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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S5 E18 "Brotherhooves Social"

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"That's Big Mac in a dress."
Sweetie Belle

Written by Dave Polsky

Applejack and Apple Bloom are preparing for the upcoming Sisterhooves Social event, with Apple Bloom extolling Applejack's better qualities, confident that they're going to win blue ribbons. Unbeknownst to Apple Bloom, Big Macintosh is watching from the barn, upset over not getting as much time with his little sister. As Granny Smith searches for a blue ribbon from a previous Sisterhooves Social, she comes across a dragonfly toy that Big Mac used to use to impress Apple Bloom. He brings it outside to show her, but is brushed off in favor of Applejack. Big Mac sadly sulks off to the barn when Applejack's cutie mark begins to glow, being summoned by the Crystal Map in Twilight's castle.

Upon returning, Applejack informs her family that she's been summoned to Manehattan, and will be missing the Sisterhooves Social. Apple Bloom falls into a slump, upset that she and Applejack won't get to participate this year. Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo drop by, inviting Apple Bloom to cheer on Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash, who are participating in the Social. Apple Bloom agrees, with Granny Smith wondering how to cheer her up. This gives Big Mac an idea: he'll dress up as Apple Bloom's cousin, Orchard Blossom, and participate in the Sisterhooves Social with her.

Despite everypony seeing through Big Mac's disguise immediately, he's allowed to compete with Apple Bloom as Orchard Blossom. Unfortunately, because he had no time to prepare, every routine Big Mac and Apple Bloom try inevitably fails. Finally, the last event is the obstacle course race, which Big Mac is determined to win. He rushes through the course with Apple Bloom, smashing through the obstacles instead of climbing over them, and bucking other teams out of the way to cross the finish line first. After managing to pass Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo, Big Mac and Apple Bloom cross the finish line first, his disguise falling off as he celebrates. However, because of all of Big Mac's destructive behavior, as well as unsportsmanlike conduct in the race, he and Apple Bloom are disqualified.

Back at Sweet Apple Acres, Apple Bloom attempts to console Big Mac, who isn't having any of it. Finally, he opens up that, with Apple Bloom always looking up to Applejack for saving Equestria and going off on adventures, he feels rather left out just doing chores on the farm, and that if he got a blue ribbon for Apple Bloom, then he'd be somepony she could look up to again. Apple Bloom embraces Big Mac, telling him that he's still a hero to her. Granny Smith calls the two of them down to the barn, but Apple Bloom says they'll be a minute, as she wants to spend some quality time with her big brother.


