Big Macintosh: But still only one pony, and one pony plus hundreds of apple trees just doesn't add up to...
Applejack: Don't you use your fancy mathematics to muddy the issue!
It's harvest time (a.k.a. "Applebuck Season") at Sweet Apple Acres. Unfortunately, Big Macintosh has injured his back, leaving Applejack as the only pony available to bring in the harvest. When Big Mac suggests that the job might be more than she can handle, she takes it as a challenge and vows to finish the job by herself... right after she saves the town of Ponyville from a stampede of panicked cattle.
The citizens of Ponyville organize a little celebration in honor of Applejack's heroism, and all the help she's given her friends and neighbors. After a week of apple-bucking all by her lonesome, however, the guest of honor runs a little late, and is clearly out of it by the time she does get there. A concerned Twilight Sparkle offers to help but Applejack is determined not to break her word and stubbornly refuses the suggestion that she can't do the job on her own.
Unfortunately, Twilight is right to be worried. As her friend struggles to keep her commitments and bring in the apple harvest, things quickly get out of hand. It starts with Applejack helping Rainbow Dash with her new stunt-flying routine by operating a catapult. After a number of false starts, she launches Rainbow Dash across town.
Later, Applejack tries to help Pinkie Pie make some muffins over at Sugar Cube Corner, the bakery where Pinkie works. At that point Applejack is half-deaf from kicking trees, seeing double and slowly going insane from sleep deprivation. As a result, she fouls up the recipe so badly that the baked goods turn out to be "baked bads". Thus a fair number of townsfolk come down with food poisoning...with the exception of Spike, who finds them delicious.
Finally, Applejack tries to help Fluttershy round up the newborn rabbits for the annual bunny census. Applejack's lack of sleep leaves her short-tempered and irritable and she scares them off in a fit of pique, leaving Ponyville overrun by panicking rabbits. Through all this, an increasingly frustrated Twilight tries to convince Applejack that she needs help:
Applejack remains stubborn as ever... up until she thinks she's finished, only for Big Macintosh to show up and point out that she's only harvested half the trees on the farm. At this point, her body has taken all the abuse it can and she collapses. Upon regaining consciousness, Applejack has finally learned her lesson about not being afraid to ask for help. Indeed she literally begs for her friends' assistance, and all the apples are harvested on time with their help.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: See Twilight's quote above, but made so much better by Tara Strong's rapid-fire delivery.
- Amusing Injuries: Applejack's repeated body-plants when she tries to launch Rainbow Dash into the air.
- An Aesop:
- Everyone needs help from time to time, and one shouldn't be too proud to ask for it if the work load is too much.
- Don't bite off more than you can chew.
- Animal Stampede:
- The episode opens with a herd of stampeding cows bearing down on Ponyville after being spooked by a snake, causing a mass panic among the townsponies until Applejack manages to divert the panicking cattle and drive the stampede away from the town.
- Later in the episode, Applejack's overly aggressive attempts to round up a group of rabbits send them into a stampede as well, resulting in a comical situation where characters are running and hiding in terror as a herd of bunnies stampedes through Ponyville.
- Artistic License:
- The laws of conservation of mass and momentum are not heeded in Applejack's final attempt to launch Rainbow Dash: at best, Dash would have been sent up roughly the same height as Applejack launched herself from, accounting for mass differences. This, of course, assumes that Applejack isn't made of dark matter.
- In Biology: real-life equines cannot throw up. If they ever got to the point where doing so would be beneficial, they could die because of it.
- Aside Glance:
- Twilight gives a quick one when Applejack and Pinkie Pie make faces in the trophy and another shortly after when Applejack falls asleep.
- Later, Twilight and Pinkie stare in the direction of the camera in bafflement after Applejack falls asleep on her hooves.
- Blunt "Yes": When discussing the apple orchard harvest.Applejack: I'll take a bite out of this job by day's end!
Big Macintosh: Biting off more than you can chew is just what I'm afraid of.
Applejack: Are you saying my mouth is making promises my legs can't keep?
Big Macintosh: Eeyup.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Applejack's misinterpretation of Pinkie Pie's basic muffin recipe, with both "cup of sour" and "wheat worms" serving as squick In-Universe.
- Break the Motivational Speaker: Twilight gets increasingly frustrated when her speech at Applejack's award ceremony keeps getting interrupted.
- Buffy Speak: Applejack's propensity for this gets worse when she's short on sleep.Applejack: Miss Mayor, thank you kindly for this here... award thingy.
- Call-Back: Twilight suggests asking the rest of the Apple clan (last seen in "Mare in the Moon") for help, only for Applejack to explain they were just in town for a family reunion, and are busy working their own farms.
- Characterization Marches On: In the Cold Open, Big Macintosh has a perfectly two-sided conversation with Applejack. By Season 2, his blunt delivery of "eeyup" had gone memetic, to the point that OOC Is Serious Business can be invoked by him saying anything else.
