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22 January 2012

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. "The Last Round-Up" REVIEW

There are worldwide events that make you feel like you are witnessing something change: The Hiroshima Nuclear Strike; the death of a Dictator; a movie becoming the highest grossing film of all time. And then there are events that have no significance whatsoever that get a lot of attention because that’s what the public really cares for: A marriage between two celebrities; the re-release of an animated classic; or the death of a pulp writer. Today’s episode falls in the latter category, and the date 21st of January of 2012 will be remembered, not just by bronies, but by everyone who passed around the internet, as the day that fan content made its way into whatever it’s been based of. But I’m getting ahead of myself, and this whole review has a lot of editing in it already. So let’s go to what I’ve come here in the first: Reviewing the episode.

But first, like I always love doing because I know you don’t really want to go through the whole thing in one single sitting, allow me to give you my useful TL; DR. Is the episode goo-You know what? I am sick of putting it that way. Is this good in Friendship is Magic standards? Yes, it’s brilliant. Is this the best episode in Season 2? Nope, and if you hang around a bit more I will tell you why.

So the episode starts with Applejack doing some training behind her barn. She jumps over some fences, phases into The Matrix, and then throws a pack of hay as if she’s throwing a hammer in the Olympics. Applebloom cheers her up and wears her hat in an adorable fashion. Also, I must be the only one who has noticed her voice sounds strangely high pitched. I think this might be that the voice actress’ voice is changing, but I felt it slightly more screechy, if I may use that adjective. That’s not bad though, it’s just weird. As it turns out, Applejack is a really good athlete and she has an impressive collection of ribbons to show it. That’s awesome to see, as we learnt in episode 13 of Season 1 that Applejack is good at sports. She’s going to participate in a rodeo, which sounds really interesting and disappointing, since we never get to see any of it.

Cut to intro and then commercials. It was during this time before the episode resumed that somepony at Hasbro’s headquarters was sitting next to a button, covered in a transparent plastic casing, with the CEO behind him. The episode returns from commercials and this CEO orders to the guy: “Activate it.” And he did. And then the brains of every brony all over the World blew into smithereens. Okay, allow me to have a whole paragraph dedicated to Derpy Hooves before going back to the episode.

I'm taking over the review! Don't worry! I know how to stir a wheel!
As soon as Rainbow Dash said “Careful Derpy!” my jaw hit the table. It didn’t hit the floor, that’s exaggerating. It did hit the table. Really. My heart skipped a beat, my brain froze, and my jaw hit the fudging table. I was amazed they went as far as calling her Derpy in the show! I remember back in 2011 that the guys at Hasbro were unsure to call her Derpy, due to being politically correct and all that jazz. Thankfully, they realized this show can use a bit more edgy tone to it, and put in her fan nickname in. Besides, Derpy is not an insulting name, it’s cute, and adorable. Say it three times fast. Derpy! Derpy! Derpy! If you didn’t smile by the third time, you have problems. But then, she talked. And yeah, I have to admit folks it sounded a bit jarring. I was used to the voice the fans gave her, that of a blonde with no brains and high pitch tone, so hearing her with a rather tomboyish voice was quite odd for me. It’s not that she sounded like a klutz, which she is, but more that she sounded like Nelson Muntz from The Simpsons, or one of the characters from Ed, Edd and Eddy. However, this isn’t a bad thing. Derpy has a voice now! Think about what we accomplished here. This was a character who had wall eyes, in the background of episode 1, and was noticed by the community in 4chan because…well, that’s what we do in the internet, right? Then things started to grow. Origin stories were written. She was given a daughter. Fanart was drawn and invaded every art gallery to the point that there was more of her than of any other main character. Her popularity grew enough to grant her a cameo fourteen episodes later, with her titular wall eyes. More cameos followed. Then Season 2 started, and the cameos kept coming, this time more obvious. And now or dear Derpy, the one that was born in the bowels that brewed this fantastic fandom, talked to Rainbow Dash, and became the catalyst for the episode’s plot to start. This is freaking beautiful. This proved that the fanbase does matter, that we can have an input on that which we love and support. Sure, there are people against it, there are those who feel offended and betrayed because of a cartoon character, but this is the internet. Like the meme says, “Haters gonna hate”, to which I reply with another meme, “Ponies gonna Pown”. I am in the massive group of people who loved the cameo; which happens to be the same group of people who also find her voice adorable, even if she’s slightly over the top goofy. She is our pony. We should love her no matter what.

