are in his skill set. Did he hit his head during the Timberwolf attack and forget how to do his job!?

Whatever. So Applejack explains she doesn’t feel comfortable having a servant. Notice she doesn’t say he’s actually harming more than helping, just that she doesn’t like it. Spike counters by saying if he doesn’t live up to his code, he won’t be a noble dragon anymore…was he ever?

I wonder when he got this code…there’s a story.

So she tries to find some busy work that couldn’t result in loss of life or limb, because in Spike’s claws it would. The only thing she could think of is to deliver the aforementioned block of carbon to Rarity, where the unicorn proceeds to humour the dragon, at her own peril. Condescending bitch. Yes, I’m including Applejack in that. They need to tell him the damn truth!

So Spike takes off to clean the plate, as Applejack explains the situation. Rarity is naturally envious, but I’m pretty sure that starts to fade as he starts destroying her kitchen.

Rainbow swings by and is equally jealous, but comes up with a solution to Applejack’s problem. Tell him to do something really hard, like build a superfluous tower of stones for her to smash into. According to Rainbow, he’d quit well before the job is done, and in turn, quit as Applejack’s slave.

Turns out, she doesn’t know Spike that well.

He builds the tower, and she knocks both the tower down, and herself unconscious.

Fluttershy arrives, apparently hearing about the dilemma off-screen, and suggests AJ simply say there’s nothing to do. Which gives Spike a panic attack as he looks for things she doesn’t know she needs help with.

I like Fluttershy in this scene. It’s hard to explain, just watch it.

So Applejack is running out of options. She goes to Twilight, and explains the situation. Naturally, Twilight’s shocked, but she arrives at a solution: Get Spike to save Applejack’s life. That alone is enough to nullify the debt.

So she plans a ruse involving a fake Timberwolf, and claiming she gets her hoof stuck in a pile of rocks. A scenario I’m not sure is possible. Anyway, the idea is to make Spike think he saved her from certain doom, without putting them in any unnecessary risk.

So once Applejack lures him to the staging area, Rainbow releases her best roar, then Rarity and Pinkie run out of the forest screaming. “TIMBERWOLF!!!”

However their acting is unconvincing, as Pinkie keeps smiling, Rarity overacts like a champ, and afterwards they slowly trot away.

Then, a shit puppet arrives, and Applejack begins her role, faking distress.

For some reason, Spike falls for it, which tells me he’s some kind of idiot. That is, until he realizes he can’t smell the shit breath of a Timberwolf.

But then, the shit breath arrives and the real wolves join the party, likely summoned by Rainbow’s roar. Everyone scatters, and AJ climbs the remnants of the former rock tower, and drops a boulder on all three, smashing them to bits.

But then, she’s caught in a small landslide, and she literally gets her hoof caught between two rocks. But that’s no big deal, since the enemy’s already been defeated right? Well, not exactly. Turns out they can reassemble, and they do…into one giant wolf…


So just as Applejack is about to be eaten, Spike throws a stone straight into the Timberwolf Megazord’s throat. He then frees Applejack and they run like hell as it chokes on the stone, eventually collapsing once again…from a single rock. Okay, these guys are pussies.

So after that incident, they come to an understanding: Next time somepony need saving, the rescuee’s not indebted to the rescuer. Though it would be best if they avoided life and death situations altogether.

That night, Twilight is having trouble reading in the dark, so Spike carries over a lamp, and somehow manages to not burn the library down with it.

So with that the episode ends. You know what’s strange about this season? It’s really not that good. Episodes have been either underwhelming, inconsistent, or terrible.

I’ve heard rumours saying this will be the last season. I hope that’s not the case. The final season should live up to the rest of the series, not fall flat on its face, like it has been.

So, next time, in three weeks…Discord returns? Da hell!? Okay! I’m calling it now! I’m gonna hate the next episode! I’m tellin’ ya!


2 responses to “Non-transferable Skills: “Spike at Your Service” review

  1. It’s a shame such smart and talented people like you have to suffer like this D: Hang in there, I know things will turn up soon. On other notes, I think I’m becoming more and more bored with mlp, I didn’t watch this episode. The previous episode I watched while reading a book and the one before that I quit in the middle.

    • I’ve always found My Little Pony to be good, but honestly, not re-watchably good… at least not typically. It’s not like Stargate Universe. That’s always worth a good rewatch.

      My point is I understand where you’re coming from; and I think it has to do with the fact that, despite the show’s quality, it’s still directed at children; and therefore, not very intellectually stimulating. It also doesn’t help that, much like this season of Doctor Who, this season of My Little Pony has been a damp squib… with the exception of Magic Duel, in my opinion.

      By the way, I’m going back to college. :D

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