SPOILER ALERT! Those of you who have not seen the show, be warned. This review is going to contain spoilers about the episode. If you have not seen it yet, watch it right now and read my review in 20 minutes, or prepare to have some of the critical plot mentioned before you view it. I am assuming many of you are bronies, or fans of the show, and you are reading this review for an interesting insight on an episode you have seen countless times already (as have I), in which case, continue reading, and enjoy!
As the episode begins, we see Applejack attempt to train her “distance bucking”, which is immediately interrupted by Rainbow Dash coming to ask what she’s up to. Rainbow Dash is curious about what she’s trying to do, and Applejack explains to her that she’s training for a game called buckball. According to Applejack, her cousin Braeburn has assembled a team in Appleloosa and has gloated that his team could beat Ponyville. Rainbow Dash, being super competitive, immediately disagrees and is outraged; she claims she could easily beat them. AJ recruits RD into the team for Ponyville, to which RD is absolutely pumped to join. The problem is, RD has no idea what buckball is.
There’s a quick cut to RD telling Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy what buckball is, describing the different roles, how great it is and boasting that she’s a total expert at the subject. AJ reminds her that she’s only been an expert since she told her what it is. AJ also says that Braeburn found a pegasus and a unicorn (which are absolutely vital parts of the team) and that his team would beat theirs. Fluttershy points out they don’t even have a team. RD says that her and AJ are the first 2 members, and they’re scouting for a unicorn. For this, they have Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie fill roles on an opposing team, and have tryouts for the unicorn position.
After explaining the rules of the game to the unicorns trying out, they begin to play. Within the first round, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie absolutely excel at the game and seem to be way better than RD, or even AJ who has been playing for a long time. As they keep having fun, Fluttershy’s only flaw is she cares too much for the butterflies to let them be in the playing field. This is the most adorable flaw imaginable. As the practice goes on, all the unicorns that try out seem to be terrible at the game, and RD and AJ are astonished with all the failures, as well as their friends being so much better than they were.
As Pinkie and Fluttershy are discussing how much fun it is, Snails comes by. He easily uses his water buckets to catch a bunch of balls that Pinkie Pie accidentally threw his way. They ask him to catch the balls in the normal basket, and he does so very easily. They quickly recruit him into the team after he says he has nothing better to be doing. RD and AJ then get Fluttershy and Pinkie to be the other two members of the team, since they’re both so good.
Fluttershy says she was just having fun, to which AJ says “You can have all the fun you want, as long as you’re beating Braeburn’s team”, which sort of makes it obvious how this episode is going to end up. Immediately it takes that turn, and AJ says if Pinkie and Fluttershy really want to win, they’re gonna have to get serious since they’ll be representing all of Ponyville and, more importantly, them. While Snails is off casually tossing the balls between baskets, Pinkie and Fluttershy seem very nervous for what’s coming. RD runs through the course for an increasingly more and more horrified Fluttershy, who is suddenly too nervous to even properly handle the ball. RD and AJ both end up putting serious pressure on Fluttershy and Pinkie.
They go through a training montage, Fluttershy attempts to follow the strict training regime and crashes straight into a pole. Applejack coaches Pinkie Pie very hard until Pinkie is unhappy. The training montage continues, and things look worse and worse. By the end, both of them are totally uncoordinated and not nearly as good as they were. Afterwards, Rainbow Dash and Applejack comment as much, not seeming to understand why their friends are suddenly not able to play very well. Pinkie and Fluttershy are confused too, since they “thought the point of practicing is to get better.” Either way, they break for the night to get plenty of rest for the game the next day.
Walking home, Pinkie and Fluttershy discuss how they don’t want to let Ponyville down, but they’re not feeling confident after their disastrous practice. After a short discussion, they decide that it’s unlikely anypony in Ponyville even knows what buckball is to begin with, and therefore nobody will care who wins or loses the game. This helps them feel better.
The next morning (the day of the match), the team is met by some cheering Ponyville fans. Snails, ever helpful, says the whole town seems to care a lot. As the players board the train to leave, AJ and RD announce they went around town and informed everybody about the game and how great the team is. The town is even planning to throw a celebration in honor of their victory. RD, oblivious to her friends’ anxiety, tells them that they should just think about every single pony celebrating their win.
Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie are absolutely horrified by this, and go to confront RD and AJ. Pinkie Pie tries to explain their concerns, but the words get caught in her throat. Fluttershy, however, is able to assertively vocalize the pair’s worry that they will lose, disappointing everyone who is rooting for them. Neither of them want to play anymore, and they run off to hide. Fluttershy has definitely gotten good at standing up for herself, as was shown in “Flutter Brutter.”
RD and AJ walk through the train carriages, trying to understand why Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie don’t want to play anymore. They toy with the idea of the encouragement they attempted to provide merely hurting, and as RD begins to talk about how they should totally get “in the zone,” she realizes that everything she was saying was nothing like her friends. This is when AJ recognizes that by trying to make their friends focus on what’s important to them, they ruined what made the game fun for their friends.
RD and AJ search the train, and find Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie hiding in the luggage car, attempting to avoid their game with Appleloosa. RD and AJ have hatched a plan here, and tell them that they do not need to play against Appleloosa anymore; they they’ll take their place. They would like it if they could play a game against them for practice, though.
At first the practice goes miserably since Pinkie and Fluttershy are too afraid to even play, but they quickly fall back into the fun of the game and enjoy what they’re doing again, able to soundly beat AJ and RD. As the practice ends, RD and AJ reveal that they were just trying to show Pinkie and Fluttershy that they really are good at playing the game. Fluttershy and Pinkie realize they really were good, and RD tells them why it is that they were doing so poorly: because she was treating them like she would expect to be treated. Pinkie and Fluttershy are still nervous about letting everyone down… until Snails pops in with his own advice and says “Do what I do and just don’t think about it. I don’t think about anything. EVER.”
This seems to be enough for the ponies, and at the game the next day both ponies use their special skills at buckball to defeat Braeburns team and win the game for Ponyville. After the match they talk with the other team, Braeburn says they’ll have to get serious for their next match. Our duo of ponies tells them that everyone knows the secret to winning is to have fun.
Yay for Braeburn! I always love seeing him make an appearance, even if he is on a losing team. As far as stallions go, he is really good looking and has a nice design. That cowboy thing works well for him. No, I am not attracted to ponies, but… this song definitely says something about him, haha.
Over all, this episode had a good message that can apply to more situations than games and more ages than just kids. The lesson here is to not let what’s important to you ruin things for other people, who may like the same things as you, but for totally different reasons. This is really an all-inclusive lesson many people need to learn.
I thought it was interesting how they said they needed a unicorn and decided to include a different minor character rather than any of the other unicorns they could have picked from. It was nice to not see Twilight come in and be amazing at something else. Snails offered a ton of great comedy to the episode and showed that even “dumb” characters can be smart in some ways. My only true criticism is that the overall plot of the show seemed very obvious once the word “fun” came out of somepony’s mouth, and I knew where the episode was headed after that.
(Special thanks to my boyfriend for watching the episode with me and helping me write this review!)