MLP:FIM season 4, episode 17 – “Somepony to Watch Over Me” – thoughts and review

I had no idea what to make of this one from the title alone. I mean, that sounds like a romantic story, if anything, but I figured the chances of that were pretty low. It turned out to be something much more silly.

To start us off, we’ve got the CMC in worry mode. Applebloom, in particular, can’t stop pacing. Something important is going down (or at least, important to them – with the CMC, that could be damn near anything). Muffled voices can be heard from behind the door, as the rest of the apple family discuss… something.

What were they discussing in there? Cutbacks they might have to make because of poor sales? A new type of apple they are considering using? What to do about the relative lack of Applejack-centric episodes?

What were they discussing in there? Cutbacks they might have to make because of poor sales? A new type of apple they are considering using? What to do about the relative lack of Applejack-centric episodes?

Within moments, AJ, Big Mac, and Granny Smith emerge from this closed-door meeting, looking rather serious. The moment of truth comes! The adults loom over the three fillies as Granny Smith starts talking really slowly, like the Entmoot presiding over Merry and Pippin.

I have told your names to the Applemoot, and we have agreed - you are NOT Changelings.

I have told your names to the Applemoot, and we have agreed – you are NOT Changelings.

And… as it turns out, they were discussing whether or not they were okay with leaving Applebloom all by her lonesome, while the three older Apples went off to take care of various tasks away from Ponyville. Upon hearing that the answer is yes, AB is pretty stoked, which is understandable, really.

Granny is off to go see “Great Aunt Pineapple”, whereas Big Mac and AJ are both off to make deliveries to rather hard to reach towns. Applebloom, her excitement at the prospect of being home by herself barely contained (and by “barely”, I mean “not at all”), sees them off.

But not before AJ gives her a list of "helpful reminders" that's almost long enough to make Twilight proud.

But not before AJ gives her a list of “helpful reminders” that’s almost long enough to make Twilight proud.

And before they’ve gone even a kilometer past Ponyville, AJ starts worryin’.

Actually, I have no idea how far outside the town they are at this point, but it can't be THAT far since AJ runs back home.

Actually, I have no idea how far outside the town they are at this point, but it can’t be THAT far since AJ runs back home.

Much to Big Mac’s chagrin, Applejack simply can’t help herself – she’s concocted all kinds of silly scenarios in her mind involving Applebloom getting hurt after forgetting how to open a drawer. She decides she simply must head back and check on her, and at this point, it’s pretty easy to see more or less where this is going.

Big Mac is clearly on the same page as the audience here.

Big Mac is clearly on the same page as the audience here.

We go back to AB, and see that she’s finished everything on AJs list, and is in fact doing okay. UNTIL… she trips and falls and knocks over a bunch of jars and whatnot. But the kicker is the fact that it was totally AJs fault.

"Are you okay?!" "Well, I WAS until SOMEPONY burst in and scared me half to death and made me lose my balance!"

“Are you okay?!”
“Well, I WAS until SOMEPONY burst in and scared me half to death and made me lose my balance!”

I actually laughed out loud a moment later when – as AJ begins to clean up – AB points out that really, this little incident was in fact Applejack’s fault. I had expected that to go unvoiced, as it often does in situations like this (in most TV shows, not just this one).

But, overall, I feel that this is where the episode itself follows Applebloom’s lead, tripping and falling on its face. The bulk of the episode’s middle section is basically wall-to-wall antics centered around the concept of AJ being so worried about ABs safety that she abandons the notion of leaving her alone – EVER. Like, she flat-out says “I’m not leaving you alone for even a second ever again.” Not verbatim, but just about. It’s all played for laughs, and some of the individual gags are indeed funny, but the whole thing is a little weird. Feels like a regression. Yes, AB has a tendency to get into trouble sometimes, but that’s actually part of the point – she’s been running around with her friends, doing fun things, and sometimes doing dumb things that have the potential to land them in trouble or even cause them to get hurt. Which seems to be more or less par for the course when it comes to being a filly that age in this world. And yet suddenly, Applejack is positively terrified of the idea of Applebloom getting into any kind of trouble, and all this is triggered by… her being by herself at home? In the place where she grew up? The place she knows every square inch of backwards and forwards? As opposed to the times when she’s by herself (or with her friends, but with no adults around… or really, with no Applejack around, which is clearly the point from her point of view) in the clubhouse, planning some crazy stunt, or off in Ponyville somewhere, acting out said stunt, like she’s done a million times since this show began… That’s all just fine, apparently, but being alone at HOME for a few days? I can’t deal with that.

