Recap: MLP: Friendship Is Magic S3 E6 "Sleepless in Ponyville"
Could it just be the snoring?
Rainbow Dash: I've been told that these woods are haunted...by the Headless Horse! It gallops only at night— Applejack: If it doesn't have a head, then how in tarnation does this pony know where it's goin'? Rainbow Dash: It's headless, not brainless. ...Looking for little lost ponies— Applejack: So where's its brain?
Written by Corey Powell
Scootaloo is riding through Ponyville and catching air off an impromptu ramp when Rainbow Dash drops in and says she has 'nice moves'. Thus Scootaloo becomes obsessed with getting the pegasus mare to take her under her wing. Apple Bloom invites the two to come along on a weekend camping trip with her, Applejack, Sweetie Belle, and (with a little convincing) Rarity. The trip goes off without a hitch as Scootaloo does everything she can to impress Rainbow Dash—but she starts to fray around the edges that night when Rainbow Dash tells a scary campfire story about a spooky Olden Pony searching for her missing rusty horseshoe. Scootaloo puts on a brave face that earns her a compliment from Rainbow Dash for her "fearlessness" but can't get a wink of sleep after suffering a terrible nightmare about the Olden Pony.The other ponies voice their concerns to the increasingly jumpy filly the next day, but Scootaloo plays it cool, unwilling to admit to her fears in front of Rainbow Dash. This coolness doesn't last long when she sees their next campsite: a deep, dark and spooky-looking cave. Scootaloo's nerves are further frayed when Rainbow Dash decides to tell another scary story, this time about the Headless Horse, who comes to haunt her dreams. Just as it corners Scootaloo, the Headless Horse is vaporized by Princess Luna, who's doing her nightly rounds around Equestria and monitoring the dreams of her subjects. Luna urges Scootaloo to confront her real fear—losing Rainbow Dash's approval—or the nightmares will never stop. With that, Scootaloo wakes up.With her latest nightmare still fresh in her mind, Scootaloo zooms off into the forest, but she takes a bad fall and ends up in the river. She is washed downstream toward certain doom but is saved by Rainbow Dash, who admonishes her for wandering off in the middle of the night. Remembering Princess Luna's words, Scootaloo finally opens up about her fears and her desire to have Rainbow Dash as a big sister figure. Rainbow Dash then reveals a secret: those scary stories she told terrified her when she was younger. She agrees to take Scootaloo under her wing, and they rejoin the group for an enjoyable weekend. Later, Scootaloo finds herself confronting the creepy Olden Pony again, but this time dreams up Rainbow Dash, who produces the missing rusty horseshoe and sends the Olden Pony on her way. Scootaloo's nightmare turns into a happy dream, while Luna looks on with approval.
Absentee Actor: Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Spike never appear.
Adult Fear: Going on a camping trip in the middle of a dark forest with your friends? Not scary. Having one of the kids you are supposed to be responsible for run off in the middle of the night into the dark forest? Scary. Finding said kid moments away from death with you the only one who can save them? Terrifying. Even more so considering it's shown Rainbow Dash really does care about Scootaloo like her little sister.
Dream!Rainbow Dash saves Scootaloo from the Olden Pony.
Big Entrance: Luna's still got it. Her face appears in the moon with glowing eyes before she appears in a flash of light, vaporizing the Headless Horse in the process. It befits her tastes but is much more heroic.
Big Fancy Tent: Rarity's tent is not only heavily decorated, but it's big enough to have a second (albeit small) story.
Big Sister Instinct: Finally revealed to be how Rainbow feels about Scootaloo. Not only does she treat her kindly during the trip, she rushes to her aid when she realizes Scoots is in danger, gives a speech not unlike an older sibling that was worried sick about a younger one, takes time to comfort her and finally takes her under her wing.
Scootaloo, given this was her first spotlight episode.
