Analyzing “Applebuck Season”

Dear Princess Celestia, where do I begin? Applebuck Season remains one of my favorite episodes of My Little Pony. As a person who really appreciates this show for the high density of things it has to offer, it would be correct to assume that the more I like an episode, the more things there are to say about it.

However, what makes this episode amazing is very straightforward. Whereas my enjoyment of Pinkie Pie episodes comes from analyzing her down to the core and finding the deeper meanings that the show can’t reach, my enjoyment of Applejack is as straightforward as her character. Applejack is my second-favorite pony after Twilight Sparkle, and both of them are the most straightforward, easily-understood characters in the show. The reason I love them is that their personalities are so enjoyable on a basic level. Probably because they both fail in such intense ways while being smart enough to realize it themselves.

All of the ponies fail in big ways: Pinkie Pie doesn’t understand other ponies’ way of thinking very well and has trouble empathizing with them (i.e. she can be a pest); also she’s probably got some kind of depression or anxiety disorder. Rarity and Fluttershy are both paranoid—Fluttershy reclusive and shy, Rarity bombastic and dramatic—and both of them tend to get pretty lost in their own heads. Rainbow Dash is full of herself and doesn’t think things through at all.

Besides Fluttershy, I think that those ponies are relatively unaware of their problems. Rainbow Dash sees herself as flawless, Pinkie Pie doesn’t bother to think about it, and Rarity is a drama queen. Fluttershy understands that she has a problem and works to combat it sometimes, but her default mode is still pretty much hikkikomori.

Just throwing this out for consideration. Original art source:

So this brings us to Applejack and Twilight Sparkle, who are the most self-aware and grounded characters in the show. Applejack is stubborn and a bit closed-minded, but she seems to be aware of this. Even here in Applebuck Season, she knows going into it that she’s making a mistake, but her pride is too strong to admit it, and the deeper she gets in, the harder it is for her to admit what an idiot she’s being. It’s a massive failure that works so well because she’s an otherwise sensible pony. This is something we’ve all probably experienced at some point—unwillingness to abandon our past feelings and actions and admit that we’re stupid and wrong. I know this is something I’ve done countless times.

Twilight is similar to Applejack in her self-awareness, but I also think Twilight has some personality disorders that she hasn’t come to grips with that factor in a lot of the time (especially her paranoia regarding Princess Celestia). Sure, there are some ways that Applejack isn’t self-aware, mostly in how she tends to see herself as knowing what she’s doing and being unwilling to take advice from others, but again, this is always something that she has to come to grips with by the end of the episode, and gets better at each step of the way.

This doesn’t make Applejack a better or more interesting character, nor does it make her my favorite (I love her more for her innate qualities). My point is simply that anyone can see why this episode is excellent. I don’t have to bust it wide open and suck all the juices out like a Pinkie Pie episode. Applejack’s failure is simple, and the episode’s comedy is simple—it’s just done with a density and brilliance that is as good as this show’s writing ever gets. If I go into everything I like about this episode, It’ll mostly be, LOOK AT THIS THING, ISN’T IT GREAT?! And yet, I don’t hate the idea of doing that. Sometimes I just wanna gush, Egoraptor style.

DUDE, ISN’T IT AWESOME how Applejack is supposed to be uneducated and stuff, and she rejects Big Macintosh’s “fancy mathematics” (which by the way, “one pony plus hundreds of apple trees just doesn’t add up,” I think he meant “hundreds of apple trees divided by one pony”), and yet she uses the phrase “bumper crop,” which sent me to the dictionary? Because like, she’s not educated about things like math and fashion and high society, but she knows her craft super-well, and actually has a really sharp wit, so the reality is that she’s a highly intelligent pony whose knowledge simply is in another place…?!

ISN’T IS INSANE how the animation quality has made such a gigantic leap from episode three?! I mean, remember in my last post how I said that the ponies had neutral expressions and poses most of the time, and there aren’t many big changes to the basic character models? Well now in this episode, it totally opens up and there’s a shitload of original animations! Many of the animations and a ton of the facial expressions are exclusive to this episode, and I don’t just mean standard Applejack faces with extra lines under the eyes, though I do love those. I can’t point all of them out without adding a visual element that I don’t feel like doing, but just watch the episode!

