Cute episode, IMO; pretty straightforward, of course, but an enjoyable CMC episode. :)
I'm glad that Babs came around in the end, even though it took an act of god for the fillies to resolve their problems, in the form of the intervention of an adult, a higher power that gave the missing impulse when they couldn't set things right on their own.
Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are two characters that I think could benefit from having their personalities deepened and their backstories explored some more. I did like the fact that their internal power dynamic's been made clear again, though: Diamond Tiara is genuinely mean (whatever "genuinely" means; obviously there's gonna be reasons for it), but Silver Spoon is going along with it because she's under Diamond Tiara's thumb. Well, to an extent; there's obviously more to Silver Spoon than that, but she wouldn't be nearly as mean on her own, and she isn't beyond redemption, the same way that Babs wasn't. One wonders what happened before Silver Spoon got her cutie mark.
The Babs Seed song was pretty catchy, too, and I liked how it served a secondary purpose of summarizing events not shown; it added to the episode's story without making it longer, and thus helped fit the whole episode into its allocated 22 minutes. And it was well-written and well-executed as usual, of course.
One thing about Babs that really rubbed me the wrong way was her habit of blowing her fetlock out of her face. I don't know why, but I don't like it when people do that; it immediately makes me ill-disposed towards someone. She also seemed a little fake in her demeanor, even after joining the CMC in the end, adopting the same kind of posing and one-up-man-ship that is (stereotypically?) associated with kids from "the big city". All in all, even though she turned out to have had a history of bullying herself and even though she came around and made amends, I never came to like her as much as the CMC (the rest of 'em, that is); Applebloom, Sweetiebelle and Scootaloo are much more honest and unpretentious in their interactions and their attitude. Perhaps this was an intentional contrast to remind people that sincerity is a virtue to strive for, but if so, it wasn't worked out very strongly.
In the end, despite my feeling sympathetic towards her for being bullied, and despite her joining the CMC and standing up for her friends, I wasn't TOO sad to see her take the train back home; not quite as sad as I could've been.
Of the only adults that really had any role, Applejack and Pinkie Pie, I was happy enough with Applejack; she seemed in character, very much the big-sister-turned-ersatz-mother that she is for Applebloom. OTOH, I wasn't quite so happy with Pinkie Pie, since she was pretty much portrayed as just being silly again, both when she knocked Spike off the scent of stash of hot cakes, and later on in her float (or its remains). Yes, she IS silly, and that's fine, but it's not ALL she is. There's more to the Element of Laughter and being a clown than random whackiness: and I think a clown is what Pinkie really is, with all that that entails.
But maybe there'll be an episode that focusses on Pinkie Pie and develops her as a character again, too. The foundations for that have been laid in earlier episodes already, after all.
Back to this one — executive summary, yes, I liked it. :)
...emergency edible boots?
More next week, although I'm still not sure I'll make these MLP episode posts a regular feature. But as long as I'm gonna write something in broniesaremagic, I figure I might as well repost it here.
Also, ungulata and I further discussed the episode; he replied to my above comment, saying:
One fault with the writers is that they frequently ignore character growth that has gone on in previous episodes and instead fall back on the vary basic attributes of the characters. Thus, Pinkie Pie gets used as wacky comic relief.
I didn't really buy Babs' reform. Not after a week of making the Crusaders' life hell. I also don't buy that bullying creates bullies. Bullying creates social and resource acquisition advantages for the bully. It's a rewarded behaviour, like drugs or jogging, not something a bully is going to give up easily.
Dumping Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara in the mud went against the love and tolerance message of not bullying Babs.
And I replied in turn:
Very good points all around.
I'm not entirely sure about bullying not creating bullies; I consider bullying a form of abuse, and I tend to think that abuse is self-perpetrating behavior, with abusers having a higher-than-expected likelihood of having previously been abuse victims themselves. I don't think it's playing a particularly significant role when it comes to bullying, but I also don't think the notion of a bullying victim finding themselves in a new environment and seizing the opportunity to "switch sides" while she still can is altogether unbelievable.
I think that's what actually makes Babs' reform more credible, too; she really WAS a victim herself, and although she'd come to the dark side for a week, she wasn't so firmly entrenched in her behavior and attitude yet that she wouldn't (couldn't) give it up.
On the other hand, she only came around because the CMC still cared about her and saved her (from a trap they created themselves, granted, but I think that's actually largely irrelevant). I'm not sure THAT is so believable, since they'd cared about her all along right from the start; given the warm welcome and everything, I actually would've expected her to stick with the CMC right away — or to not change her mind and stay with Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon (is there a name for these two?) in the end after all, either interpreting her being saved as sucking up, as remorse, or just plain downplaying and ignoring it altogether and acting as if it didn't happen.
As for SSP and DT being dumped in the mud... yeah, that was perhaps not the show's greatest moment. I'm tempted to say "they deserved it", though, and while it's not really in line with a message of love, it is in line with a message of standing up for yourself and saying "no further than this" on occasion. Being a nice person is good and important, but sometimes, so is getting shirty. Opening a can of whoop-ass on someone who really deserves it is not bullying, as long as you don't keep on doing it after you've taken care of your own need for psychological hygiene and rid yourself of your rightful anger.
Were they deliberately dumped, BTW? I've only watched the episode once, but I seem to recall that Babs was merely walking towards them, and they walked backwards and eventually fell off the platform and into the mudpit that Babs, especially not being a local, probably didn't know was there. It didn't come across as deliberate subterfuge on Babs' part to me.
But anyhow, yes, I still think that this is actually a scene that shows that Babs didn't change so much, and it shows just the kind of attitude and behavior that I didn't like about her throughout the entire show. Bully or victim (or both), she still seemed fake and pretentious in her demeanor to me. What we saw of her was still a mask she was wearing to protect herself in the (presumably rather uncaring and, at times, cruel) society of Manehattan. As I said, I think there was a huge contrast to the sincerity of e.g. the CMC, who really wear their hearts on their sleeves, and I much prefer the latter.