  • Achievements in Ignorance: Granny Smith has the hardest time finding that blue ribbon from the first Sisterhooves Social. She finally finds it by using yet another box as a step stool and falling into it.
  • All for Nothing: With the Social's loose rules on what qualifies as a sister, as Granny Smith pointed out earlier in the episode, Big Mac's disguise wasn't even necessary, plus the fact that nopony (except for one elderly male judge) was fooled by it.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: The one judge who's fooled by Big Macintosh's disguise seems to find his "Orchard Blossom" persona attractive, flirting with her and trying to bring her flowers after the competition.
  • Bait-and-Switch: You think Big Mac is going to be disqualified after the race is over and his disguise comes off... and he is, but not because he's a stallion. In his determination to win the race for Apple Bloom, he knocked everyone else out of the way, and unsportsmanlike conduct is not tolerated at the Sisterhooves Social.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Zig-zagged. Despite winning the last event, Big Mac and Apple Bloom are disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct, preventing Big Mac from getting the blue ribbon for her. However, at the end of the day, the two siblings talk it out with Apple Bloom reassuring Big Mac he'll be a hero to her regardless of a ribbon and they both decide to spend some time together before going to hear about Applejack's visit to Manehattan.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: When Sweetie Belle calls out "Orchard Blossom" as Big Mac in a dress, "she" responds with "Why, as... charmed as I am that you find me in the slightest resemblance to such a... uh, fine and noble product of the Apple clan, I am astonished in equal measure."
  • Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: Apple Bloom uses the straightforward "I have to go to the bathroom", giving Orchard Blossom an opportunity to say that "powder your muzzle" is a more ladylike expression.
  • Cape Snag: Orchard Blossom gets tripped up by her dress and heels during the juggling competition.
  • Captain Obvious: Sweetie Belle dryly comments "that's Big Mac in a dress" after seeing his Incredibly Conspicuous Drag.
  • Cerebus Retcon:
    • This episode serves as such for the Mane Six's heroics, particularly Applejack's. Sure, she's renowned and beloved by her family for her series-wide accomplishments (which include saving Equestria on a semi-regular basis), but she ends up inadvertently casting a shadow over her older brother Big Mac, who has developed a pretty serious inferiority complex.
    • It is also one towards the Sisterhooves Social as well. Due to how it's marketed towards female sibling duos, sibling teams with brothers are given the impression that they are not allowed to compete, effectively turning it into a gender-exclusive activity.
  • Chubby Chaser: The one judge fooled by Big Mac's disguise is clearly smitten with "Orchard Blossom" when he thinks she is a heavyset mare and not a stallion in a dress.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Big Mac does a pretty good job during the singing competition. He was in the Ponytones, after all. If not for his voice dropping an octave at the end, they might have won that competition.
    • Later on, when Big Mac calls out Apple Bloom's name, the filly looks at him with a slight bit of trepidation and concern. Which makes sense, considering what happened the last time he directly spoke to her.
    • A judge says that "the Sisterhooves Social has always had a loose policy of what counts as a sister", a rule that came up the previous time that the Sisterhooves Social was used in an episode.
    • Coincidentally, Big Mac wears carrots for teeth and lettuce for eyebrows the same way human Pinkie Pie did in Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks.
  • Contrived Coincidence: It's rather convenient that Applejack and Rarity are summoned to solve a Friendship Problem in Manehattan and forced to miss the Sisterhooves Social right at the same time that Big Macintosh is feeling stuck in Applejack's shadow as the apple of Apple Bloom's eye. Then again, perhaps it is deliberate since it provided an opportunity Applejack to fix a friendship issue by her absence.
  • Cool Big Sis:
    • Apple Bloom thinks Applejack is one, as usual. The first scene has her gushing over how awesome her big sister is after they practice for the Sisterhooves Social.
    • Rainbow Dash acts as this to Scootaloo, even participating in the Social with her even though they're not technically related. They have the spirit of sisterhood and that's what counts. Rainbow Dash spent the last week practicing with Scootaloo.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: When the judges disqualify Big Mac, they tell him he could have just asked to participate in the Social rather than dress up as a mare, pretend to be Apple Bloom's cousin and give himself a feminine name.
  • Cringe Comedy: Seeing Big Mac try to keep up his charade as "Orchard Blossom" borders on this. Especially when it's revealed he could have competed without the disguise from the start, since a judge says that "the Sisterhooves Social has always had a loose policy of what counts as a sister".
  • Cross-Referenced Titles: To "Sisterhooves Social".
  • Curse of The Ancients: Granny Smith says "oh, snickerdoodle!" when she has trouble finding the blue ribbon from the first Sisterhooves Social.
