Recap: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S2 E14: "The Last Roundup"
A rousing sendoff at the Ponyville train station.
Pinkie Pie: Speech! Speech! Applejack: Oh, shucks. I'm not much for speeches. Pinkie Pie: All right then, no speech! [runs off] Applejack: ...but... Pinkie Pie:[runs back]
Written by Amy Keating Rogers
The episode begins as Applejack runs an obstacle course to practice for the upcoming Equestrian Rodeo in Canterlot. As she's won ten Ponyville rodeos in a row, everyone expects her to return with lots of blue ribbons (and tons of prize money to fix the damaged town hall; Derpy Hooves has outdone herself in the screwup department). After a flattering goodbye from all of Ponyville, AJ sets off for Canterlot.A week later, everypony has gathered at Sweet Apple Acres to throw a surprise party for Applejack's return... but she doesn't show. A delivery pony arrives with a telegram from Applejack:
Twilight Sparkle: "Family and friends: Not coming back to Ponyville. Don't worry, will send money soon." ...that's all there is.
Stunned at Applejack's refusal to return, Twilight and the others declare they'll find Applejack and bring her back. They set off to search for their friend.After a brief stop at the rodeo grounds, the ponies arrive in Dodge Junction, where they find Applejack has accepted a job at Cherry Jubilee's cherry orchard. AJ insists she just wanted a change of scenery, but her friends don't buy it and decide to stick around to try and get some answers.The ponies fail to get anything out of Applejack at first, but when they weaponize Pinkie Pie's chatterbox nature, Applejack finally caves. She swears a Pinkie Promise to tell them everything the next morning at breakfast... but she never shows.That's when the others discover that it is never a good idea to break a Pinkie Promise.The ponies look for Applejack and find her trying to get out of Dodge (literally) via stagecoach! They give chase, accidentally losing Pinkie Pie and Rarity in the process. Applejack thinks she's safe when a Friendship Express Train passes and blocks her friends' pursuit, but Rainbow and Fluttershy fly over it and knock her over, revealing the real reason Applejack didn't return: She won ribbons in every event, but not one blue ribbon — and no prize money for the town hall repairs. Applejack was too ashamed to return empty-hoofed after everypony's build-up, so she took the job at Cherry Jubilee's so she could earn money to send home.The friends all assure Applejack that it doesn't matter what color ribbons she won; having her home with them in Ponyville means more than any prize.AJ, back on the Friendship Express Train home, narrates her letter to Princess Celestia:
"It's a tad easier to be proud when you come in first than it is when you finish further back, but there's no reason to hide when you don't do as well as you'd hoped. You can't run away from your problems. Better to run to your friends and family!
As they return to Ponyville, Applejack is greeted warmly by her friends and dogpiled by her family.Meanwhile, Pinkie and Rarity are making their way back on a hoofcar after being knocked off the cart during the chase to catch Applejack. Pinkie is chattering incessantly, and Rarity is muttering dire implications for Rainbow Dash, who refused to go back for them.
Tropes present in this episode (YMMV tropes can be found here):
Absentee Actor: Only Spike doesn't appear in this episode, although his voice actress is present as both the Mayor and the mailpony.
Ascended Fanon / Ascended Meme: Rainbow Dash calls a certain wall-eyed grey pegasus "Derpy" on-screen. If it wasn't canon before... it is now. Then de-canon'd by Hasbro executives after the "Ableist" Controversy (for lack of a better name for it).
Benevolent Boss / Nice Pony: Cherry Jubilee, who gladly offers Applejack a job with room and board when she hears she's looking for a "change of scenery", and tells her workers to have fun before they get started.
Beware the Silly Ones: You do NOT want to break a Pinkie Promise. The silly party girl led the chase and jumped onto the coach to chew Applejack out for it.
Big "NO!": Applejack's driven to this by Pinkie's rambling.
Bowdlerise: The new version of the episode has Derpy's scene completely re-recorded to remove her Simpleton Voice and partially re-animated to make her eyes less googly, along with removing her name. While the "Friendship Express" DVD retained the original version of the scene, as it was pressed before the controversy, the season 2 DVD has the new edited version present.
Break the Cutie: We don't find out until the end, but her failure at the rodeo did this to Applejack. Just listen to her voice when she reveals this to the rest of the Mane Cast.
We learn that the town that Applejack went to after the rodeo is named Dodge Junction. At the very start of the chase scene, Applejack says, "I gotta get the heck outta Dodge!"
During the chase scene, Pinkie jumps to get on the carriage with Applejack. After AJ's apology, Pinkie jumps back onto the chase cart with the quick line "Rarity catch me!", knocking them both off the cart. At the very end of the episode, we see Pinkie and Rarity traveling together on a hoof cart... and Pinkie still can't decide what she wants to name her new recipe (or is simply enjoying saying the silly words).
