Applejack: Little sister, we're always good.
Circumstances take Big Macintosh, Applejack, and Granny Smith away from Sweet Apple Acres for a day — AJ and Big Mac are making pie deliveries to far-off towns, while Granny Smith is visiting Apple family relatives — so Apple Bloom has the care of the farm. The filly is ecstatic to be trusted to handle herself on her own, but Applejack can't stop worrying that something will go wrong. Apple Bloom manages to get all of her chores done with time to spare, but Applejack abruptly returns and catches her at the worst possible moment (dancing on a table). Apple Bloom loses her balance, and the resulting mess confirms all of Applejack's fearful suspicions. She abandons her pie delivery and remains home to look after her "helpless" little sister.
Applejack's overprotective behavior frustrates her little sister. Apple Bloom invites the other Cutie Mark Crusaders over and asks them to help her prove that she's capable of handling things on her own. A glance out the window reveals the pie cart Applejack was supposed to deliver, and the trio forms a plan: Apple Bloom will sneak out with the cart and make the delivery on her own while Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle pretend to be Apple Bloom to throw off Applejack. Sweetie Belle falls asleep in Apple Bloom's bed, while Scootaloo hides in the closet. When Applejack finally begins to realize that Apple Bloom is fine without her constant check-ins, and that that maybe she's been babying her little sister too much, Scootaloo happily cries out from the closet and exposes the ruse.
Applejack runs off to rescue her sister, knowing that the pie delivery route runs through a fire swamp inhabited by a hungry chimera. Meanwhile, Apple Bloom has been confronted by the chimera, who demands the pie cart. She refuses to surrender the pies, even after the chimera corners her. The three heads of the chimera argue over Apple Bloom, who can only wish that her sister were there. Just then, Applejack appears, subdues the chimera and gets Apple Bloom to safety.
Even though she is furious, Applejack can't help but be impressed that Apple Bloom got herself and the pie cart safely this far, and she finally admits that her little sister can look after herself. After completing the delivery, Applejack warns Apple Bloom that she'll most likely be grounded by Granny Smith once they get back, but she promises that next time the Apples need to leave the farm to Apple Bloom, she'll think of her little sister as much more capable.
- Adult Fear: Applejack's concern over her little sister's welfare takes a turn for the serious when the Chimera tries to prey on Apple Bloom.
- An Aesop: It's normal to want to look out for your younger siblings, but babying them and not letting them do things on their own will just end up pushing them away.
- All There in the Script: The Chimera is never referred to by name throughout the episode, only the credits.
- Anger Born of Worry: Applejack to Apple Bloom on trying to haul the cart by herself through the swamp and nearly getting eaten by a Chimera, though she admits she's impressed by the feat, foolhardy as it was.
- Artistic License Biology: Real snakes don't have ears and can only hear by sensing vibrations on the ground... which is why snakes are charmed through the motion of the flute rather than its sound. Applejack's flute is stock-still. Particularly stands out since earlier, the snake has a line that implies she can't hear.
- Ascended Meme: While socks have made appearances in earlier episodes, Applejack's "flameproof boots" are the first canon accessory to truly fit the fanart "ponies in socks" meme.
- Bait-and-Switch: When the CMC are eavesdropping on the adults' discussion, we are led to believe Apple Bloom is about to be punished or worse.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Applejack asks Applebloom if she wants a snack, a hoof massage, or a snack while having a hoof massage.
- Big Sister Instinct: Applejack goes overboard in keeping things safe for Apple Bloom, from baby-proofing the barn to checking up on her every five seconds.
- Big Damn Heroes: Applejack arriving just in time to save a cornered Apple Bloom from being eaten.
- Body Wipe: With Big Mac after shaking his head at the idea of Applejack checking on Apple Bloom again, then carrying on with his pie delivery.
- Chekhov's Gun: What the supposed Noodle Implements turn out to be: the flameproof boots are to protect her from the swamp's geysers of fire, while the lion tamer's chair, snake charming flute, and hunk of ricotta are used to fight the Chimera.
- Child Eater: The chimera. One of the few things the three heads can agree on is that Apple Bloom looks like she'd make a nice snack.
- Comically Missing the Point: Applejack constantly misinterprets Apple Bloom's attempts at proving she can take care of herself, to her continued frustration.
- Continuity Nod:
- "Applejack, I'm not a baby! I can take care of myself!"
- This isn't the first time Apple Bloom has lost a map.
- Smarty Pants is lying under Apple Bloom's bed. (What, did Big Mac abandon her?)
- Counting to Three: The chimera counts to three, one number for each head, just before attacking Apple Bloom.
- Crapsaccharine World: It's already established that some areas outside populated areas are rather deadly, but here we've got a swamp, with fire geysers and a hungry chimera, that a young filly can apparently just wander into.
