In the Hooves of an Apple: “Somepony to Watch Over Me” review

Allow me to tell you a tale. About several months ago, shortly before I moved for college, I was driving down the street in a 13-year-old automobile. A Pontiac Sunfire, if you’re interested. Then, suddenly, it broke down in the middle of an intersection. Now, you may be wondering why, and to put it simply: the engine melted. Apparently, there was no coolant in the damn thing, and I had no idea, because some jackass disconnected the temperature sensor.

Anyway, do you want to know what I did the moment this happened? I called my mother. What the hell was wrong with me!? Why was that my first instinct!? I recently turned 27 at that point, and my first instinct was to call my mommy!? That was pathetic, and I very quickly realized that. By the time you reach your late 20s, you should be able to handle things on your own. You should know exactly what to do in a crisis. And honestly, I did. I knew I had to call a tow truck and get the car to a mechanic, but for some reason was unsure enough that I had to check with mommy first. Well, that and I needed money. I was broke at the time. And technically, I still am.

And this is one of the many reasons I’m so glad to have moved all the way to Southern Ontario! I know what you’re gonna say: I didn’t even leave the province, or my time zone. But that’s only because Canada has some massively big provinces. If I was in Europe, such a move would involve crossing two other nations.

Nonetheless, I’m in a different city, in a different region, and I’m as far as I can reasonably get from her. Now, if I need help with something, calling my mother is not an option. I quite figuratively jumped into the deep end of independence, and it feels wonderful, and well overdue.

This is a feeling everyone wants: To feel like they can make it on their own. To feel like they don’t need someone else. And it makes sense, because being dependant on someone else means, if something horrible happens to that person, you’re screwed. Being independent means being in control of your own life, regardless of outside forces. It also fulfills the fourth level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Motivation.

I took psychology last fall.

And it doesn’t matter how old you are. Even children love the feeling of gaining just a touch of independence. But that might also be because they see it as a milestone of growing up, which they also love.

But unfortunately, some parents deny their children this feeling for as long as possible, out of some obligation they feel to protect them from things that don’t exist. Like the old ‘stranger danger’ myth. And this can cause frustration and even rebellion. As some children decide to prove that they can handle things on their own, by any means necessary.

Remind you of anypony?

Yes, it’s precocious young Apple Bloom. And she’s finally been given the responsibility of managing the entire farm while her three psuedo-parents leave town for various, important reasons. And all three of them have absolute faith in the young filly. They all believe she can handle the responsibility on her own. Well… sorta.

For you see, Applejack isn’t so sure, and creates a list filled with detailed tips on how to eat soup… for instance. Which tells me that Applejack is a tiny bit insane.

But after they leave Apple Bloom, everything works out fine. She finishes all her chores, and suddenly has the farm to herself. She can do what she wants! No one can tell her not to! It’s great! Though it surprises me that the epitome of freedom for her is listening to music.

I didn’t realize Applejack hated music. Or maybe she just hates that hippity-hoppity crap the kids listen to.

And after music, there’s standing on the kitchen table.

And everything works out well, nothing goes wrong. That is until Applejack bursts in, startling her, which causes her to knock over the table, creating a big mess of spaghetti and jam.

But why the hell is she back so soon!? Well turns out she aborted her pie delivery so she could check on Apple Bloom. And now, because of the mess her arrival indirectly caused, Applejack suddenly decides to never abandon Apple Bloom again, and start coddling her like an obsessive nanny.

And the biggest irritant? She’s not even listening to her little sister. Apple Bloom explains that she’s fine on her own, but Applejack just ignores her. It’s like she’s not even paying attention. And when she’s not ignoring her, she assumes Apple Bloom is lying to save Applejack’s feelings, since Applejack feels guilty for leaving Apple Bloom because I have no idea.

So Applejack starts putting safety devices on everything, including rakes, and safety netting in the apple trees, and it reaches its cresendo with this:

Yeah, in case you didn’t know, that’s a baby’s crib.

So, Apple Bloom’s finally had enough, and decides to prove that she’s independent and responsible. But she can’t do that when Applejack’s checking on her every five seconds.

So they need a decoy Apple Bloom. And they have one… two actually.

So now, when Applejack checks on her, she’ll see the bow, and assume Apple Bloom’s just sleeping.

Now, how to prove she’s independent and responsible? By making the pie delivery that Applejack decided to cancel. It’s apparently in some isolated part of Equestria, along a treacherous path. But she’s confidant she can do the job on her own!

For future reference: Check what the word ‘treacherous’ precisely means in a given context, before you embark upon such a quest.

Oh, and if you thought the fire geysers were the worst obstacle before her…

That’s right, a chimera. And hungry one too! Thankfully there are plenty of pies, and they’ll have them served with a side of pony.

Oh, fuck.

So Apple Bloom makes a break for it, because it turns out this chimera has a total of three stupid heads, and all three decide to telegraph their attack with a countdown.

She gets away, but nearly loses the pies in the process. And she can’t have that, so she actually goes back for them. And thanks to a few lucky breaks, and a badly coordinated opponent, she manages to get the cart, push it over a hill, where it rolls into a bush.