Pinkie briefly forgets about her Potty Emergency after spotting Applejack, but soon has to excuse herself again.
Broken Ace: Similar to her previous limelight episode, the opening sets up Applejack as highly cherished for her talents and reliability and completely unable to accept an instance of failure and letting someone down as a result.
Big Mac is as tearful and heartbroken as Granny Smith and Apple Bloom at the idea that Applejack isn't coming home.
Rainbow Dash also tears up near the end of the episode.
Call Back: Pinkie Promises have returned, and this time, we see what happens when you break one.
Applejack rattling off all those cherry dishes is reminiscent of how she first introduces herself to Twilight. This time, however, she's more matter-of-fact than enthusiastic.
Applejack lost the first event of the Iron Pony Contest in "Fall Weather Friends" on a technicality—she bumped into one of the barrels in a slalom. In the first few moments of The Last Roundup, she nudges the steeplechase hurdle, and eventually fails to take first place in anything.
In "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", Applejack got her cutie mark at the same time she realized that Sweet Apple Acres was where she truly belonged, which justifies how Granny and Apple Bloom consider it very much out of character for her to abandon her home and family. Big Mac's despondency upon finding out she's not coming back also hearkens back to his sadness when she first left as a filly.
Pinkie falling from the cart and taking Rarity with her mirrors a scene from "The Return of Harmony, Part 2", in which the same thing happens in the Twinkling Balloon. Applejack being unable to face an unpleasant truth and trying to duck the consequences also calls back to "Return of Harmony, Part 1". Furhtermore, Applejack seems to have learned from experience how terrible she is at lying and instead resorts to refusing to talk at all to avoid it.
Not only is Applejack's planned surprise party thrown in what appears to be the same barn as a certain other one, at the beginning of the scene, we hear what seems to be a slight variation of the very same music which is played during Pinkie's psychotic breakdown in the same episode. Foreshadowing?
The four ponies pulling the carriage look an awful lot like the ones that pulled the train in "Over A Barrel". Their annoyance at AJ's whipping their reins is reminiscent of the annoyance Rarity's friends expressed when Spike did the same in "The Best Night Ever".
The background ponies at Applejack's surprise party were all present at the Apple family reunion... except for Bon-Bon, who apparently decided to crash the party. She's also present during the sendoff and a few other group scenes. Maybe she's a member of the Apple family too? Or a friend?
Cross-Dressing Voices: With a bizarre twist. Tabitha St. Germain thought Derpy was a boy and voiced "him" accordingly, putting on her best male voice. Only after the episode's premiere on The Hub did the fans gently correct her.
Miss Jubilee says Applejack won so many ribbons. She isn't wrong; they're just not blue.
Every Man Has His Price / Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: When Applejack hires a carriage to skip town and her friends start chasing her, both Applejack and Twilight try to buy the pulling stallions by offering them double pay if they run faster, then triple pay if they slow down and finally quadruple pay if they run at top speed and leave the girls eating their dust. The stallions happily accept every offer without a single beat.
At the end, the stallions decide that not even quadruple pay is worth risking their lives for Applejack and they ditch her.
Exasperated Perp: Rainbow Dash's plan to get Applejack to talk is to let Pinkie Pie annoy her into submission.
Fandom Nod: Considering that this episode canonized Derpy, it can't be coincidence that Dinky Hooves and Carrot Top (who are closely associated with Derpy in Fanon) make several cameos and can even be seen together when Applejack's train leaves, sitting in the train car that Derpy appears in during the season 2 opening sequence and the previous episode.
Floorboard Failure: Derpy manages to break through the town hall's floor simply by sitting down.
In her practice run during the Cold Open, AJ's back leg dings one of the steeplechase hurdles and two of the hay bales she threw didn't cross the finish line, which are the sort of technicalities that would cost her a blue ribbon. Lampshaded because AJ didn't seem overly concerned about either of these, suggesting either complacency or over-confidence in her prior training.
In Apple Bloom's Mr. Exposition moment she appends "in Ponyville" to Applejack's list of accomplishments too many times for Genre Savvy viewers not to think "...but not in Canterlot."
Applejack realizes that celebrating her getaway from her friends is premature when the two Pegasi pulling the cart simply fly over the Friendship Express Train in their way.
Happened at the beginning of the chase scene as well. Rainbow Dash apparently forgot that she could fly faster than the stallions pulling the coach could run, and Twilight apparently forgot that she could just teleport into Applejack's coach.
Twilight Sparkle. The telegram pony was sincerely delighted by the party (it was apparently his birthday). Twilight's actions to point out his mistake included scowling at him and slamming the door in his face, doubling his embarrassment and hurt feelings. Justified from her point of view, of course, because of her worry about Applejack's failure to return home.
Pinkie makes up for it by giving him a piece of cake immediately afterward.