- Applejack's efforts to baby-proof the Apple family home go so far as a haystack ramp in case Apple Bloom falls out her bedroom window. The haystack comes in handy when Apple Bloom decides to jump out the window to get away from her over-protective sister.
- The barn has a hats-and-bows closet that is full to bursting with duplicates of these items for both sisters. It very nearly turns into an Exploding Closet when Apple Bloom opens it to check the contents. She keeps a few more spare bows in her wardrobe as well.
- A Day in the Limelight: It's an Apple Bloom episode.
- Declaration of Personal Independence: When Applejack suddenly develops an overwhelming case of Big Sister Instinct, her little sister Apple Bloom rebels against it. She tries to deliver a cart of apple pies, to prove that she's capable of taking care of herself. But the delivery route winds up being more dangerous than Apple Bloom thought, and Applejack has to rescue her from a hungry chimera. At the end the two sisters come to a compromise: AB realizes she isn't quite as independent as she thought, and AJ admits that trying to coddle her sister was doing more harm than good.
- Department of Redundancy Department: As part of the Running Gag mentioned below, AJ keeps putting helmets on Apple Bloom, even when she's already wearing one.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: A child on the verge of puberty is thrilled to have the house to herself, only to have her guardian keep barging in on her. Especially noticeable in the scene where Applejack repeatedly opens the door to Apple Bloom's bedroom in quick succession, almost as if determined to catch her doing... something.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The swamp-dwelling ponies who receive the pie shipment are Cajuns.
- Faux Affably Evil: The Chimera; she (they?) acts pleasant and polite toward Applebloom even while telling her to her face that she's going to eat her.
- Hero of Another Story: Big Macintosh. According to Granny Smith, the route he's covering is just as dangerous as the fire swamp, but we don't get to see what makes his route so dangerous.
- Hoist by Their Own Petard: The Chimera gets hit with this several times; first the snake head unwittingly trips the chimera when chasing Apple Bloom around the monster's legs, then the snake head gets lodged between two tree branches and the saber teeth of the tiger head get stuck in the trunk of another tree, leaving it completely immobilized.
- Hypnotic Eyes: The Chimera's snake head makes these briefly when plotting to eat Apple Bloom, though she never utilizes them and Apple Bloom is unaffected.
- Implausible Deniability: When Applejack finds Scootaloo hiding in Apple Bloom's wardrobe.Applejack: Scootaloo?!
Scootaloo: Ah, um... n-no.
- Irony: Applejack worries on leaving her sister alone by herself just to do simple little chores. What finally convinces Applejack that she can? Apple Bloom going through a dangerous swamp to try and deliver pies.
- Limited Wardrobe: Applejack and Apple Bloom have closets full of trademark accessories. Then again, ponies don't normally wear clothes. The extra pink bows even prove helpful later when Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle need to impersonate Apple Bloom.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: The Chimera is described as a combination of a lion (here it's a tiger), a snake, and a goat by classic Greek mythology. For bonus points, she's also female and lacks wings. Loses points for placing the goat head by the tiger head rather than on the back. Actually somewhat odd given that this chimera has the rear legs of a goat, meaning that placing the goat head on the back would actually make more sense.
- Multiple Head Case: The Chimera has three; a tiger, a goat and a snake's. They can't ever agree on what to eat (besides pies* ) and the goat and tiger head bicker about who's in charge.
- Mundane Solution: When faced with the angry goat head after defeating the tiger and the snake head, Applejack defeats it by bribing it with some Ricotta cheese.
- Musicalis Interruptus: Apple Bloom is about to launch into song, but Scootaloo tells her there's no time when they hear Applejack returning.
- My Beloved Smother: Only with a sister instead of a mom. Applejack is so concerned about Apple Bloom's safety that she hangs over her shoulder at every opportunity to keep her from hurting herself, even when it comes to things that should be obvious. For instance, she laments that she might not have left her long list of safety tips long enough, as she realized she didn't tell Apple Bloom that if she wanted to get a spoon to eat her soup with, she had to open the spoon drawer first.
- Mythology Gag:
- When fretting over whether Apple Bloom is old enough to take care of herself, Applejack muses "I'm probably just being silly".
- Most likely unintentional, but the goat head of the chimera seems to have a passing resemblance to Grogar.
- Never My Fault: Applejack doesn't stop to consider that the disaster that she walked in on was because she startled Apple Bloom into, when Apple Bloom had already successfully (and safely!) done all of the chores that she'd left her to do.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Applejack would have officially stopped worrying so much about her sister if it weren't for Scootaloo and her big mouth!
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: One of the cajun ponies looks like a spitting image of Bruce Mitchell from Swamp People.
- Noodle Implements: Averted. Applejack runs down a list of some seemingly random objects that Apple Bloom didn't take with her (fire-proof boots, a lion tamer's chair, a snake-charmer's flute, and a block of ricotta cheese) and doesn't go into why these objects are important. However later in the episode they do indeed come in handy, for the most part in the most obvious way (Walking over fire, and defeating a snake and a lion. The only one that isn't immediately obvious is the ricotta cheese, which is used to distract the goat head).
