Once upon a time I was part of the furry fandom. It was a dark and damp time during which a lot of Rule 34 was drawn and drama knocked at the doors of my gallery every week. It was also a time filled with self-righteous assholes coming at me and telling me that the way I was doing things was wrong. At least once a month during ten years I always had someone coming to my VLC gallery or to my FurAffinity gallery with a list of complains and a handful of pictures with red traces on them, to show me how to properly do anatomy. I wasn’t that confident back then, so I followed all of their advices as they shouted at me through the power of caps lock, and always the result that I ended up with looked nothing like what I had produced. It looked like someone had shat it through a Rob Liefeld generator, and it had the exact same aesthetic as what every popular artist was drawing at the moment.
That’s when I realized that doing what other people tell you to do only works on two cases: With truths that are universal (like telling the difference between “you’re” and “your”), and when they are paying you for it. Even with the last one there are some things you shouldn't be forced to cope with. You don’t need to change anything about yourself just because you want to appeal to other people. You have to be who you are, with all your flaws and all your virtues, and if you try to change because you want to make other people happy, then you are hurting yourself more than you can imagine.
So the episode starts with the Mane Six attending, along all of Ponyville, to the reveal of the Master of Ceremonies for the upcoming Ponyville’s Day Celebration. It’s such a big event that everypony has gathered to see who the winner will be, and that’s none other than fashion horse and diamond butt extraordinaire, Rarity! With this new found responsibility, she sets to make the celebration the most “chic” celebration of all, all the way down to the name of the theme. After setting up the different events, and splitting the responsibilities between her friends, Rarity then focuses in making the celebration good enough to impress the one pony that she has a crush on, a travelling journalist pony known as Trenderhoof. Trenderhoof happens to be an expert in discovering places and making them popular through his writing, and Rarity is ecstatic to impress him, but not as much as she is invested in declaring her love for him.
She welcomes him once he arrives to the train station
(thanks to Twilight’s confidence push) and proceeds to show him around town,
all while Rarity has eyes for him and him only. But then, as soon as they get to
Sweet Apple Acres, Trenderhoof’s attention is drawn by Applejack, who seems to
be bucking and eating apples in the most seductive and slow-motion-est way
possible. Trenderhoof gets wrapped by Applejack’s country ways and soon forgets
about Rarity, who’s heart shatters into a million pieces.
Back at her Boutique, Rarity is hopelessly upset by
this turn of events, so much so that she quickly disregards Spike’s crush on
her and tries to figure out what Applejack has that she doesn’t. At the same
time, Trenderhoof is trying to court Applejack with less success than Clive Palmer’s
Jurassic Park project, as they get interrupted by Rarity wearing a very Gaudy
country outfit in the hopes of tickling Trend’s farm side. Failing at that,
Rarity then moves to try and doing some farm chores but when Applejack (who’s
only actions in the entire episode have been just being herself and doing her
daily job) proves to be more country than her, Rarity accuses her of stealing
Trenderhoof’s attention from her. Appalled, and desperate, Rarity then does
something even more extreme. She changes the entire subject of Ponyville’s Day
Celebration making it farm themed, puts on a really exaggerated country accent,
messes up her hair, puts on some torn overalls, and basically goes so country
that Bob Dylan is telling her to tone it down.
These changes don’t please any of the Mane Six,
especially Applejack who knows very well this is just to impress Trenderhoof,
so she sets up a plan to take it back at Rarity. Back at Sweet Apple Acres,
Rarity is getting everything ready for one of the events, when Applejack shows
up all coiffed and brushed, wearing a beautiful dress and with her hair styled
like a Manehattan lady. She then starts acting exactly like Rarity, accent and
all, as she lists how beautiful she is, and how well she smells (no really, she
does). Rarity, on the other hoof, says how bad her hooves are and how dirty her
hair is. The situation escalates to a point where Rarity ends up jumping into a
puddle of mud and some of it splashes onto Applejack’s dress. This crime
against fashion is enough to make her snap out of her idiotic trance, as she
apologizes to Applejack for acting like a self-centered idiot who just wanted
to impress someone else. But it’s right here when Trenderhoof shows up, all
dressed in a similar outfit to Rarity’s, and says he wants to move to
Ponyville! When Applejack fails to tell him this is a bad idea, Rarity then
proceeds to change his mind with the moral of the episode. She tells him that
changing who you are just to impress others is not the way to go.