ISN’T IT INTENSE how they originally intended for Applejack to be hitting the trees with her head to knock down apples, and that’s how they conceptualized this episode, but then they realized how fucking insane and dangerous that sounded and created the totally awesome concept of applebucking which became an integral part of the show’s worldbuilding?! Also how hey still have Applejack hit her head a couple of times, which marks noted progression on her road to insanity?!

ISN’T IT A WEIRD INCONSISTENCY how Applejack tells Big Macintosh that she can do all the work in a day, but a week actually passes between her rounding up the cows and attending the award ceremony, according to Rainbow Dash? But it’s even better this way because Applejack probably hasn’t slept in a week, and I have friends who do this sometimes and act exactly like Applejack does here!

THE SPEECH SCENE IS SUCH A GREAT CHARACTER EXERCISE, starting with Twilight organizing her cards in this totally OCD way and getting all nice and prepared to speak, but then the inconsiderate Rainbow Dash interrupts her, followed by Pinkie Pie being ridiculous, and then by Fluttershy who honestly isn’t that considerate anyways, just really shy, so this still says something about her character!

ISN’T THE CONSTANT dry comedy surrounding Applejack’s tired state just the funniest shit you’ve ever seen?! Her dialog, her performance, and every little thing like the horrible grinding as she drags the statue away, and there’s no music for most of the whole scene!



Okay, calm down…

Check this fucking shit out! (NO DON’T IT’S TERRIBLE)

This is the episode wherein I reach a meta/memetic appreciation of this show. Most of these first few episodes are too early and not dense enough to have a massive amount of fanmade content, but this is the first episode where I connect to it on that level, because of this video that I’ve seen a lot of times, and which I call back to when watching it.

MAN I LOVE how when Applejack tries to help Pinkie bake, she totally doesn’t understand why Pinkie is using such ridiculous ingredients, but she’s too tired to question it and is just like, “what the fuck am I doing?” She even rationalized, “wheat worms,” as, “fancy talk for earthworms,” because that’s what exhaustion does to you!


Bunny rampage! Alliteration jokes! Applejack passing out in her tipped-over cart! I mean seriously, these aren’t just funny, these are classic jokes to me. We’re talking about my favorite episode of my FAVORITE SHOW, can you see where I’m coming from here?!

At the end, Twilight makes you think… man, she could do Applejack’s job in minutes. What a god-modder.

I’m real glad the town gave me the pony pony pony award… but the real reward is having CELERY!


3 thoughts on “Analyzing “Applebuck Season”

  1. Fuckin’ Antoine from Sonic…

    I loved the whole Spike/muffins thread. Everyone else is like, “Stop EATING that shit!” It’s like the kid in grade school who still eats paste.

    FiM’s dry humor is one of those hit-or-miss elements, I suspect. Worked for me, of course—I love it, possibly because nobody around me’s ever attempted it. But I’ve found it difficult to convince others that the series’ occasional dry writing is still fascinating and meaningful. Even hilarious. It’s that whole “stale” vs. “clever” thing. That “little-kids-don’t-mind-it-because-it’s-written-for-them” bullshit. I dunno, I’m shrugging here.

    It’s cool that these particular character arcs causally lead to their logical conclusions; I never get the sense that the writers forced anything in. Applejack’s actions force Twilight not only to assess the situation (the situation, like you suggested, is obvious anyway) but to do something about it, properly. “Will she work up the resolve to tell Applejack? Will she figure out a strategy? Will Applejack stop being stupid?” The effect is a cool story that doesn’t really feel like it has to have some deeper meaning. Maybe the best kind of story—who knows?

    • Yeah, it’s like the episode’s plot is pretty much meaningless and obvious, and of course you know what the lesson is right from the start—hell, Applejack oughtta know it on some level. She’s the one who gulps and frowns right after making her ridiculous claims.What matters is how much fun it is and just watching it unfold.

      I adore the dry comedy in this episode, and I’ve been the first to point out some of the brilliant dry moments in the Dave Polski episodes (Feeling Pinkie Keen and Over a Barrel). Dry comedy works really well when you have well-established characters, because it shows them just being themselves, and the comedy and ridiculousness comes straight from who they are. Applejack is directly causing all these hilarious bad things happening to her, and she just keeps telling herself that she’s doing fine and doesn’t need help. I LOVE IT! It’s funny because I love her and I want her to overcome this stuff and be smart, but because I know her I know exactly how she’s going to fail along the way, and I can enjoy it.

  2. Pingback: Fanboying “Applebuck Season” (again) | My Sword Is Unbelievably Dull

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