What Applejack and Rainbow Dash’s Elements of Harmony Should Have Been

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My OC is designed and drawn by MizuTakishima: http://mizuki-takashima.tumblr.com/

More stuff by me: http://modalhsoul.wordpress.com/

Separated At Birth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoDfRGV7KJc

Vivix – Twilight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waIjrIzumlQ

Digibrony After Dark: http://www.youtube.com/user/DigibronyAfterDark

I’ve never been able to buy into the idea that Applejack represents the element of honesty. I’ve talked about how her initial trial doesn’t really make sense as a test of honesty, and over the course of the show, I don’t think she’s ever really connected with that trait in a meaningful way.

Just look at the other elements. Rarity has had two fantastic episodes about the highs and lows of trying to be a generous pony. Pinkie Pie had an episode dedicated to explaining and analyzing what it means to be the element of laughter. Fluttershy had a great episode about being the element of kindness. Twilight’s element is the magic of friendship, and understanding this element is the basis of her entire character arc.

A great point was made by my buddies over at Friendship Is Witchcraft with the joke in episode three, and in the video, “seperated at birth,” about how Applejack and Rainbow Dash seem to have been given one-another’s elements. And I think that’s true, but I wouldn’t keep the same words to describe either of them.

Applejack describes herself as the “loyalist of friends and most dependable of ponies,” in episode four, but I think dependability is the thing which represents her more. Applejack is the foundation of the mane six, like the bass guitar in a rock band—she’s someone that the others can fall back on and count on to keep the group together.

What makes Applejack a great friend is that she’s always there for you. She represents comraderie, togetherness, and family. Applejack’s first scene shows her introducing Twilight to her entire family, but the important message of this scene is when AJ says, “you’re practically part of the family already.” Applejack represents home, and having someone to come to and rely on.

Nearly all of her episodes deal with this attribute. She had an episode about realizing that having fun with her family isn’t about what they do together, but the fact that they’re doing it together. She had an episode about realizing that her family wasn’t going to be disappointed if she didn’t live up to their expectations. She had an episode about friends and family sticking up for one-another (kinda). She had an episode about learning to depend on others as much as they depend on her.

And while we’re on the subject, Rainbow Dash would well represent the element of honesty, but it would be best if we broadened it to be the element of authenticity. This is the subject of nearly every Rainbow Dash episode! She’s had more than one episode about learning to be honest with herself, and she had one episode wherein her crowning moment of awesome was being honest to her convictions over her desires. Not to mention that unlike AJ, who is honest in a general sense, just like the rest of the main six, Rainbow Dash is honest to a fault, to the point that she doesn’t know how to be dishonest for the sake of others.

I feel like there was a huge missed opportunity with these two when it came to chosing their elements, and the lessons of their episodes would be felt much more strongly if they’d been switched around and modified a little. What do you think?

4 thoughts on “What Applejack and Rainbow Dash’s Elements of Harmony Should Have Been

  1. It’s always iffy when people try to figure out “what Elements mean” or “how they apply.” Inspiration—Generosity and all. Nonetheless, I think I’m on board here. They messed up AJ.

    The trials were a damn mess, though. A sea serpent excepting a mismatched mane as the other moustache-half? Rarity herself wouldn’t accept those aesthetic standards. Fuck outta here.

    The main question, it seems to me, is “What does it mean to represent one’s Element?”

    Honesty and truth are weird, as you know, because it comes down to what you think the individual needs. Shifting priorities. But how shaping *is* Dash’s authenticity, contextually? You can at least make the argument that Fluttershy’s being a doormat is “useful” to friendship or whatever. Authenticity brings issues down to something almost too inner-self or existential. Actually, it is a French existentialist concept, now that I think of it.

    Searching for good examples…ugh! Cranky Doodle probably wouldn’t count, because Pinkie acknowledged both Dash and Twilight’s comments at the same time. Ugh, again.

    One of the things I find weird about the ending of Sleepless in Ponyville (and I *really* like it!) is that you don’t ever *get* straightforward authenticity from Dash. “If you ever tell, I’m gonna deny it.” But Scoots sort of just…gets it, the falsity and the honesty together. It’s a little dark, conceptually, and it points out how malleable kids can be. Dash was the one who made Scoots feel nervous about snoring—but *she* was the one doing it the whole time!

