Recap: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S1 E21 "Over a Barrel"
Rarity: Applejack! Were you reading a bedtime story to an apple tree?
Written by Dave PolskyAnd now for somewhere completely different. We open with the ponies riding a train (pulled by ponies, no less) out into the Wild West as Applejack fondly reads a bedtime story.... to a tree. Rarity is not amused by this, or the fact that "Bloomberg" gets an entire cabin all to himself. And why are our little ponies on a train with a tree in the Wild West you ask? To deliver said tree to a new settlement founded by Applejack's relatives as a gift!After the the title credits play we cut back to the train at night time. While Spike & Rarity try to go to sleep, the rest of the cast have a thoughtful discussion on whether or not Fluttershy is a tree. Spike decides he can't take it and bunks with Bloomberg in the other cabin, apologizing in advance for any snoring he may do. Morning comes and well would you look at that! A herd of buffalo! They have amazing feather accessories! And they're getting close to the train! Really close!Close enough, in fact, they start side-ramming the train (and the ponies pulling it). When that doesn't stop the train, a small female buffalo hops on top of the train and heads to the back cabin where Bloomberg and Spike (who's sleeping through all of this) are. Rainbow Dash attempts to stop the buffalo girl. She fails. Buffalo girl detaches the cabin with Bloomberg and Spike (who's now awake and screaming for help) and the buffalo get away. Rainbow decides to go after the accursed dragon-nappers while suffering from a headache.The train reaches its destination and Applejack, Twilight, Rarity, and Fluttershy are instantly greeted by AJ's cousin Braeburn who's all too happy to show them the sights and wonders of APPLELOOSA! After getting a full tour of the town, much to their dismay, Twilight and Co. explain to Braeburn that Spike & Bloomberg have been kidnapped by buffalo, Rainbow Dash went off after them, and Pinkie Pie disappeared off-screen. Braeburn explains that the local buffalo have been causing them trouble for quite some time and want the town's prized apple orchard gone.Meanwhile Rainbow Dash is using stealth espionage action to locate Spike and get back at the buffalo girl. No one tricks Rainbow Dash and gets away with it! She runs into Pinkie Pie out of nowhere. They start to argue, and then buffalo show up out of nowhere. And Spike! He's all right.As it turns out, Spike has become bros with the buffalo. He introduces them to Little Strongheart, the buffalo girl that kicked Rainbow Dash's tail earlier, and Chief Thunderhooves, the tribe's leader. They explain to Dash and Pinkie that the Appleloosa ponies have planted their orchard all over their sacred stampeding grounds without their permission. Rainbow Dash agrees and declares they have some apple-picking Appleloosians to talk to.The next morning, the Appleloosa gang are all set to hike deep into buffalo territory to rescue their friends. They take 10 steps out of town to find Pinkie, Dash, and Spike right there. Glomps and nuzzles are exchanged, and Rainbow reveals they've brought their new friend Little Strongheart to explain why the Appleloosans should move their apple orchard. Applejack tells them that Braeburn would like to explain why the trees should stay (because the grove is on the only farmable land in the area). Rainbow and Applejack start arguing for them. How will they resolve this conflict? Fear not, for Pinkie Pie the pretty party pony has the perfect plan.This plan is to dress up in an adorable showgirl outfit and sing a song about sharing and caring to everypony (and everybuffalo). It…doesn't go over well.
- Chief Thunderhooves: It seems the sheriff and I have come to an agreement... that was the worst performance we've ever seen.
Tropes present in this episode (YMMV tropes can be found here):
- Accidental Kidnapping: The Buffalo tribe did this with Spike, unaware that he was in the same train car as Bloomberg.
- Adorkable: Applejack, mothering and fawning over Bloomberg at the beginning of the episode. Braeburn also counts.
- Badass Adorable:
- The citizens of Appleloosa are a textbook version of this. Cute cowboy and cowgirl hats? Check. Building a town and growing a huge apple orchard in just a year, in the middle of the desert? Check. Standing firm, defending their town from a huge Buffalo tribe several times bigger and stronger than them, gaining the upper hand and defeating them with apple pies as weapons? Check!!
- Fan-favorite background pony Carrot Top takes the cake in the battle. She jumps out of the second story of a building, lands on a buffalo's back and rides him rodeo style all while having a big grin on her face!