- Colour-Coded Emotions: In addition to her face turning green when she gets sick, the rest of Pinkie Pie turns the same muted shade of pink that she later develops in "Party of One."
- Creator Cameo: Episode director James Wootton cameos as Applejack's mule.
- A Day in the Limelight: The only episode in the first season centered on Applejack alone.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first scene of this episode is the most Big Macintosh has ever been seen spoken in one place. He would become The Quiet One later on — this is the only episode where he speaks multiple full sentences without invoking OOC Is Serious Business (until "Hard to Say Anything" in Season 7). Funnily enough, this also resulted in him commonly being depicted with a piece of straw in his mouth, despite this never happening again.
- Possibly justified with later episodes; many of the Apple family members note he's shy and doesn't talk much around others, and one episode shows Big Macintosh got in trouble for running his mouth when he was younger. When it's just him and Applejack, there's no reason to be shy and he's made sure he's talking sense.
- Exhausted Eye Bags: Applejack's exhaustion begins to show on her face as early as the award ceremony, and gets more obvious throughout the episode.
- Extreme Omnivore: Spike finds the "baked bads" perfectly edible. He even retrieves them from the trash. By comparison, Pinkie Pie, who has been set up as this in the first two episodes, is left sickened when she tries one and is grossed out to see Spike fishing them out of the trash to eat them.
- Face Palm: Twilight applies her hoof to her face as Applejack struggles offscreen to tip herself and her cart back over.
- Failed a Spot Check: Pinkie Pie is so excited about her upcoming bake sale that she doesn't notice the nasty-looking mess Applejack accidentally turned the muffin batter into.
- A few ponies faint during the rabbit stampede. The rabbits simply go around them.
- Applejack faints when Big Macintosh shows her the many apple trees left to harvest.
- Faux Horrific: The Ponyvillers are just as freaked out by stampeding rabbits as they are by stampeding cattle, even though the worst the rabbits do is mess up everyone's flower gardens. Lampshaded by Twilight, who outright says she doesn't see what all the fuss is about. While she does get upset after they explain, it's mainly because Applejack's stubborn refusal to accept help has resulted in yet another problem rather than finding it as horrific as everyone else.
- Furry Confusion: At the start of the episode, Applejack has to stop a stampeding herd of cows with real-life methods... then she starts casually talking to them about why they panicked (one of them saw a snake) and they promise to try and remember to not charge in the direction of Ponyville next time.
- Furry Reminder: AJ falls asleep standing up (horses are notorious for this) and neighs when snoring. Also, AJ's extreme fatigue despite her standing naps. Horses can sleep standing up, but if they really need rest, they still need to lie down for a few hours.
- Green Around the Gills: All the ponies that are sickened by Applejack's "baked bads".
- Hammerspace: Applejack's lasso appears out of nowhere between shots during the stampede.
- Heroic RRoD: The episode was Applejack bringing one on herself by working herself to exhaustion.
- Heroic Vow: Applejack's self-imposed pledge to bring in the harvest without help.
- I Ate WHAT?!: Subverted with Spike who enjoys the "baked bads" Applejack made.
- I Can't Hear You: Applejack's ears are left ringing after she hits her head on a low-hanging branch, with unfortunate-yet-hilarious results:Twilight: Applejack, can we talk?
[From Applejack's POV:]
Applejack: Can bees squawk? I don't think so!
Twilight: No, "can we talk?"
Applejack: Twenty stalks? Bean or celery?
Twilight: NO! I need to talk to you!
Applejack: Ya need to walk to the zoo? Well, who's stoppin' ya?
- As her sleep deprivation continues, she starts to mishear everything, leading to the muffin poisoning incident.
- I Gave My Word: The main conflict of the episode arises from Applejack's determination to keep all her promises, including bringing in the whole harvest, even if it's too much for her.
- Impairment Shot: Applejack's vision becomes blurry, and she has the eye-shaped blinky shot from her sleep deprivation. She also sees three Twilights.
- Inferiority Superiority Complex: Applejack's stubborn pride leads her to brush off any of Twilight's attempts to assist her, refusing to accept she is incapable of doing all her promised tasks by herself. Keeping in mind the huge deal the other ponies make about her reliability and talents early on, it's easy to see why she is so set on proving herself.
- The Insomniac: Applejack turns into a Goofy Insomniac from overwork.
- Lethal Chef: That's what happens when you try to make muffins using potato chips, soda pop, lemon juice, and earthworms.
- Lethally Stupid: Applejack mishears Pinkie Pie reading the ingredients for the muffins. Instead of Pinkie starting a fresh batch, she obliviously bakes them and causes a lot of ponies (including Pinkie herself) to get sick.
- Loud Gulp: Applejack does one after making her ill-thought promise.
