I was going to have my assistant write the TL; DR for me, but he ran away with my fridge and my Xbox, and it’s very likely he will never return. He left a note though: Dear James, this episode wasn’t as good as the rest of the other episodes we have had this season, but it still has good things to it. PS: I am taking your copy of “Hitman Absolution”.
So the episode starts at Twilight’s library, where we discover what she has been doing these past few episodes after fighting Trixie and being pretty much absent. Apparently she’s still working for Princess Celestia, obviously, and she is yet to face one of the most arduous tasks ever. She has to read twelve books in a weekend! Now, I might make fun, but if you were a slow reader like me you’ll understand how admirable of a task this is. It’s taking me months to read through “Dante’s Inferno” and that book is small compared to the ones Twilight has to read. With her weekend settled, Twilight gives Spike the rest of the day off, which he promptly uses to catch up on all the things he’s been wanting to do, like play bongos with his tummy or smell his feet. Wow, what a pretty humble (and bizarre) fellow Spike is, isn’t he? He really doesn’t demand much out of life, I guess being a glorified fax machine has its advantages and disadvantages. I love how he too uses a checklist, like Twilight does, which proves he’s been influenced by the adorkable little unicorn. With pretty much nothing else to do for the rest of the day, Spike decides to take a balloon ride, but apparently he’s been taking lessons from both Mr. Bean and Derpy, and as he approaches the balloon he manages to untie it and let it fly away. As he chases it he manages to trample and crash onto almost everypony until he finally catches the rope and ties the balloon to a tree branch. That would be great, if it wasn’t because he tied the rope in the Everfree Forest.
|And the rope is tied to an Ent. And the Ent was passing a kidney stone and so very angry.|
|"What did you say about weeping willows? Our mom was a weeping willow!"|
|Besides that broom hanging from the ceiling, although you can call it modern art.|
|And she will also fall in love with the Captain of the Wonderbolts, and together they will defeat Nightmare Moon and Discord, who are also in love with each other.|
|This has me rolling on the floor everytime|
|Hold on, hold on, I think I feel it moving to the larynx|
So that was “Spike at your Service”, and if I have to describe this episode with a sentence that would be, all over the place. I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it, I didn’t think it was meh, it just had a lot of good and bad moments mixed together and a very unbalanced structure. I will begin with what I liked, like always, so I can focus on the bad things later, but it’s going to be difficult not to drift onto the bad.
I really liked the dialogue and the character interactions in this episode, especially when it involves the Mane six. I know I have said over and over, but I want to point this out when I consider the writers for this episode. If you have followed me from the very beginning you will know how I am not the biggest fan of both Dave Polsky and Merriwether Williams, and how many times I said that they seem to have problems getting the personalities of the Mane six down. So when I saw their names in the writing credits I pretty much face palmed expecting a complete wreck. I am happy to say that in this episode I didn’t feel that. Everyone seemed to be themselves, and whenever they were together in the screen it was some of the most memorable moments, especially when they were planning to deceive Spike with their ultimate plan. I will go as far as saying that this is Williams’ best work when it comes to writing the characters, but then again don’t take my opinion into account and I am serious about this. I am one of the few people who liked “The Mysterious Mare-do-Well”, while I considered the rest of Williams’ writing to be unnecessary mean and not very well polished or executed. This one seemed to have a more natural pace to it, except for a problem that I will bring when I reach to the parts that I didn’t like of this episode. I know this is going to make me sound like the broken record that I am, but I think Rarity stole the spotlight in this episode. She nails the delivery right in the head. Her dramatic acting lessons, the way she hams it up, how she gloats about how good of an actress she is, it was all hilarious and very well executed. Pinkie Pie also stole the spotlight here, with both her random plan and the fake moustache. How can you make a pony better? Put a moustache on it. And of course, while we are still discussing characters, I also really liked Applejack. Her faces, her terrible acting, the ways she goes to try and shake Spike off of her are just perfect. I have a story with AJ, which I will tell you all who have been following me, in case you didn’t know. When I was watching the show for the first time, she was my favourite pony. I liked how rough she was, how strong and confident she was, and then as seasons 1 and 2 rolled I started to like her less, and less, because the other characters were given more traits, while AJ stayed in the same stage as before, and her personality traits were never enhanced or at least never put in contrast with the rest. However, since the start of season 3, she has been climbing spots on my list higher and higher. She has had more character development during the last nine episodes than during all of season 2, and considering how much we saw of her during season 2 that should tell you something about how the show runners are approaching her character. So for what it is, I really liked her in this episode, and we can see her now as a sort of guardian of her friends, brave and bold who doesn’t stutter when she has to fire a rock at a Timberwolf with her hooves.
|Yer making me blush sugarcube.|
|It didn’t work for me pal!|
It seems like this review is all over the place, and maybe it is, but that’s exactly how I feel about the episode. It’s all over the place. The characters are great and they nailed each and every one of them, except Spike, so I can’t say that the characters are all perfectly portrayed. The tone is consistent and the moral is good, but the story feels alien and the pacing is very uneven, so I can’t give a perfect score in my book to that either. There are many jokes in this episode, and some of them are very funny (like Pinkie with the moustache, and Rarity eating the rotten pie) but others are flat and just feel forced (like anything involving Spike’s incompetence, or Twilight not paying attention to him when reading books). There are very powerful moments, like when Spike realizes AJ has saved his life, but there are also flat moments like when Spike says goodbye to Twilight. The moment when Applejack got her hoof trapped under the rocks was very engaging, but when Spike threw a rock at the Timberwolf and choked it to death was funnier than epic. And that’s pretty much what I feel towards the episode. It’s a constant mood whiplash. I go from “this moment is great” to “this moment is lame” in the bat on an eye, and that throws me off completely. So in the end the good and funny moments are very good and very funny, and the bad and lame moments are really bad and really lame. It’s a mixed bag, and in my opinion is way too balanced to say if the episode is good or bad in an objective way. In my own opinion, as annoying as the bad moments were they were not deal breakers for me, so the good moments compensated for it. I liked Applejack, I liked the character interactions, and I liked Rarity and Pinkie Pie. That’s the good I take from this episode.
Overall, it’s not the worst episode of the show but it walks that fine line between bad and good in a very wobbly way, and it ends up falling into neither the good side nor the bad side. If you are an Applejack fan, or want to make people like Applejack, watch it. If you like Rarity then you definitely must watch it, especially for her thespian acting. If you want more Pinkie Pie randomness give it a watch. And if you want people to hate Spike with a vengeance and forget how good he was during season 2 and the beginning of season 3, this is the perfect episode for that.
So, this is it for 2012. What a year, eh? I don't have much else to say but, thank you guys for following me here. Thank you for your input, thank you for your comments, your visits, thanks for making me feel like I am giving something worth reading to the fandom, and thanks for being so tolerating with my opinions and for voicing yours so well in the comments. Thank you for being there for me. You have been great. See you all in 2013.
- Defining moment: That apple pie eating moment. Never has eating a rotten piece of food being so tense, disgusting and hilarious as this one. More of that please.