She was so happy she exploded three times.
So after, and during, those glorious two minutes, we are told that the Town Hall is falling to pieces. Whether it’s because the Town Hall is over a hundred years old, or that Derpy went all Doc Brown and took a few too many lightning bolts to the dome, it’s up for debate. However this causes the entire town to gather up and give Applejack a send off before she goes to the rodeo. Peer pressure has grown up around her, and the entire town is looking forward for her to win the first price, as all that money will do good to fix the building. Now, here is the part of the episode that I really despise, and it’s a big one. I’ve never been a fan of Mayor Mare, but I never truly hated her. She portrays what a politician is: A pencil pusher who has no idea how to react during a crisis. But this episode presents her as an utter money grabbing bitch. Yes I know, that’s how politicians really are, but it saddens me that I really want to punch her in her snout, and make her eat her glasses. Up to this point she was just useless, but here she’s despiteful. If anything, she’s the one that diminishes points from my final mental score of this episode. I guess however that this is the fault of Amy Keating Rogers, the writer for this episode. Keating Roger is a very good writer, and she does slapstick really well. She wrote some of the most memorable moments in the show, and her take on physical comedy is delightful. However, she’s not that good at writing characters. Don’t get me wrong, she’s really good at writing the Mane Six, but everyone else just escapes her grasp. That’s understandable, though I’m not going to hammer too much on it. Mayor Mare is really the only complain I have about this episode, but I hate her so much, I am so not voting her in the next elections!

I'm better than John McCaine! I can lift my front legs!
 So after Applejack leaves Ponyville, we fast forward to her welcoming party, and right before she steps inside we realize it’s not her at all. It’s a wonky mail pony who brings a telegram from Applejack saying she’s not coming back to Ponyville, and that she’ll be sending money soon. This sets the group of friends to go find her and get her back, as Big Macintosh cries the manliest of tears for his lost sister. The following segment is a rather interesting montage of the five friends looking for Applejack in Canterlot’s rodeo stadium. There’s no dialogue, just music and a lot of facial expressions and body language. It’s very interesting how well they tell that part of the episode without saying a single word, allowing the characters to express themselves through animation. They learn that AJ left Canterlot and went to another town lost in between Ponyville and Appleoosa. The ponies, confused as anyone else can be confused, find Applejack in a town, working in a cherry factory. It was around this time when I began to worry for the episode’s direction. I was chatting to my best friend and I told him, fear in my words: “This is going to be a two parter, I know it”. Having an Applejack episode next week, and knowing the plot to it, I was thinking this episode was going to link to the next one. Maybe Applejack lost at the rodeo and she bet the farm on it, so now she has to work her way to get it back. This was what my brain was going through during the last ten minutes of pony, as the jokes and the references kept coming. However, I was gladly wrong.

This is both heartbreaking and hilarious.
The five friends decide to get the information out of Applejack the only way possible: By pestering her. So they join the cherry factory and we are given that I Love Lucy reference that I would have never got in my life, if it wasn’t because the preview told me so. I never watched I Love Lucy, but for what I know is that it’s shot in black and white, it’s an old show, and it’s timeless high quality comedy. As soon as I saw this clip popping up in the preview I began to build an argumentation against those who don’t like to see everything get ponified. This clip alone validates this show’s versatility. When you can take such an old show as I Love Lucy and ponify it successfully, you can basically ponify anything in existence. This goes for show how good the design is: Simple yet flexible. So after the five friends splat Applejack into a body horror victim with cherry juice, they send their last resort to get the information out of her: Pinkie Pie. Her unbearable unstoppable motor mouth is put to good use as she pesters Applejack to the point of driving her nuts. She finally gives up, and promises-NO-Pinkie Promises (serious pony-business is serious) to tell them the truth by breakfast. So the next day the five friends go meet AJ to learn the truth, only to find out she left to the train station. This angers Pinkie Pie beyond anything we have seen in the show thus far. Her voice warps, her eyes catch fire, and she charges forward to get Applejack and make her pay. This starts a really cool and pretty interesting chase scene between two carriages a-la-BenHur, full of very thrilling parts. We have Pinkie Pie and Rarity falling off the carriage, lots of collisions, the irony of having a horse riding a horse-drawn carriage, and crossing a train track right in the nick of time. It was a lot of fun!

