Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Second chance: Somepony to Watch Over Me

My intention was that I'd like these episodes MORE after watching them again, not less. Why does this keep happening?
I was WAY too nice to this one the first time around. If there's a speck of enjoyment to be had here, it's all drained by Applejack's ridiculously exaggerated over-protectiveness. This is a constant element though the episode, and it just gets more and more obnoxious as it goes on. The thing is, if it were even the least bit subdued, it might be tolerable, but the writers are milking this one element for all it's worth... and, it turns out, that's not much. 

The sheer extent of Applejack's over-protectiveness defies common sense and rationality, to the point where it was immersion breaking. The worst moment was Applejack opening Apple Bloom's door every few seconds. It's a point so reliant on Applejack having an IQ comparable to your average zombie that it lapses right into contrivance. So many moments are attempting to mine silliness from the ridiculousness of the situation, but without fail these contribute to the obnoxiousness of the main plot. Another particularly bad moment is when Applejack baby-proofs the apple trees. Sure, perhaps Applejack's worried about Apple Bloom, but this is insane. 

One thing often used to try to explain this behaviour is the heavily implied death of Applejack's parents. Perhaps she'd be afraid of feeling that loss again, but that theory has any sort of depth drained from it by the blunt-force method that the episode uses. This theory was used to explain these actions as in-character, but again, consider the execution. Applejack hasn't been shown to be the brightest pony, but she's often at least grounded. The way that her actions are exaggerated here are beyond any sort of sense whatsoever, and Applejack would at least have the common sense to not come off like a crazy person. The famous "crazy person" episode, "Lesson Zero", slowly built up Twilight's madness, and even the abysmal "It's About Time" has the good sense to put Twilight's actions in the context of sleep loss. I don't think "Somepony to Watch Over Me" aspires to anything more than getting laughs from Applejack's insanity here, but it's more annoying than anything.

The most famous part of this episode is the fight scene with the Chimera, a cleverly-crafted bullfight that shows a fair deal of intelligence in its design. Of course Applejack would know how to fight the creature; she had prepared for this trip for some time. This creepy forest with fire-geysers and chimeras boasts a neat design, but it seems almost out-of-place on a pie route. Worse, putting Apple Bloom into actual danger gives Applejack's fears a certain level of legitimacy that undermines the whole point of the episode, as it means that it's now Apple Bloom's responsibility to prove herself responsible instead of Applejack's to come to her senses. This is especially frustrating because of how condescending Applejack's attitude towards Apple Bloom is, and the lesson could have been formed into a stronger one of not condescending your youngers had a number of different creative steps been taken. Annoyingly, this could have been built into some actual strong character work, but is ruined by its execution.

The episode actually focuses on the CMC though, even if it rarely allows us to take a breather from Applejack's presence. They're fairly cute here, and they're definitely in a situation where they could possibly be related to. With Applejack being so wholly unlikable in this episode, of course the CMC come of particularly well in comparison.

"Somepony to Watch Over Me" is one of the less enjoyable episodes of the show to sit through, largely due to Applejack's unbelievably hysterical characterization. Sure, it's easy to see what the episode set out to do, but its execution is ruined by some bad ideas. Unfortunately, my enjoyment of this episode has in fact dropped. Next: "Maud Pie". 

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