And while that happens, Apple Bloom just stands there like a lemon, and just as the chimera is about to attack, she’s saved by Applejack’s dramatic timing!

Now, that’s an entrance!

You see, it turns out Scootaloo blew their cover, and was forced to tell Applejack exactly where their friend was. And because she apparently knew there might be a chimera on the path, she also knew the danger, and she knew to come prepared.

She defeats all three heads of the chimera. One at a time, and my only complaint is that it could’ve been just a bit more badass.

Just a bit.

Then, she grabs Apple Bloom, clears the fire geysers, and starts to give Apple Bloom a dressing down. I mean, they lost the pies, and the cart, and…

Oh, right, she saved them.

And this surprises Applejack, since it obviously wasn’t easy. And she decides Apple Bloom doesn’t need to be babied anymore.

And she never needed to be babied, Applejack. You didn’t need to baby her. She knew what she was doing. Say you were wrong, Applejack. You were wrong. Say it. Say you were–You’re not gonna say it are you?

Dumb twit.

So they deliver the pies to some trailer park in redneck-ville, filled with your stereotypical inbred hicks.

And then, Applejack gives Apple Bloom yet another dressing down, because the first one wasn’t enough, saying it was crazy to make the delivery on her own!

Well, yeah, it was, but she didn’t know that. All she knew was that it would be a difficult journey. So you’re thinking hills, cliff faces, maybe a rickety bridge or two. No! Chimera! And not only that, it would’ve been crazy for Applejack to make the trip solo as well! You’re delivering pies, not life-saving medical equipment! Facing a chimera to deliver pies is not brave! It’s stupid!

I guess they care about pies that much!

But she ends by saying that if they ever have to leave Apple Bloom alone again, she’ll have no problem with it. So finally, she learns something!

And that is how to end an episode! By delaying it!

In all honesty, the episode was really good. It featured Apple Bloom trying to gain her independence, and not really messing it up in any way. Applejack’s meddling is what messes everything up, and she’s oblivious to that fact. Even Apple Bloom’s escape could’ve easily been prevented if Applejack just made the delivery as intended.

Some may point out that it was stupid to make the trip on her own, especially since she didn’t know what dangers may lurk before her. But let’s be honest. It was a pie delivery! Were these pies really important enough to put oneself in mortal peril? I doubt that. And don’t tell me the chimera was a fluke. Applejack knew this was a likely possibility, and came prepared for it. She knew she might have to fight a chimera. And she’d have to fight the chimera, to deliver pies. PIES! Again, not life-saving medical equipment… pies! I think the trailer park colts can go without pies. If they really want them, they can come get them. Sorry, we don’t deliver across chimera territory!

So my point is simple: Expecting Apple Bloom to know that an encounter with a chimera was a foreseeable possibility during a pie delivery, is like expecting a pizza delivery boy to know that an encounter with zombies is a foreseeable possibility during a pizza delivery! Because if there was a zombie apocalypse, I’m pretty sure the pizza joint would just end their delivery service. You want your pizza that badly? You face the zombies!

And the rest of the episode was top-notch. Except for the fact that it’s missing something… something vital. And that is: somepony yelling at Applejack. Doesn’t matter who, really. I actually expected Apple Bloom to snap at some stage. As Applejack asks if she needs anything, she just says, “Yes! I need you to leave me alone!”

But it could’ve been anypony. And since the rest of the Apples were gone, and Sweetie Belle’s… well, Sweetie Belle, I nominate Scootaloo.

It’d be a simple addition. As Applejack’s worrying about the missing Apple Bloom, she’d just ask:

Scootaloo: Hey, Applejack. Do you know why Apple Bloom ran off?
Applejack: I don’t have time for this.
Scootaloo: It’s a simple question.
Applejack: [sigh] No! Why?
Scootaloo: Because you kept smothering her! You kept babying her! So she had to prove she could handle something on her own! Besides, what’s the worst that could happen!?
Applejack: It runs through chimera territory!
Scootaloo: … You were willing to face a chimera to deliver pies!? What’s in those things!?

See! Even Scootaloo agrees with me! There’s something wrong here!

Oh, and then Applejack would say she was wrong.

And if I could make one final, serious complaint, it’s the ending. I don’t see the point in splitting it into two scenes. It could all have taken place at the swamp with no issue. I guess they thought the pies’ story arc was that important, so they needed to split it up into two scenes, which ruins the flow. We get Applejack dressing Apple Bloom down at the swamp, then they finish the trip, which might’ve taken an hour or two, arrive at the hick town, sell a few pies, and only then she finishes it. What were they doing that entire time? Walking in abject silence?

I’d understand if the second half started with Apple Bloom, nervously telling Applejack she had a lot to think about, and apologized for running off like that. It would’ve been a much better prompt for Applejack’s next line of: You were stupid, but now I trust you.

And really Applejack, if she needed to survive a chimera attack to finally gain your trust and respect, I honestly think you need to lower your standards just a little bit.

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