With everything solved, and Rarity returning to the
way she was before all of this, Ponyville’s Day Celebration goes swimmingly,
everypony has a great time, and their conflicts end up being resolved.
So that was “Simple
Ways” and boy is this going to be a complicated review. I really don’t know
how to tackle this one, I really don’t. It’s not as simple as dividing it in
the things that I liked and the things that I didn’t like, because they are so
mixed up. Hell, there isn't even a point in organizing this depending on how
the fandom reacted to this because everybody loves or hates this episode for
completely different reasons. Some say is the absolute best and that it’s a one
thousand seventy three out of ten episode, and others are calling this the
biggest betrayal since “Star Wars Episode
III”. The division in this episode is staggering, and I have never seen
something like this since the reviews of the new version of “Les Miserables”. I guess I am going to
start with those issues that I have with the episode that aren't muddled in
with the things that I liked; these are the problems that I think can be
cleanly cut out and fixed.
|Geeze Rarity, take a cold shower, would you?|
|Look, I captured the exact moment when her soul breaks into smithereens.|
|I love being a meme in 4chan!!!|
|Oh...but I had already appointed the gelding with the doctors.|
|Another Tango would have been nice, though.|
|Stop using the wipers, they are not fixing it, they are making it worse!|
- Act 1: The comic book is established and our heroes are introduced.
- Act 2: The heroes’ powers are shown, and they end up getting captured.
- Act 3: The heroes are rescued, defeat the villain, and return to their world.
As it is right now, “Simple Ways” goes more or less like this.
- Act 1: The Ponyville’s Day event, Rarity’s crush on Trenderhoof, and Trenderhoof’s crush on Applejack are all introduced.
- Act 2: Rarity tries to impress Trenderhoof and failing changes her looks.
- Act 3: Applejack gives Rarity some of her own medicine, and everything gets restored back to normal.
Do you see the problem here? The second act the same consistency as wet toilet paper, and it goes literally nowhere. There are so many scenes that aren't needed at all that it feels like peeking into a trash can full of rejected ideas. The scene where Rarity is trying to buck apples is totally unnecessary, as well as the endless walk around Ponyville with Trenderhoof and Applejack, and don’t get me started with the scene where Rarity accuses Applejack of stealing Trender from her. The first act and the third act get the story going and then resolved respectively, but during the second act it feels more like the narrative has gone away to catch butterflies or something because it doesn’t advance one inch. This is particularly terrible because we barely get enough pay off after a build up that lasted more than half of the episode. I guess this was made to accentuate the comedy of the whole thing but, to be perfectly honest, the comedy isn't really that good.
The comedy is particularly uninspired in this episode.
What little there is isn't really all that satisfying, and for an episode that
featured Rarity throwing herself into a puddle of mud it feels boring and kind
of unneeded. But most important is the dialogue, and what is supposed to be a
funny comedy routine between the characters. The jokes felt forced most of the
time, and some of the funny dialogue has no direction. Which is a shame because
there were very good moments here and there. The scene where Spike looks at the
camera right after Rarity accuses him of not knowing what it is to have a crush
on someone is downright hysterical. That look he gives at the camera says it
all. Or the scene where Rarity is trying to make a plow work and she’s totally
clueless about it, that was hilarious as well. Or the scene where Applejack
reveals herself as Applejewel, and she is giving the duckiest duck face in the
planet. Those scenes were awesome!