Even if a little terrifying.
The chase ends with Rainbow Dash pinning Applejack, and spilling the content of her saddlebags all over the place. It’s ribbons. Lots of ribbons of many different colors, and with many numbers, but none of them are 1st Place Ribbons. Applejack, in her Celestia-Tier stubbornness, couldn’t find the will power to go back to Ponyville and confront those who she failed, for not being able to get the prize money to fix the Town Hall, so she decided to take the job at the cherry factory. Her friends, rather than being angry at her, remind her that, well, they are her friends! It doesn’t matter if she comes in second, third or fiftieth, she’s still awesome! It doesn’t matter if she couldn’t get the money to fix the roof, there will be other ways to get it. She didn’t fail anyone; she doesn’t need to be forgiven by anyone, but herself. This is a very important lesson, and you can basically apply it to any situation imaginable. I myself have set many goals, and have tried to accomplish many deadlines and promises, and many times I failed at them. I felt terrible, and even though the other person wasn’t upset at me, I was angry and disappointed at myself. I totally felt AJ’s pain in this part of the episode, but in the end her friends are there to embrace her and weep in a comedic fashion. I loved Dash’s response to her crying. She couldn’t hold back the sappiness. The episode ends with Applejack coming back to town for her family’s relief, as we see Rarity and Pinkie Pie giving a good example of rule of funny.

"I wanted that cactus on my mane!"
So that was “The Last Round-Up”. How was it? Well, I said it’s not the best episode of Season 2, but it really feels close to it! There are many parts though that stirred a lot of blazing hatred in the fandom, and I don’t mean just that whole Derpy debate. I am going to address it though with this simple statement: Being insulted by a cartoon character is ridiculous. Now for those other parts, I saw quite a lot of people commenting on Applejack breaking her element, saying that she’s being dishonest. No, she isn’t. She just refuses to say why she is working in a cherry factory: she doesn’t want to talk about anything. She’ll be breaking her element if she’d say: “No, Ah did win the rodeo, Ahm just here to get sum money for the farm, that’s all”. Now, that’s lying. She’s not lying here, she’s just refusing to talk. Another thing I saw brought up is how Rainbow Dash leaves Pinkie Pie and Rarity behind. Well, guys, she is chasing after Applejack who is, not only the focus of this episode, but dealing with serious issues. Pinkie and Rarity will be fine. The last part of the episode that people complain about is why they left Rarity and Pinkie Pie behind. I have three words for you guys, and I already said them: Rule of funny. It’s hilarious to see Pinkie talking about “Cherry Changas” or “Chimi Cherries” while Rarity just groans and curses against Rainbow Dash. Also, as an excerpt, I doubt Pinkie Pie is making a Deadpool reference. No matter how much he likes Chimichangas, I doubt this is it. It would be cool though…

Now go there and give Applejack a lot of hugs. LOTS OF THEM!
 Overall, I really liked this episode. All the Derpiness aside, it was a really good Applejack centric episode with action scenes, funny slapstick and some obscure references. I am worried however by how they are portraying her character, as she still is that stubborn pony from episode 4, who refuses to let her friends in, but I think it’s better to be a stubborn pony than to be a silly pony. Don’t you guys agree?

- Defining Moment: I am going to put two, since this episode was as much about Applejack as it was about this fandom. In chronological order:

• Derpy’s two minutes cameo with speaking lines and slapstick humor. This moment will remain in the show forever.
• The cherry factory scene, which proves further how this show doesn’t need tireless modern, subculture references to be brilliant.

- Moral: I am also taking two morals out of this.

• If you can’t accomplish your goals, don’t be afraid about disappointing others. If they do care for you, and you tried your best at it, they will understand you and forgive you.
• When failing at doing something, the hardest thing you will have to do is to forgive yourself, but that doesn’t mean you have to be alone to do so.


  1. Good review, but on the subject of mayor mare I think that Amy Keating Rogers made mayor mare a stronger character. good characters are likable and hatable(imho), so your strong reaction against mayor mare might just be due to good writing. just a thought

    1. That's a very good point. I never said Amy Keating Rogers is bad (she wrote Bridle Gossip and A Dog and Pony Show, two of my favorite episodes), I just say her writing style involves making the authority figure a complete jerk, which is a pet peeve of mine. However, your point is excellent, and in the end Mayor Mare is one of the most memorable characters of this episode, next to AJ and Derpy. I remember more of her than I do of Twilight!

  2. Unfortunally this wasn't the episode that I needed to start loving AJ.

    I like her, but I need a "Sonic Ranboom" or a "Suited for sucess" to really LOVE her. Unfortunally I dont think next episode will be it. Looks like is justmore of Applejack being stubborn, and I really think that there's much more tho her then it.

    Unless Mitch Larson whrites it, then it will be best episode.

    And i'm sure that I made a few typos, sorry about that.

  3. I wanted Meghan to direct The Last Round-Up that I waited for since Christmas Eve.

    But it's just as touching to see Applejack have a breakdown again though.

    I don't care about Derpy and her only best quote was to cheer for Applejack.

    Applejack stole the show again and this episode was all wait worth.

    Such a shame The Hub did not show this episode twice.

  4. Derpy's voice actress thought Derpy was a guy.

    1. Yeah, I got the news after writing this >_> I usually write these a day after, so any news afterwards make them fairly out dated.