  • A Day in the Limelight: After four and a half seasons of playing second fiddle, Big Macintosh finally shares the center of attention with his youngest sister.
  • Disqualification-Induced Victory: Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo end up winning the obstacle course when Big Mac's plowing through the obstacle course with no regard for the other competitors gets him and Apple Bloom disqualified.
  • Deconstruction: Of The Quiet One as a running gag. Part of the "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot happens because Big Mac doesn't say a word outside of his characteristic "eeyup" and "nope"; things could have been stopped a whole lot earlier had Big Macintosh bothered to actually voice his melancholy to Apple Bloom.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: While typical for Big Mac, Orchard Blossom wrecks most of the things she touches.
  • Everybody Knew Already: As part of Big Mac's Paper-Thin Disguise, no pony is taken by his Orchard Blossom get up (save for the elder male judge); the lead judge even states this before disqualifying him.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: The episode ends with Big Mac and Apple Bloom laughing after he does his Orchard Blossom voice again.
  • Fan Disservice: Big Mac wearing a dress and bloomers. 'Nuff said.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: This is Big Mac's strategy in his desperation to win the final race. It gets him and Apple Bloom disqualified for poor sportsmanship.
  • Gilligan Cut: Applejack says that being summoned to the castle may be a false alarm, giving Apple Bloom a Hope Spot. Cue the next cut having Apple Bloom trying to bar her sister after the false alarm assumption falls through.
  • Head Desk: A despondent Apple Bloom slams her face against the table as she thinks she can't participate in the Sisterhooves Social.
  • High Heel Hurt: While Big Mac is a very good athlete, he notes himself that being a good athlete in high heels is a whole other thing.
  • Hope Spot: When the ruse is revealed and Apple Bloom says that means they're busted, the main judge quickly points out to her that they knew all along, and didn't actually have a problem with that. This causes Apple Bloom and Big Mac to smile, thinking they still won, but then the judge points out that they do have a problem with his poor sportmanship he displayed during the race.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Big Macintosh laments at the end of the episode that Applejack's heroism makes him feel unimportant, and he was desperate to help Apple Bloom win a blue ribbon at the Sisterhooves Social because he wanted Apple Bloom to look up to him again, even if it was for just one day.
  • Incredibly Conspicuous Drag: Big Mac pretends to be Apple Bloom's female cousin Orchard Blossom to enter the Sisterhooves Social event with her. Unlike most examples, only one pony falls for it. The judges for the event only let Big Mac stay on because "the Sisterhooves Social has always had a loose policy of what counts as a sister", and that Big Mac is clearly humiliating himself for Apple Bloom's sake.
  • Innocently Insensitive:
    • Apple Bloom has been hanging out with Applejack so much lately and talking about how awesome it is that her big sis is a hero who helps save Equestria all the time that Big Mac feels left out.
    • When Big Mac pulls out the flying dragonfly toy to show to Apple Bloom, she dismisses it as an odd remembrance of their past. Applejack realizes that Big Mac is trying to reconnect with his youngest sister.
  • Jaw Drop: The CMC have this reaction when they see Big Mac impersonating a mare.
  • Love at First Sight: The elderly judge appears to fall in love upon seeing Orchard Blossom. He's left heartbroken after missing the race and seeing the remains of the Orchard Blossom dress scattered about. He keeps a lock of her hair.
  • Meaningful Echo: Shortly after Applejack left, Granny Smith says "They've always had a loose definition of the term 'sister'," with regards to Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash competing in the Social. The head judge repeats this term word for word at the end, pointing out that Big Mac could have competed as himself instead of dressing up.
  • Mood Whiplash: The episode goes from serious and heartfelt development for Big Mac and his relationship with Apple Bloom, to Cringe Comedy, and back again.
  • Mythology Gag: Sort of. This time it's Applejack's brother who's the silly pony.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Apple Bloom and "Orchard Blossom" win the race but Big Mac's brutishness in shoving Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo out of the way nearing the finish line gets them kicked out of the competition.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Brothers and close friends are allowed to participate in the Sisterhooves Social so long as they have the "spirit of sisterhood".
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Played with; when the usually monosyllabic Big Mac is extremely verbose when in character as Orchard Blossom, not much is made of it. The trope is invoked later on, long after the charade has broken, when he pours out his heart to Apple Bloom about why he did what he did.
    • Big Mac also is an uncharacteristically poor sportsman in desperation of winning a blue ribbon for his sister so she'll look up to him again.
