Vampires may seem like an overused trope of modern fiction, but that’s only because Valve didn’t make a game about them, yet.
I really like the Vampire mythos. Take Dracula for instance, the original vampire. (Actually, he’s not the original, but who remembers Varney!?) The 1931 film starring Bela Lugosi ranks as one of my favourite films of all time. Our villain was suave and genteel, if a bit creepy at times, but he was also an evil prick, attempting to kill men, seduce women and spread his affliction like a plague.
But the fact that he acted like a virus, where many of his victims became vampires as well, was the most interesting thing. Because it made vampires one of the few horror antagonists you can actually sympathize with to a certain degree. It wasn’t their fault the prick bit them. Plus, vampires are not slavering beasts with no motivation other than: kill everything. Oftentimes, they’re intelligent, conniving, and ruthless. They feed not out of malice or insanity, but out of a nutritional requirement. If they didn’t drink blood, they would die. You can’t blame someone for not wanting to die.
In recent history, this has allowed vampires to take a brand new direction, changing from unapologetic antagonists, to sympathetic protagonists. Twilight comes to mind pretty quickly. A story about a young vampire covered in glitter who wants nothing more than to stare longingly at a female-shaped block of wood with his shirt off.
Maybe I should get around to actually watching those films.
Anyway, it’s been happening more and more frequently. True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Moonlight, even the old Anne Rice books feature vampires not only as bad guys, but as our main characters, and the ones we’re supposed to sympathize with. And in the case of Twilight and Moonlight, they even went the length to modify the mythos to eliminate their vulnerability to sunlight, turning them from dark creatures who stalk the night, into people who just hate the daytime. Which makes them a lot less creepy. It also allows them to place half their scenes during the day just because they can.
The Vampire trope can act as the foundation for some great stories, and be taken in quite interesting directions. But so few people bother to do that, it can actually get quite disheartening.
But it’s nice that they try. Say what you will about the actual books, the idea behind Twilight is actually pretty solid. A romance story between a vampire and a mortal woman. Such interesting potential here. Would she really want to make the sacrifice to become a vampire so they could live together forever? Or would she stay human and when she dies, leave him to mourn her for the rest of eternity? Or would they not even bother, realizing that the pain and the troubles are simply not worth it? Which is why I still think Moonlight was a really good show. It did deal with those issues, but also offered the possibility of Mick finding a cure for vampirism. He was a vampire who hated being a vampire. That alone adds some interesting depth.
But I digress.
The important thing here is that vampires can be taken in interesting directions, and the mythology can be messed with in interesting ways. Like, for instance, by applying it to a completely different species and having them suck fruit juices instead of blood.
Seems a bit contrived if you ask me.
It all starts during harvesting season at Sweet Apple Acres. But there’s something weird about these apples.
Huh, normally they don’t fall apart that easily.
Well, turns out these apples are the victims of juice-sucking vampire fruit bats. Yeah, remember the fruit bats? Well they’re like those things, only they suck. Heh…
Plus, these bats are apparently spreading throughout the orchard, and destroying every crop they come across. Which leaves Applejack, like any farmer, quite distressed.
She’s especially concerned for one particular future prize-winning apple.
DA HELL!? Applejack I thought you knew better than to start resorting to steroids! That’s just not on!
Anyway, Fluttershy suggests negotiating for the steroid apple’s protection. It fails, primarily because she doesn’t know their language. Blythe Baxter, she ain’t.
So, it’s time for the more direct approach, where Applejack sings about how she hates the darn things. But I quickly turn against her, because the way she explains it, the bats aren’t eating her fruits out of a nutritional need, but pure malice. It’s like saying I eat hamburgers because I hate cows!
Even this gem of a line: “Do they ever think of what others may want? No they don’t, and that is just a fact.” Yes, you know that because you can read their fucking minds.
Now, of course Applejack is concerned about pests on her land, like any responsible farmer would be. But her reasoning is just insane, is my point!
Meanwhile, Fluttershy tries to put things in perspective. Explaining that they just want to eat, and feed their kids. Plus, the seeds they spit out will result in stronger trees and–nope, that makes no sense. I don’t know what you’re thinking, but that makes no sense. The genetic material within the seeds are not affected by what recently ate it. And even then, domesticated apple trees are not planted from seeds. What comes from the seed just wouldn’t be close enough to the original. Apple farmers actually use a type of cloning where they plant a branch. I’m oversimplifying, but that’s basically what happens. So the seeds are generally thrown away. They’re not useful to an apple farmer.
What am I on about? Anyway, the big musical ends with everypony and dragon turning against Fluttershy. I’m surprised no one counter argues with: “Well, you make a good point Fluttershy, but it’s Applejack’s land… That’s the end of my argument, it’s Applejack’s land.”
But Fluttershy offers a counter-proposal: Create a vampire fruit bat sanctuary on the farm. You know, I agree with it in principle, but again, it’s Applejack’s land. The bats can’t just stage an invasion and expect everyone else to just agree to give them the territory no questions asked. Besides, isn’t that the role of the Everfree Forest to a certain extent? Plus, is there not other land elsewhere?
But Applejack seems pretty agreeable at first. Especially with Fluttershy arguing about their magic digestive system that not only makes the seeds useful, but makes the trees stronger than before. Okay, fine, I’ll buy it for now, but it’s still stupid. I guess they only included that little contrivance to give Applejack a reason to agree to the sanctuary plan. So she gains something from it.
But sadly, Applejack’s more focused on solving sort-term problems, than gaining long-term benefits. Part of the problem may be Granny Smith’s stories about the last vampire fruit bat infestation. Apparently it caused a bit of a famine.