- Little Strongheart, who is smaller than any of the ponies (and much smaller than any of the other buffalo) but does the bulk of the work in stealing the apple tree, and shows up Rainbow Dash in the process.
- Big "Shut Up!":Rarity: Would you all be quiet NOOOOW!
- Clueless Aesop: In-Universe. Pinkie Pie's song about sharing is so annoying, it makes things worse.
- Companion Cube: Bloomberg the apple tree.
- Death Glare: Rarity delivers a rather comical one◊ at the beginning.
- Determined Homesteader: The citizens of Appleloosa aren't going to let heat, a lack of farm land, and hostile buffaloes stop them.
- Disneyfication: Of the treatment of Native Americans in the west.
- Dreadful Musician: Pinkie Pie, according to everyone else.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- The horse-drawn train is never used again after this episode. In "MMMystery On The Friendship Express", the train is explicitly shown to have a steam engine.
- This train has a steam locomotive as well, but a smaller one than the standard Equestria trains. Perhaps the engine-ponies acted as "helpers", allowing the small locomotive to pull the train up steep hills.
- Edible Ammunition: Weaponized apple pies. Bakeries are transformed into munitions factories.
- Epic Fail: Pinkie Pie uses the power of her songs to deliver a message of caring and sharing to ponies and buffaloes. A reprise of her song ends up escalating the ''war'' between them before it was about to be quelled.
- Eyedscreen: Chief Thunderhooves gets this a couple of times.
- Face Death with Dignity: When the Sheriff runs out of pies with the Chief charging toward him, he places his hat over his chest and waits for the inevitable.
- Face Plant: Rainbow Dash slams face-first into a railroad sign during her first encounter with Little Strongheart.
- Fantastic Aesop: It's easy for your enemies to make peace with you if you fight them with Edible Ammunition.
- Fantastic Racism: To portray settlers Vs. natives, we have buffalo vs ponies.
- Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: The episode deals with a scenario much like early America's Indian Wars, settlers taking over the natives ancestral land for their own purposes, without native consent, which in turn cranks off the natives. Due to the nature of the show, things get resolved before they... escalate too far. More specifically, it could been seen as a fantasy analogue of the conflict over the Black Hills, extremely religiously significant to the Lakota people (much like the buffalo tribe's stampeding path) but also containing a lot of gold and minerals (and therefore of economic significance, much like the apple orchard is to the Appleloosans)
- Furry Confusion: "We have all of the finest comforts. Like horse-drawn carriages…" "Okay, you pull now." "Aw, we just switched!"
- Furry Reminder:
- There's a saloon in Appleloosa called "The Salt Block" where ponies serve salt to customers. This may seem bizarre but if you're familiar with real horses then you would know that salt is an important source of nutrition for horses (usually served in a form of solid blocks of salt). It also helps them keep cool especially in hot areas (like the desert environment where Appleloosa is) through the minerals the salt they consume provides.
- "AAAAAApple-loosa! Hreeheeheehee!"
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: A pony blatantly drunk on salt licks gets thrown out of the canteen at one point.
- The Glomp: Fluttershy may be timid, but she isn't above pouncing on a friend she's very happy and relieved at seeing.
- Hurricane of Puns: The tour of Appleloosa. Horse-drawn carriages (with the ponies switching off who was drawing it...), followed by horse-drawn horse-drawn carriages (ponies drawing the above), followed by wild west dances, then mild west dances...
- I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham: The buffalo don't even consider the apple orchard a potential source of food until Chief Thunderhooves takes a Pie in the Face and discovers he loves the taste.
- Injun Country: With buffalos as the natives, the desert is this for them.
- Keet: Applejack's cousin, Braeburn. It's quite telling when the first glimpse of him we get is a grin that takes up the majority of his face.
- Lock and Load Montage: When the buffaloes and townsponies start preparing for battle.
- Motor Mouth: It takes a good while for Applejack to say anything over Braeburn's extremely enthusiastic introduction to Appleloosa.
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- Applejack seems really horrified during the townsponies' Lock and Load Montage; if she and Rainbow Dash hadn't been so busy arguing over who was right, maybe Braeburn and Little Strongheart could have sorted things out diplomatically. At the least, she brought Pinkie Pie along, who technically started the war.