    So I tend to be a little less leery of Dash’s Element as it is, because I can see her as believably loyal, if in an overdoing or impulsive way. She’s just not *conventionally* loyal to *people*. And if you can grant that, as I said before, the trials are ick, maybe you can make the loyalty thing work. Maaayyybe.

    After all, Rarity has been generous to her detriment. With Pinkie, you’re always meant to wonder how much of the enjoyment (or misery) is in her head—which I think is a fantastic way to handle it. Flutters has similar problems.

    Dash is the thrashing, blazing sidekick. She can stick to priorities or ends (again, unconventionally), but she’s usually scolded for failing to negotiating them fluidly. One of my favorite moments of the Crystal Empire arc is that she doesn’t hesitate to head off to find the Crystal Heart (she’s flying further, searching harder, than the trotting Twilight); she has to be stopped, redirected toward keeping up the ruse. So I think Authenticity works; I think Loyalty does too, in that her eps consistently involve well-delineated priorities. Her question is never, “should I be loyal,” but “which concepts/people I should be loyal to,” or “how I should execute my loyalties.” She just has trouble doing it in the sympathetic way we’re used to expecting.

    The problem is that, in such a case, you could substitute Loyalty for a bunch of other words. Honestly, I kind of think Faust needed to take five and come up with better Element names. Actually the whole thing is weird because the Elements aren’t too-well expounded upon or often even used, because the show concept never became straightforward adventure/action.

  2. Here’s what I think they should do.

    “Welcome Twilight. I have discovered a horrible thing; fifty thousand million years ago, an evil Harpy named Blaghobloodania briefly stole the Elements of Harmony and slightly corrupted them. As we have now discovered, Applejack and Rainbow Dash’s elements have been wrong this whole time. And now that Blaghobloodania has returned, we need to fix them if we intend to defeat her!”

    I adore this show’s willingness to retcon and alter itself as the new writers see fit. If they could do something like this, it would be really fantastic.

  3. I can see how dependability, heck, just overall trustworthiness would suit AJ as a more accurate element. I agree, the trails did a terrible job demonstrating her element properly. All the ponies are honest in a way. We do see that Applejack is a horrible liar, like in Party of One and the Discord arc. Watching those, I can link AJ with honesty. However, if you look at the Super Speedy Squeezy 6000 episode, where AJ learned nothing because all her past trails prepared her for such a moment, you can see dependability and trustworthiness shine like the Bat Signal in the night sky. As you said, AJ is dependable, but I think Trust would be a better element, since it links together dependability and honesty. Going back to the trials (blech) she even tells Twilight to trust her, that she’ snot lying. TRUST!

    Ah, then there is Rainbow Dash. She is loyal, but no more so than anypony else. She is loyal to her job, her friends, Ponyville, and Cloudsdale. The problem I see is that her element and AJ’s element are closely related to each other, making it difficult for one of them to truly claim it as their own element.

    Authenticity is good for her, I suppose, but Authenticity isn’t an element one would immediately associate with friendship. Truth, might be a better way to sum up her elemental traits. Can we say that RD has had to see the truth in something on multiple occasions. Can we say that she is always truthful, as she avoids sugar coating her opinions and thoughts?

    Just tossing it out there. Haha, this is the first time I’ve ever commented this deeply on MLP.

  4. consider this, one of the words commonly used interchangeably with honesty is earnest, the definition of earnest is a much closer match to the character of applejack. From Rainbow Dash, one of the words used to define Loyalty is Faithfulness. Both work if you consider the deeper meanings of with words. to be honest is to be earnest, however earnest implies a deeper personality trait than simple honesty. It is this serious and grave nature that applejack displays so often. While on the other hand Rainbow shows loyalty by remaining faithful to her ideals, or her friends, over her immediate desires. Mostly i think its a case of certain words have different meanings to different people. To me the elements made sense because i associate the traits honesty and loyalty with the older words, earnest and steadfastness, rather than the more modern interpretation of truth and reliability.

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