|Perfect metaphor about the episode's comedy.|
|More of this please! No, seriously, a lot more of this.|
|Besides, Rarity suffered a lot more in that episode.|
|"Uhm, aren't you supposed to be workin' sugarcube?"|
"Oh, I'd rather see you working your flank off, sweetie pie."
|Come on, he's a cute waifu thief, you all have to agree on that.|
|The friendzone smells like tears and run mascara.|
|Admit it though, it's really hard to ignore those country ways.|
|Duck face included.|
As you might have noticed already, I am making my efforts to ignore the white coated and purple mane unicorn in the room, as I really wanted to leave her for last. I was thinking for a good half an hour what else I could talk about before moving to what really is the heart of this episode, and to be perfectly honest I don’t think there is much else to say.
|Let's see if I can find something to say around here.|
The moral was really good. I don’t think this show has ever tackled a moral like this before, and considering the tone of Season four overall it’s really fitting and it makes a lot of sense that right now they talk about it. This moral doesn’t really say anything to me, as I learnt this years ago, but those little kids that started watching this show when they were five or six years old are now eight or nine, and they are getting to the age where looks and behavior are judged severely by their friends and class mates. It’s good that this show is teaching those kids to be proud of being who they are.
The rest of the Mane Six are surprisingly un-involved in these events, despite them being there the whole time, but they do have their good moments here and there, like Pinkie Pie’s balloon head, and Fluttershy commenting on how ridiculous Rarity’s new get up is.
The tone is consistent and keeps itself between farcical drama and romantic comedy. It’s kind of weird, but then the entire episode is so it fulfills on itself and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to get used to it.
And the cameos were a lot of fun, especially seeing Derpy Hooves, Vinyl Scratch, Bulk Biceps, and a collection of oddly dressed ponies in the background.
So, overall, there isn't really much else to talk about at great length but Rarity and how was she portrayed in this episode, so let’s stop dancing around the issue and let’s talk about it.
I think Rarity was amazing in this episode.
|My obsession doesn't reach these levels, mind you.|
|She has the moves like Jagger.|
|I am a dirty, dirty, dirty horse Spike! Dirty I tell you!!!|
|Imagine this, in every episode, at all times.|
|I will have this on loop for a good couple of days before I get tired of it.|
|Not that they are hard to see to begin with.|
|Please Twilight, hide me from the anger of the YouTube Analyst Bronies.|
I know that I am taking this episode with a massive silver lining, and I don’t deny it. It’s in part because I am a huge fan of Rarity, but also because I think that what this episode lacks in structure and rhythm it compensates in character interaction and character development. It’s a perfect example of an episode where the story and the events happen not because the story controls the characters, but because the characters are in control of the story. Everything is in control of Rarity and her crazy sense of admiration for Trenderhoof, and seeing it develop on the screen is a spectacle.
In the end, this episode has big flaws in it. It could
have had a better structure, it could have had a better sense of comedy, and it
could have flexed Trenderhoof a little bit better. But the parts that are good
are the important parts. The character interaction is great, the character
writing is great, the dialogues are great, and it has a pretty compelling and
somewhat relatable moral. Is it the best Rarity episode though? I don’t think
so, there is a lot of tough competition to even consider it the second, third,
or even fourth best. Is it a weak episode? Nah, far from it, though I wouldn't
call it the best episode of Season four either. It’s definitely much more
engaging than “Flight to the Finish”
or “Rainbow Falls”, but it lacks the
charisma of “Power Ponies” and the positivity
of “Rarity Takes Manehattan”. This
episode calmly sits right in the middle of the road, covered in mud and
splinters, and wearing droopy drawers.
|Admit it, you'd watch anything if it had Rarity in charge of the production.|
|And I wouldn't have it any other way.|
- Defining Moment: The banter between “Applejewel” and Rarity at the end of the episode, where Rarity ends up throwing herself into a pig sty.