- Everyone, pony and buffalo alike, starts acting this way when a stray pie downs Chief Thunderhooves.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
- If Applejack and Rainbow Dash hadn't been so adamant in defending either side of the conflict and just let them talk, maybe the conflict wouldn't have gotten out of hand.
- Things aren't dangerous until Pinkie Pie does one of her song and dance routines, which is so bad In-Universe that Chief Thunderhooves angrily decides that the buffaloes will have to fight the ponies for their land back.
- When Chief Thunderhooves decides against attacking the town, Pinkie Pie shows up and makes the Chief change his mind by repeating her horrible song.
- Oh Crap!:
- Little Strongheart quickly recognizes a rather edgy Rainbow Dash when Spike introduces his friends.
- Everyone when Chief Thunderhooves is shot down...by an apple pie.
- Only Sane Man: Braeburn and Little Strongheart seem perfectly willing to have a reasonable discussion, but everyone around them keeps being adamantly belligerent.
- Overly Long Gag:"My father stampeded upon these grounds... and his father before him... and his father before him... and his father before him... and his father before him... and his father before him..."
- As Chief Thunderhooves says it, we cut to the other buffalo falling asleep, and finally Little Strongheart hoofs him in the jaw, whereupon he gets to the point.
- Pie in the Face: Used by the settlers as if they were weapons. It works.
- Riding into the Sunset: The ending of the episode, complete with an Iris Out which Pinkie Pie briefly interrupts.
- Sapient Steed: Horse-drawn carriages, so it's to be expected. The stallion pulling it stops to tell the stallion inside the carriage that it's his turn to pull.
- Sarcasm-Blind: Pinkie Pie, who completely derails Rainbow Dash's original point:Rainbow Dash: When we get to Appleoosa, you think we'll have to carry that heavy tree all the way from the train to the orchard?
Pinkie Pie: What tree? You mean Bloomberg?
Rainbow Dash: [sarcastically] No. Fluttershy.
Pinkie Pie: Fluttershy's not a tree, silly.
Twilight Sparkle: What's going on?
Pinkie Pie: Rainbow Dash thinks Fluttershy's a tree.
Rainbow Dash: I do not think she's a tree, I was just...
Twilight Sparkle: Did you say she was a tree?
Rainbow Dash: No... well, yes... but... not exactly ...
Twilight Sparkle: You know she's not a tree, right?
Pinkie Pie: She's not a tree, Dashie.
Fluttershy: ...I'd like to be a tree.
- Saving the World with Art: Pinkie Pie tries to invoke this to stop the ponies of Appleloosa and the native buffalo fighting. After her show, the sheriff and the buffalo chief agree... that her performance was the worst thing they ever heard.
- Schizo Tech: Downplayed. Trains in Equestria are shown to have gas-lit cars.
- Scooby-Dooby Doors: Sleeper car berths, anyway. Happens when the mane cast (sans Applejack) is bouncing around the train.
- Shout-Out: Early in the episode, Fluttershy calls Spike Huffy the Magic Dragon.
- Showgirl Skirt: Definitely invoked with Pinkie Pie's costume for her musical number.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Closer to the center than you might think given the series reputation. Most of both sides are unwilling to compromise or even talk to the other and the situation escalates into full-on violence that neither side wants and both sides regret. Only after a number of "causalities" is an agreement worked out that can make both sides happy.
- Stunned Silence: Follows Pinkie Pie's song, rightfully enough. Only Spike's earnest clapping (and the forlorn cry of a hawk) disturbs it.
- Talking to Plants: Applejack not only talks to Bloomberg, but reads him a bedtime story.
- That Reminds Me of a Song: Pinkie's performance makes the situation worse, twice. The first, the buffalo chief and the sheriff say that that was the worst performance they have ever seen, and the chief decides the next day they will stampede. When they do, the chief has second thoughts, and looks like he's not going to go through with it, until Pinkie starts singing again, which causes him to go through with it.
- Train Job: The buffalo make a heist for Bloomberg.
- Traintop Battle: Little Strongheart vs. Rainbow Dash.
- Tribal Face Paint: The buffalo put this on before the final battle.
- What Measure Is a Mook?: During the final battle, nameless buffaloes were getting pies in the face left and right and nopony bats an eyelash, but when Chief Thunderhooves gets hit, it triggers a mass My God, What Have I Done? for everypony, even though the pie was a Non-Lethal K.O..