Very notable in Applejack and Rarity. Applejack is becoming more aware of Apple Bloom's feelings, comforting her when she's scared, etc, compared to her blissful ignorance of Apple Bloom's bullying in "One Bad Apple". Rarity agrees to go camping with Sweetie Belle and although she does make Sweetie pull her suitcases uphill, she still comforts Sweetie Belle when she gets scared and uses her magic to carry Sweetie Belle into the tent when she falls asleep.
Rainbow Dash gets points for confessing she's not always tough and confident to Scootaloo, as well as happily accepting the role as Scootaloo's big sister. Aww.
Princess Luna, now even with a bad-ass role of Princess of the Night to patrol ponies' dreams and helping Scootaloo to face her fears.
Face Your Fears: The Aesop of the episode, with an emphasis on facing the deeper fears that cause smaller ones.
Foreshadowing: Luna can be seen briefly in Scootaloo's first nightmare.
Fridge Logic: [invoked] Discussed by Applejack when Rainbow Dash tries to tell a campfire story about The Headless Horse. First she asks how it can know where it's going without a head, and Rainbow retorts it's headless, not brainless. Applejack then of course asks where it's brain is.
Fruit Cart: An overturned one blocks Scootaloo's path while she's scootering—she uses it as an impromptu ramp.
Funny Background Event: Rarity and Sweetie Belle unpacking while Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo discuss sharing a tent.
Dash's snoring on the second night sounds like a horse.
On the first night of their trip, Applejack says it's time to "hit the straw", instead of the usual expression "hit the hay". Straw is the traditional bedding for horses and ponies; hay is one of their staple foods. note In other episodes, Applejack herself has used the other expression; this is the first time the writers used a species-appropriate variant.
Heavy Sleeper: One has to wonder how no one is woken by Scootaloo's screams of terror except for Rainbow Dash and she was wearing earplugs. Thankfully, she wakes up in time to save Scootaloo from plunging off a waterfall despite said earplugs.
Rainbow Dash: I'm gonna tell you something, but if you ever tell anypony else... I'm gonna deny it.
Hoist By Her Own Petard: Sweetie Belle gets Rarity to go camping but has to carry her cart. However, she's extremely pleased to have Rarity along, regardless of the burden but it doesn't stop her from turning the reins to Scootaloo when she offers.
Hypocritical Humor: Rainbow Dash stresses to Scootaloo that she's fine with Scootaloo sleeping in her tent so long as she doesn't snore. Rainbow Dash then snores throughout the night. Justified, in that many people who snore don't realize it, unless someone else tells them. Since Rainbow Dash normally sleeps way up in the clouds (or in a tree), well out of earshot of the other characters, it could simply be that no one's ever told her she snores like a chainsaw.
Ignored Epiphany: A panic-stricken Scootaloo seems to be on the verge of realizing that a Headless Horse can't make the whinnying noises that frightened her (having no mouth) but gets caught up in a Distracting Disambiguation about whether the Headless Horse is an actual horse or a pony.
Musical cues during the scene where Rainbow Dash tells Scootaloo how scared she was as a filly, and during the scene at the waterfall, share a common melody to "No One Is Alone" from Sondheim's musical Into the Woods (itself having been used before as the influence for "At the Gala" from "The Best Night Ever", and "Art of the Dress" from "Suited for Success").
Rarity's tent is what many wizarding tents in Harry Potter are, but also on the outside.
Sleepscootering: While scouting ahead, Scootaloo dozes off on her scooter, harkening near danger several times but eventually landing safely in a bush a bit down the path.
Stylistic Suck: Sweetie Belle's campfire song, along with the backing music.
Scootaloo does this a lot. To a lesser extent, the other two CMC.
In one case, the surprise leads to Scootaloo doing a Ceiling Cling to a low-flying cloud.
Tastes Like Diabetes: Invoked, as Scootaloo tries to tell a story like this to keep Rainbow Dash from telling another scary one. (May or may not be a Take That to previous generations of My Little Pony.)