Nuggets of Wisdom

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Pony Recaps: Bats!


Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na FLUTTERBAT!

Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na FLUTTERBAT!

FLUTTERBAT! FLUTTERBAT!

As you can tell, I really, really enjoyed this episode. This is something I haven’t been able to say for any of the previous episodes this season. Aside from the two-part season premiere, most of the other episodes have been rather mediocre, to the point where I was wondering if there would be any exceptional episodes this season. Then this episode comes along and answers that question for me with a resounding “Yes!”

This was a fun episode to watch and comment on, and considering previous episodes, which have been so droll that I was forced to write recaps about them, this one allowed me much more material to comment on and praise in more detail than before.

As a Fluttershy fan, I absolutely adored Flutter-bat!—and clearly, so did other fans, as the net has exploded with Flutter-bat fan art. There is something adorable (if not—dare I say—seductive) about Fluttershy acting like a vampire. The female vampire has always been an alluring figure within horror, so when you turn one of the most adored pony characters into a vampire, she becomes even more lovable.

That wasn’t the only good thing about this episode. Though I didn’t care for the song, the story was very fun to watch. In many scenes, it became very suspenseful without being too scary or too cheesy, making it a more fitting horror-related episode than Castle-Mania!

I also loved the moral dilemma of trying to save the Apple Farm while also having to consider potentially upsetting the natural balance within the ecosystem, as Fluttershy explains how the vampire fruit bats play an important role with the apple trees. Though this issue isn’t delved into any deeper this episode, it does provide a better, more nuanced environmental message than most environmental franchises like FernGully and Captain Planet. (You see, writers: it is possible to write an environmental message without falling into the tired false dichotomy of “environmentalists good; big business evil!”)

I know it’s too early to say this, but aside from “Princess Twilight Sparkle”, this has to be the best episode this season, and until a better episode comes along, I’m sticking to this opinion.

Anyway, here’s the episode along with my thoughts on it:





Has anyone else noticed that, when Apple Jack and the rest of her family are working on their farm, they're always bucking apples? I know that it's what they do for a living, but certainly there is more work to tending a farm than simply picking fruit, and it's not like every day for them is apple bucking season. I don't know. I just would like to see more variety to Apple Jack's work than bucking apples.


Is it just me or does Apple Jack really love apples? I mean, really love them!


Doesn't this bell look exactly like the school bell that Pinkie Pie was ringing in Castle Mania? (And why does a barn need a bell anyway?)


I know this is a fantasy cartoon where an apple that big would hardly be out of the ordinary, but you still have to wonder how it managed to get that big without snapping from the tree. Just look at it. It's causing the whole branch to bend, and yet it's weight hasn't cause it to snap apart from the tree.


"AppleJack, when you go big, you really go big" Aaaannnnndddd the AJ/Rarity shippers are having fun with that quote.


So how does Fluttershy manage to communicate with the animals? Her special talent is being able to relate to animals, yet she also has to learn their language. Which raises the question: how different are vampire bats from regular bats? Because I'm sure Fluttershy has worked with regular bats before. How different can they be from vampire bats?


I'm going to be perfectly honest here: I don't like this song. The melody is too dissonant, and the lyrics are too choppy. I know that I'm alone in that opinion, as most bronies love this song. They compare it to a Danny Elfman song from the Nightmare Before Christmas, but since I'm not a fan of that movie, I don't share the same sentiment as them.


I'm probably alone in sharing Fluttershy's opinion that bats can be cute. Yes, I think bats are cute, not ugly, though some are. Seriously, they're like fluffy little mice with wings! Just try looking at these baby bats without going "aww!"


Now these bats, on the other hand...


...look a lot like Gremlins. Not sure if their design were inspired by the movie, or if it's a complete coincidence.


I know everyone else has made this joke, but I can't resist: I...AM...BATMARE!


And here's my main gripe with this episode: Twilight joining the rest of the ponies to gang up on Fluttershy. This simply isn't in-character with her. Twilight has normally been immune to the mob mentality, as episodes as Bridle Gossip has shown. She tends to be the lone voice of reason fighting against collective outrage. But here, she's more than willing to join the others in chanting "Kill the beast!"--er, I mean "Stop the bats!" This is especially disappointing considering her new position as alicorn princess, which places her at a higher standard. She should be better than this. Far better.


"Fruit bat round up, fruit back round up!" Heh! Second "Winter Wrap-Up!" in the season.