Keep Circulating the Tapes: If you preferred the original version of Derpy's scene over the edited version, then you'd better keep a vicegrip on that Friendship Express DVD—it's the only place (outside of DVRs and YouTube uploads) you'll be able to see it.
The rodeo is mentioned and is a major plot point, but we don't get many details on it other than a few names and that Applejack didn't win first in any event.
Exactly how the town hall was in the shape it was in is left up in the air, though Rainbow Dash's dialog certainly suggests Derpy had a heavy hoof in it.
This was confirmed by the writer of the episode, who said that the original script had a short flashback where we see Ditzy Doo (the pegasus that interacted with Rainbow Dash in the script, who has been confirmed not to be the same as Derpy) accidentally break Town Hall. The scene was cut for time and for shifting the episode's focus away from the main plot.
Three of the Mane Five guessing how they might have made Applejack leave town. Twilight and Rarity's guesses are pretty mundane, but Rainbow Dash made a cloud rain on her for some reason.
Applejack, once Pinkie found out she broke her promise.
And again, after managing to hide herself behind a train, the two pegusi just fly over it.
The Mane Six minus Applejack, after seeing they'll have to go to Dodge.
Orwellian Retcon: The famous Derpy scene has been altered: Derpy is no longer referred to by name (except in The Hub's closed captions, since they weren't updated to match the new version), her googly eyes are much less googly, her voice has been re-dubbed to be more The Ditz, and Rainbow doesn't use as harsh of a tone when speaking to her. This was revealed to be a response to a number of complaints that Derpy seemed insensitive to the mentally challenged, against the show's message of tolerance. While the episode's writer, Amy Keating Rogers, believed changing the episode would only complicate things (since the praise and thanks she had received FAR outweighed the hate mail), the decision was out of her hands.
Subcontracted animation teams confirmed the grey cock-eyed pegasus is still around, and that none of her upcomingcameos will be altered. Time will tell if that continues to be true in Season 3, since the main team in Vancouver isn't talking.
"I can't tell y'all the truth!" She's technically not lying to them. She just isn't saying anything on the matter. Also, she is being honest when she says "I can't tell y'all the truth". She expects them to think less of her for failing. Finally, she promised at the beginning of the episode that she would use the prize money from the rodeo to fix the roof. When she didn't win any prize money, she felt she would be breaking that promise should she return home empty-hoofed.
Also, Rainbow Dash leaving Rarity and Pinkie behind? Element of Loyalty!? Justified as her loyalty was focused on Applejack at the time. Discord forced her to realize that she can't be loyal to conflicting parties at the same time. Rarity and Pinkie were near a town and could get back with little difficulty. Bringing Applejack back and showing the rest of the Apple Family that she was okay was a bigger priority for the rest of the Mane Six.
Potty Emergency: Pinkie really needs to go to the bathroom when they get to Dodge Junction.
Pride: Once again, the source of Applejack's problems comes from her fear of failure (in this case, the consequences of such) and her self-image.
Quivering Eyes: When Apple Bloom hears her big sister's not coming home, and then the whole family as Granny says, "Our little bushel has lost one apple."
Reverse Whodunnit: To every viewer except perhaps the Target Audience, it is blindingly transparent what Applejack's problem is, from the moment her letter home uses one of its two sentences to say "Don't worry, will send money".
Stock Sound Effects: When one pony finally says she knows where Applejack is and points to the distant desert, there's the shriek of a raptor bird. (Last heard in "May the Best Pet Win" when Rainbow announces the race through Ghastly Gorge.)
Suddenly Voiced: Derpy finally gets her own speaking lines! And is (well, was) officially named, too!
During the conveyor belt sorting scene, she's running very fast in the flywheel, causing her tail and mane to fly behind her even though they should fall normally because she's staying in one spot.
Although the flywheel is mounted to the side of the conveyor belt, when Applejack stops suddenly after running very fast on it, the cherries fly forward, yet somehow still manage to plaster Applejack. Of course, it was rather humorous.
Train Escape: Applejack crosses a train track in order to block her friends with an oncoming Friendship Express Train. It doesn't work, as Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash just fly over the train.
Trampled Underfoot: Defied. Fluttershy spots a desert rabbit in their path and screeches to a halt. The glower Rainbow Dash gives her implies Rainbow might've jumped over the bunny... or just kept going.
Vitriolic Best Buds: Rainbow Dash, whose most notable interactions with Applejack are usually rivalistic or argumentative, is the most vehement on bringing her back to Ponyville and is the most aggressive about it.
Rainbow Dash: Excuse me, AJ, but we didn't travel all over Equestria searching for you to come home without you!
Applejack: Well I didn't ask you to come looking for me!
What the Hell, Hero?: Applejack is willing to endanger four of the Dodge Junction ponies with that railroad crossing stunt just to keep her embarrassment and the fact she didn't win any money for Ponyville at all from her friends. This makes them write her off, even though she promised them quadruple to leave her friends in the dust.