  • Old-Fashioned Fruit Stomping: Applejack, along with Rarity, wouldn't be available for the Sisterhooves Social due to a Friendship Mission, and Big Macintosh becomes a substitute, and thinking that the event was only for mares, disguises himself as "Orchard Blossom". At the grape stomping event, Apple Bloom climbs over the vat, and Big Mac, wanting to be in the lead, jumps over and squashes the entire vat, spilling grape juice over many jars, and Apple Bloom drips over in one.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Orchard Blossom occasionally slips back from her falsetto into Big Mac's baritone.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: As Big Mac himself states, while Applejack is constantly going on adventures and being a hero of the Apple family, all he gets to do is farmwork and chores.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Sweetie Belle comments on whether or not everypony can tell if "Orchard Blossom" is Big Mac in drag. It turns out the ponies in charge of the Sisterhooves Social knew it was him all along. However, an elderly stallion does fall for it, even after Big Mac is outed. Sweetie Belle outright says "That's Big Mac in a dress." Rainbow also obviously recognizes him immediately, and while she doesn't out him to anyone else that can hear, she turns up the snark and says she isn't going to take it easy on him just because he's a stallion.
  • The Quiet One: Zigzagged. As Big Mac, he keeps to his usual two-word dialogue, even if each word conveys much meaning in them. When Applejack gets him to open up about what's bothering him, he takes a deep breath... only to be interrupted by Applejack's cutie mark glowing. (He's been through similar circumstances before too.) Once he dresses up as Orchard Blossom, he speaks quite a bit, displaying depth in to his character. At the end, Big Mac almost goes back to his default mode, but after a bit of prodding, gives a long explanation of his motives to Apple Bloom.
  • Second Place Is for Winners: Big Macintosh's gung-ho approach to getting the blue ribbon for Apple Bloom disqualifies him for unsportsmanlike conduct. This causes Apple Bloom to approach him about why he dressed up as a mare to enter, allowing them to clear the air and repair their relationship.
  • Sequel Episode: To "Sisterhooves Social".
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: "Orchard Blossom" speaks in drawn-out sentences littered with fancy words, a complete contrast to Big Mac's usual "eeyup/nope" routine.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Big Mac's dragonfly toy resembles a Sky Dancer, a toy distributed under the Galoob brand, which is currently owned by Hasbro.note 
    • "Orchard Blossom" may be a reference to Jethrine Bodine, the sister of Jethro Bodine on The Beverly Hillbillies, who was played by Jethro's actor Max Baer Jr. in drag and who Orchard Blossom resembles.
  • Show, Don't Tell: The episode does not actually state that Big Mac is jealous of how Apple Bloom has come to adore Applejack, instead dropping visual clues and lines that make this clear. Then it's subverted in the very end where he then has to explain his jealousy to Apple Bloom.
  • Southern Belle: Big Mac's "Orchard Blossom" persona speaks in a southern accent distinct from Apple Jack's more Farm Girl accent, wears a wig of sausage curls, and acts dainty.
  • The Stoic: Big Mac shows this even more than usual, refusing to say what was bothering him when his sisters asked him what was wrong. Even when he does eventually share, he tries to shut himself off and push Apple Bloom away.
  • Stuck in Their Shadow: In-Universe, Big Mac feels this way about Apple Bloom's relationship with Applejack because his little sister is the family hero and he's just the chore boy.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Big Mac always had a voice actor (Peter New) but in almost every case his entire vocabulary consists of "Yep" and "Nope". He gets more dialogue in this episode than through four seasons worth of content put together (though a lot of it is in a fake voice, he still gets a fairly decent monologue as the episode ends in his natural voice).
  • Synchronous Episodes: With "Made In Manehattan", with both episodes taking place at the same time. This episode shows what goes on in Ponyville while Rarity and Applejack are away in Manehattan, and the reason that Applejack can't compete with Apple Bloom in the Sisterhooves Social is because she's been called away.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Apple Bloom has this expression for a fleeting moment while mashing grapes, just as she notices the shadow of Big Mac about to crash in the barrel.
  • Uncanny Valley Makeup: Big Mac puts on some over-the-top makeup while disguised as "Orchard Blossom".
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Big Mac pulls the record they want to use for the song competition out from what is effectively the bosom of the dress he's wearing.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: Big Mac's "Orchard Blossom" disguise progressively shows more wear and tear as he's barreling his way through the obstacle course, to finally falls off completely in one go after they cross the finish line.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never see or hear any more from Sweetie Belle once the competitions of the Sisterhooves Social begin in earnest.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Big Mac wears a dress, wig and heels to (badly) look like Apple Bloom's female cousin.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Big Mac as "Orchard Blossom" is a dress, sausage curls and a cringe-worthy feminine accent. Played with in that nopony actually falls for it except for one judge.