This was an interesting look back at the Apple Family history. Though I was expecting Granny Smith to show up somewhere in the episode and provide a clearer perspective on the issue, perhaps how, despite the vampire fruit bats devastating one year's crop, their involvement helped provide better, more plentiful crops in the future, thus playing an important role in the ecosystem as Fluttershy suggested.


Why is the rest of the Apple Family away for the start of Apple Bucking Season? Didn't we learn from Applebuck Season that harvesting is too much for one pony to handle? So why is Apple Jack by herself bucking apples without her family or friends helping?


Anyone else notice the beehive hanging outside Twilight's house? Considering Twilight's past predicaments with bees, you'd assume she wouldn't allow them there.


"Think of the cider. Won't some pony think of the cider?" Obvious reference is obvious.


Now this is a real interesting dilemma. On the one hand, the vampire fruit bats do play an important role in the ecosystem, and tampering with them can upset the balance of it. But on the other hand, allowing the fruit bats to run wild can potentially ruin the Apple's crops, and thus not only their livelihood, but also the local economy. This is how you present environmental issues within stories: with nuance rather than as black-and-white. Are you listening creators of Captain Planet and The Lorax? ARE YOU LISTENING!


It's Chi-Pinka Ap-Ana! (Okay, bad pun is bad. Really bad!")


That bat looks like a real "face hugger" if you know what I mean. Obvious sci-fi reference is obvious!


And the stare returns in all of its epicenes!


You have to wonder what the fruit bats are going to eat now that they no longer have an appetite for apples. Do they simply move onto eating other fruits? If so, are there other fruits nearby for them to eat? Considering how they seem to be indigenous to Ponyville, their diet probably consists of mostly apples, and eliminating that food could easily place them in a position to starve. (I know that sounds dark for a children's series, which is why it was never addressed, but the implications" are clearly there.)


"Ah, don't worry Apple Jack, it was my pleasure!" Okay. I admit. That was actually funny.


Foreshadowing!


Yeah, somehow I feel the rotten apples would still be there even after getting rid of the bats.


What exactly do fruit bats read?


"LOL!" at the apple on Rarity's horn.


Not sure if Fluttershy is really afraid about being out at night, or if she is trying to hide her new vampiric nature from her friends.


Something that would be the expression she has peeking at Big Macintosh skinny dipping down by the river. (Or is that just me?)


A bat-themed episode with the characters shining their own signals into the night sky? I wonder if there is a reference in this.


Wonder if Pinkie learned how to grab and move things with her hair from Mane-iac. Because we don't see he do anything like this before.


Foreshadowing!


I know this shadow is supposed to create suspense and foreshadowing, but at this point, we all know it's Fluttershy, so it seems rather moot.


Am I alone in assuming that a scarecrow in a bat-themed episode is a reference to the Batman villain, or simply just another scarecrow.


It's official: Flutter-bat is my new favorite version of Fluttershy, and it seems to be a big fan favorite of others.


"Fluttershy, we know you're acting like a beastlike monster, but we're going to address you like a rational pony and try reasoning you out of this."


To anyone wondering if Pinkie Pie is acting in-character, which many fans are questioning this season, in this instance, yes, yes she is.


Now this presentation is awesome, not only with the computer-style design and layout, but also the background music. Does it remind anyone else of the soundtrack to Tron Legacy?


I know a lot of bronies, especially DigiBrony, have been puzzled by how the spell could have transferred over the Fluttershy, but somehow, it seems plausible in this world.


The ears. It's. Just. Too. CUTE!


Somehow I feel Applejack could have easily lured Fluttershy to them with a regular batch of apples without having to sacrifice her prize-winning apple--though this does show character development in how she is willing to place the interests of her friends over her own.


I'll ignore that Fluttershy has a reflection, which vampires don't normally have, since these "vampires" are not the same as regular ones. What does confuse me, as it confuses others, is how she can cast the stare on herself. If the stare is something that she has to will to do, then how can she accidently give herself the stare with her reflection.


Epic magic effects are epic.


Meh, this "witty" banter was more contrived than witty.


Now this was a nice double moral. Apple Jack learns not to be short-sighted in solutions to her problems, and Fluttershy learns not to allow herself to be pressured into going along with the group. One would argue these morals have been made in previous episodes, but they work well together here.


As I mentioned earlier, these surprise endings are not leading up to anything big later in the season, as Meghan McCarthy has stated, and again, I find this to be disappointing. One fake-out ending is okay for one episode, but having so many of them is simply trite. I'm not sure if they are merely serving as a distraction, or they are the product of lazy writing. You all be the judge.