Basically, the whole premise of AJ’s paranoia makes no sense. It feels like it’s just shoehorned in because they had decided on what the general theme of the ep was going to be (AB being suffocated by AJ’s overbearing protectiveness) and worked backwards from there. Which can be fine, but you have to keep walking backwards until you’ve reached the very beginning of the path and have a logical starting point for the chain of events in-universe. I feel the writers didn’t do that this time around.

Of course, what this was actually all about was not Applejack being literally worried that Applebloom was going to hurt herself opening a door, but her being unable to deal with letting Applebloom grow up, with accepting the changes that are coming into her life as her sister begins to mature. But, since the writing in this case wasn’t up to the challenge, that idea gets lost amid the silliness of AJs inexplicable cloying protectiveness.

To get us back into a humorous mood, and because hilarious out-of-context screenshots are something I'm becoming obsessed with lately, have this.

To get us back into a humorous mood, and because hilarious out-of-context screenshots are something I’m becoming obsessed with lately, have this.

Eventually, AB – having reached her wits end – decides on a course of action: she’s going to ditch AJ by taking the cart she was hauling and completing her pie deliveries for her, to the aforementioned (but as yet unnamed) “incredibly hard to reach town”. Meanwhile, the other two CMC stand in for their third, taking turns donning one of ABs signature bows and hiding in plain sight, pretending to be a snoozing Applebloom.

Sweetie Belle's voice cracks while "mmmhmm"-ing to agree with Scootaloo about the plan. I have no reason to post this screenshot other than because of how adorable this was.

Sweetie Belle’s voice cracks while “mmmhmm”-ing to agree with Scootaloo about the plan. I have no reason to post this screenshot other than because of how adorable this was.

Applebloom loves the idea, and is so confident now that they have a plan in place, she decides it’s time for a song!

Which is promptly cut off by Scootaloo who hears AJ coming back. “No time for a song!” That was a pretty clever little meta moment.

So, AB makes a daring escape out the window and races off with the cart in tow. Back in her room, AJ can be heard through the door, asking if everything is all right. Sweetie jumps into bed and Scootaloo hides in the cabinet as Applejack enters, and for the time being, their ruse works.

Though I always thought the angle on this shot was kind of weird. To me it looks like AJ can plainly see Sweetie's mane!

Though I always thought the angle on this shot was kind of weird. To me it looks like AJ can plainly see Sweetie’s mane and horn!

Naturally, such a ruse can only last for so long, and it’s ultimately broken in a rather amusing fashion. AJs admittance that maybe she was being just a teensy bit overprotective (JUST A BIT) leads Scootaloo, hiding in the closet during one of Sweetie Belle’s snooze shifts

for a WHILE, apparently

for a WHILE, apparently

to forget her situation and exclaim that AB will be so relieved to hear this! At which point, a rather startled Applejack goes over to the closet to investigate, leading to what is by far the best scene in the whole episode.

"Scootaloo?!" "Ah, um..... no?"

“Scootaloo?!”
“Ah, um….. no?”

HUGE kudos to Maddy Peters on that delivery, which takes an already funny scene and cranks it up eleven. This hasn’t been one of my favorite episodes of the season so far, but that “no?” made me laugh so hard my sides hurt.

Having been given an actual legitimate reason to worry, AJ bolts, heading off to try and find Applebloom before something bad happens.

And as we soon see, she ain't worryin' over nothin' this time!

And as we soon see, she ain’t worryin’ over nothin’ this time!

Applebloom does a damn impressive job evading the chimera for a while! And then, a brief argument between the… heads, buys enough time for Applejack to show up and intervene. During Applejack’s showing of badassery, we see why she asked Scoots and Sweetie if AB had brought – of all things – flame-proof boots, a lion tamer’s chair, a snake charming flute, and a hunk of ricotta. Which, at the time, was quite the puzzling inquiry.

Finding out that Applebloom managed to not only drag the cart up here, but protect it from the flaming swamp and chimera, by herself, is enough to finally get through to Applejack what maybe she doesn’t need to constantly watch over her little sister.

The episode ends with the two of them finally reconciling everything in the “hard to reach town”, which turns out to be populated by Cajun ponies and never does get a name, sadly.

Baton... Hoof? Uh... I dunno, I'm bad at ponyfying city names.

Baton, uh… Hoof? I dunno, I suck at ponyfying city names.

So, this was a strange episode to review, because it had a fairly interesting creature, a visit to a new part of Equestria, and a bunch of pretty funny singular moments, but it also had a weak, poorly executed main story by the standards of this show. Like “Simple Ways”, I wouldn’t say it was bad – I don’t want my 22 minutes back or anything – but it was definitely not up to par, and it earns the same 5.5 that episode got. Still decently fun to watch, but nothing special, and nowhere near as good as some of this season’s highlight eps.

-Saito S

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