Okay, a lot of a famine. But of course, this is all coming from Granny Smith. And I wouldn’t be surprised to find out she exaggerated just a bit. “Yeah, it was pretty bad. But you know, we got by pretty well, it wasn’t horrible. Why? What’d I say last time?”
But Rainbow Dash is more concerned about the fact that there was no cider that season, and this is the episode where we learn that Rainbow Dash is a drunk.
I know! I know! When they refer to cider they’re probably not referring to cider (as defined by Wikipedia), which is a delicious alcoholic beverage; but apple cider (as defined by Wikipedia), which is a completely different, non-alcoholic and slightly tart beverage. However, every time they bring up cider, that’s where my mind goes. And this is supported by Rainbow’s desperate reaction:
NO! My source of booze! That’s not on!
No one reacts like that to a non-alcoholic beverage. So, it’s official, Rainbow Dash is a drunk. And I assume she’s an amorous drunk as well. Goin’ up to every stallion, “hey, how you doin’, stud?” I hope her friends make sure she has a pack of rubbers on her at all times. Never know where those cocks have been.
Well, that got weird. Anyway…
Twilight comes up with a more immediate solution. She devises a spell that’ll make the vampire fruit bats not want to eat fruit. Yes, because that worked out SO well the last time! Alright, let’s assume she patched up the make-them-stop-eating spell, so the bats won’t want to eat the barn instead. Let’s assume that happened. Creating a spell that makes them not want to eat, will make them starve to death, you sadistic bitch. You had reason during the parasprite infestation, because they were eating literally everything. These things are only eating apples, I don’t think murder is an appropriate response, yet.
Plus, it’s brainwashing! That’s not on! And it seems as if Fluttershy’s with me! What the hell is wrong with Twilight!? This is mind control! You don’t do that kind of shit lightly. And this is the second time she’s tried this. How exactly is she princess material again!?
You know, if they said something like, “I understand how you feel, Fluttershy, but I don’t think we have many other options.” Or if they said it was only a stop-gap temporary measure, I’d be fine with it. But that doesn’t happen, does it?
Anyway, because everyone except Fluttershy is stupid, they decide to go ahead with the plan. Unfortunately, in order to cast it properly, they’ll need Fluttershy’s help. They’ll need her to do… The Stare! © 2011.
But because she doesn’t really know how to stand up for herself, and her own ethics, she caves and they execute the plan. First, they round-up every vampire fruit bat in the area, and… wait, if they could do that, why not just round them up into a cage? What exactly is the point of this spell again?
Anyway, they do that, and Fluttershy reluctantly Stares at them, Twilight casts the spell, and suddenly, they hate apples.
Woo! Yay! Now they’ll starve to death since they lose the desire to eat a fruit which is a major part of their diet! YEAH! Victory!
Okay, I’ll stop.
Obviously the spell didn’t take. So, it’s time for plan B! They race over to the bats, who are viciously not eating anything. Apparently, they’re too busy reading.
I kinda like that. It’s a decent joke. Anyway, these are not the same bats that sucked the apples. So, who is? Twilight asks Fluttershy if there are any other animals that could suck the juice from an apple. Yes, other animals. Couldn’t just be another flock of bats.
So that night, they stage a stake out to try to catch the culprit in the act. Each pony is given a special signal to alert the others to emergencies once they split up. Magic spells for Rarity and Twilight, and Pinkie Pie and Applejack have special flashlights which-
So they split up and begin searching. A search that eventually reconvenes once Applejack activates her Pony-Signal. For they have found the juice sucker!
Oh, hello Fluttershy. What the hell happened!?
And it appears the group shares my dumbfoundment. They try to talk her down, and she doesn’t respond. Which is an interesting development, since she doesn’t appear to have retained her original mind. Now, Fluttershy’s running purely on vampire fruit instincts. This is actually a characteristic more common with Werewolf mythology than Vampire mythology.
But how did Fluttershy turn into a vampire? Well, Twilight has a theory, and brings out a PowerPoint presentation to explain.
Basically, Fluttershy’s Stare interfered with Twilight’s spell and caused part of it to redirect. Perhaps the original spell just dispersed the vampire fruit bat instincts, and instead, it just focused them on Fluttershy. It’s magic, I’ll buy it.
So Twilight realizes exactly what kind of spell will cure her. Sadly though, the transformation is still proceeding, and she’s becoming more bat-like by the minute.
And unfortunately, catching her proves to be a challenge in and of itself. So it’s time for a bit of bait.
Yes, it’s the steroid apple, which Applejack volunteered to sac.
It works! But now they need to get her to stay still. Which is where these come in.
This is actually a classic Vampire trope. They hate mirrors. It plays into a major scene in the 1931 Dracula film, where Van Helsing notices that Dracula doesn’t cast a reflection in the mirror sitting in what I think was a candy box.
When Van Helsing points this out, Dracula reacts accordingly.
Fuck you! I know I’m ugly! No need to rub it in!
But here, Fluttershy obviously does cast a reflection. Still, it’s a nice homage to a classic Vampire trope. I think the intention here was to imply that Fluttershy is giving herself The Stare, but I like my interpretation, that she just hates mirrors. Though one would think she would just break it in that case. She finds them hypnotic, then.
As an interesting little aside, nice detail on the cutie mark.
So with Fluttershy successfully neutralized, they reverse the spell, she returns to normal, Applejack opens a vampire fruit bat sanctuary, and happy endings all around.
So, with that, how was the episode? Pretty good! The logical underpinnings are solid, with the exception of the tree thing, and the overall experience was pretty enjoyable.
I gotta say, this series is definitely on the upswing. And that makes me happy. I came into this season pretty skeptical, so the fact that the writers are exceeding expectations is a joy to behold.
And so the episode ends, naturally with everything resolved, and no possibility of any future fallout arising from this in any way, shape or-