- Mind Screw: What exactly is in a zoo in Equestria?
- Mind Screwdriver: Later episodes reveal there are non-sentient animals in Equestria. Cows and donkeys simply aren't part of them.
- Mondegreen: Applejack's extreme fatigue causes her to misunderstand every single one of Pinkie Pie's ingredients for the muffins, from "chocolate chips" to "wheat germ", as ingredients that wouldn't be part of any muffin recipe.
- Mouthscreen: The second time Twilight says "Applejack, can we talk?", the camera zooms in on her mouth as we hear it come out as muffled gibberish.
- Mythology Gag:
- Applejack's G1 namesake was a klutz (the whole "Who's a Silly Pony?" thing comes from a song on a read-along My Little Pony audiobook released in the UK). The sort of messing up that Applejack does here is exactly the sort of things she would have done.
- The nurse's name (All There in the Script) is Nurse Redheart. The G1 era has a trio of "nurse ponies" who are all called Nurse [Something]heart. Nurse Redheart in particular has Nurse Sweetheart's color scheme. note
- Nausea Fuel: In-Universe Example: The "Baked Bads" Pinkie Pie makes with the mixed-up ingredients causes a lot of ponies, including Pinkie herself, to get sick.
- Noodle Incident: How did Big Macintosh hurt himself anyway? We never got into that.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Rainbow Dash before Applejack finally launches her off the catapult.
- Applejack herself gets another one near the end, when Big Macintosh shows all the apple trees left to harvest.
- Pass the Popcorn: Pinkie Pie digs into a bag of popcorn facefirst as she watches Applejack herd the stampeding cattle away from Ponyville.
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: Lampshaded when Applejack has to explain "applebuck season" to Twilight.Twilight Sparkle: Apple-what season?
Applejack: It's what the Apple family calls harvestin' time.
- Pinkie Pie after Applejack messes up her muffins:Nurse: It was a mishap with some of the baked goods.
Pinkie: (weakly) No; not baked goods... baked bads!
- The Japanese dub replaces it with a play on keeki (cake) and higeiki (tragedy), as in "We ate the cakes, and tragedy struck."
- Pinkie Pie after Applejack messes up her muffins:
- Pun-Based Title: "Bucking" is a kicking action that horses use to throw would-be predators (and unwanted riders) off their backs, while "buck season" is the hunting season for male deer.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After being interrupted by Rainbow, Pinkie and Fluttershy, Twilight pauses and no one interrupts this time...then she notices the Mayor watching her patiently. Fed up, Twilight declares, "Never mind!", and stomps off, leaving the Mayor to do her speech in her place.
- Shown Their Work: When Applejack is heading off a stampede of cattle the methods she uses, from using a partner to box them in to roping the lead cow and pulling it aside to change the direction they were heading, are all textbook cowboy technique for controlling a herd of charging cattle.
- Similar Item Confusion: Applejack keeps confusing ingredients like potato chips instead of chocolate chips for the cupcakes due to sleep deprivation. What resulted was a town-wide food poisoning by "baked bads".
- Slapstick Knows No Gender: Applejack's injuries and discomforts are played for laughs.
- Smack on the Back: After reassuring Big Macintosh that she can handle the harvest all by herself, Applejack gives a friendly nudge to her brother, completely forgetting that he has injured his back. Big Mac winces and glares, and AJ says "Sorry."
- Squashed Flat: Happens to Applejack while trying to land on the other end of Rainbow Dash's catapult.
- Squick: In-Universe, all the ponies have this reaction to Spike fishing the "baked bads" out of the trash and eating them.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: Judging by their mutual reaction to their distorted reflections in the trophy, a sleep-deprived Applejack is about on par with a normal Pinkie Pie.
- Stubborn Mule: Twilight calls Applejack this... and then tells an actual mule no offense was meant.
- Teleport Spam: Twilight teleports to keep up with Applejack during their discussion and she does this to keep talking to her about the same subject, which AJ doesn't want to talk about. Spamming her with advice, if you will...
- This Is Gonna Suck: Right after she announces her intention to harvest the entire orchard by herself, Applejack looks out over the several dozen acres of trees and winces in discomfort.
- A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Hear Twilight's advice to take a rest before you cause a disaster, Applejack!
- Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer:Twilight Sparkle: Now Applejack; I completely respect the Apple family ways. You're always there to help any pony in need. So maybe you can put a little of your stubborn pride aside and allow your friends to help you.
Applejack: Okay, Twilight.
Twilight Sparkle: I am not taking no for an answer... what?
- Vomit Discretion Shot: Pinkie Pie puking into a bucket in the infirmary.
- You Are Not Alone: The aesop of the episode is "ask your friends for help."
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: When Applejack thinks she's finally finished the harvest, Big Mac points out the apple trees in the other half of the orchard, which still need harvesting. Applejack reacts about how you'd expect.