- Not Helping Your Case: After being tripped up by Applejack's sudden arrival, Apple Bloom tries to show she can take care of herself. However, the mess caused by Applejack's arrival interferes, only making her seem that much more incapable.
- Obsessed Are The List Makers: Applejack gives Apple Bloom a list of chores plus several instructions to do stuff as simple as eating a home meal, such as telling her that if she wants a spoon to eat the soup with she has to open the drawer first.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Apple Bloom's expression when Applejack declares she's never gonna leave her alone again.
- Later, Applejack when realizes her little sister went to the fire swamp alone. And an even bigger one after that when Scoots and Sweetie admit she went in unprepared for a Chimera attack.
- On Three: Done by the chimera prior to attacking Apple Bloom in the forest.
- Plot Parallel: As the Chimera corners Apple Bloom, the tiger and goat heads have dialogue that suspiciously call to the main plot of Applejack's over-parenting of Apple Bloom.Tiger Head: You're lucky, you know? You've got no idea what it's like to have a sister constantly looking over your shoulder!
Apple Bloom: Actually...
- Properly Paranoid: Played with. Applejack is wrong about overprotecting Apple Bloom at the farm, but she's definitely right to be scared for her safety when knowing she's going to the fire swamp. Plus, AJ knows exactly what measures to take in case of a Chimera's attack.
- Ragin' Cajun: The Apple Family's customers.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Chimera's tail is a living snake.
- Running Gag: Every time Applejack finishes child-proofing the area Apple Bloom is in, Applejack puts a helmet on Apple Bloom's head. She even puts a second helmet on top of the one Apple Bloom is already wearing.
- Safety Worst: Applejack goes crazy in her efforts to protect Apple Bloom, constantly hovering over her little sister and child-proofing the farm.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: If Applejack hadn't barged in and startled Apple Bloom when she was dancing on the table, the accident that convinced AJ her little sister needed to be constantly supervised wouldn't have happened.
- Apple Bloom is in a swamp with flame geysers.
- The snake head's eyes briefly span multiple colors, like Kaa from The Jungle Book (1967).
- One of the cajun swamp ponies does a dance similar to 5's dance from A Charlie Brown Christmas.
- And another pony (the one wearing overalls and a red bandana) bears an uncanny resemblance to Bruce Mitchell from Swamp People.
- In the beginning, When Applebloom is jumping for joy at the idea of being home alone, she does Macaulay Culkin's scream face from Home Alone.
- The way the snake head wraps around the legs of the chimera and trips it is reminiscent of how the Rebels trip up the Imperial walkers in The Empire Strikes Back.
- Shown Their Work:
- With the exception of having a tigress' head and not breathing fire (the fire-spewing swamp makes up for that), the Chimera is fairly accurate to the original mythological version, right down to being female, although the placement of the goat head is still flubbed (seemingly for the sake of a joke).
- The snake head of the Chimera asks her sisters to speak up because she can't hear them very well. Real snakes don't have ears and can only hear by sensing vibrations on the ground...
- Somewhere, a Herpetologist Is Crying: After the snake head is put to sleep by Applejack's flute, it can be seen with its eyes closed. Snakes lack eyelids and cannot blink of course.
- Somewhere, an Equestrian Is Crying: Applejack's nose should be able to tell her that that's not Apple Bloom.
- Sssssnake Talk: The snake's head, of course.
- Interestingly it also has a stutter which contributes to it.
- Stealth Pun: The goat's head is stopped with a bit of ricotta cheese. Certain types of ricotta are made using goat's milk.
- Swamps Are Evil: Complete with flame-spewing geysers and hungry Chimera. Subverted in the final scene when AJ and Apple Bloom deliver their pies to a friendly bunch of ponies living on a more peaceful stretch of swampland.
- That Reminds Me of a Song: Defied.Apple Bloom: I got a feeling this just might work! (music rises)
We're gonna make my sister see
I don't need her watching over me...
Scootaloo: STOP! No time for a song! Applejack's coming!
- Titled After the Song: The title is a reference to the classic Gershwin song, "Someone to Watch Over Me".
- Visual Pun: Instead of putting the goat's head on the chimera on the back where it's supposed to be its on her shoulder, so she is always literally looking over the Tigress' shoulder in addition to doing so metaphorically.
- Vocal Dissonance: While all three heads of the Chimera are sisters, the tiger head is much deeper and more masculine than the others. This was due to the Chimera's voice actress' recordings for the tiger head being lowered in pitch during the episode's editing process.
- Wheel o' Feet: Apple Bloom does this briefly when trying to flee the Chimera.
- Wild Wilderness: The Fire Swamp.