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Pinkie Pie: Speech! Speech!
Applejack: Oh, shucks. I'm not much for speeches.
Pinkie Pie: All right then, no speech! (runs off)
Pinkie Pie: (runs back)
Written by Amy Keating Rogers
The episode begins as Applejack runs an obstacle course to practice for the upcoming Equestrian Rodeo in Canterlot. As she's won ten Ponyville rodeos in a row, everyone expects her to return with lots of blue ribbons (and, of course, tons of prize money to fix the damaged town hall; Derpy Hooves has outdone herself in the screwup department). After a flattering goodbye from all of Ponyville, AJ sets off for Canterlot.
A week later, everypony has gathered at Sweet Apple Acres to throw a surprise party for Applejack's return...but she doesn't show. A delivery pony arrives with a telegram from Applejack:
Twilight Sparkle: "Family and friends: Not coming back to Ponyville. Don't worry, will send money soon." ...that's all there is.
Stunned at Applejack's refusal to return, Twilight and the others declare they'll find Applejack and bring her back. They set off to search for their friend.
After a brief stop at the rodeo grounds, the ponies arrive in Dodge Junction, where they find Applejack has accepted a job at Cherry Jubilee's cherry orchard. AJ insists she just wanted a change of scenery, but her friends don't buy it and decide to stick around to try and get some answers.
The ponies fail to get anything out of Applejack at first, but when they weaponize Pinkie Pie's chattery nature, Applejack finally caves. She swears a Pinkie Promise to tell them everything the next morning at breakfast... but she never shows.
That's when the others discover that it is never a good idea to break a Pinkie Promise.
The ponies look for Applejack and find her trying to get out of Dodge (literally) via stagecoach! They give chase, accidentally losing Pinkie Pie and Rarity in the process. Applejack thinks she's safe when a Friendship Express Train passes and blocks her friends' pursuit, but Rainbow and Fluttershy fly over it and knock her over, revealing the real reason Applejack didn't return: She won ribbons in every event, but not one blue ribbon -- and no prize money for the town hall repairs. Applejack was too ashamed to return empty-hoofed after everypony's build-up, so she took the job at Cherry Jubilee's so she could earn money to send home.
The friends all assure Applejack that it doesn't matter what color ribbons she won; having her home with them in Ponyville means more than any prize.
AJ, back on the Friendship Express Train home, narrates her letter to Princess Celestia:
"It's a tad easier to be proud when you come in first than it is when you finish further back, but there's no reason to hide when you don't do as well as you'd hoped. You can't run away from your problems. Better to run to your friends and family!
As they return to Ponyville, Applejack is greeted warmly by her friends and dogpiled by her family.
Meanwhile, Pinkie and Rarity are making their way back on a hoofcar after being knocked off the cart during the chase to catch Applejack. Pinkie is chattering incessantly, and Rarity is muttering dire implications for Rainbow Dash, who refused to go back for them.
Tropes appearing in this episode: (YMMV tropes can be found here):
- Absentee Actor: Only Spike doesn't appear in this episode, although his voice actress is present as the Mayor.
- Plus, the telegram pony has Spike's voice at a lower pitch.
- Actor Allusion: Tabitha St. Germain voices Derpy Hooves, a pony who can't even move without causing a major disaster? It's Generation 3 all over again. Good thing the Twinkling Balloon wasn't in this episode.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Why the already punny 'Pinkie Swear' got retconned to 'Pinkie Promise' here.
- All Deserts Have Cacti: Possibly justified, since the location is clearly paralleling the desert of the Southwestern USA, where cacti grow on a regular basis.
- Ascended Fanon/Ascended Meme: Rainbow Dash calls a certain wall-eyed grey pegasus "Derpy" on-screen. If it wasn't canon before...it is now.
- And then promptly de-canon'd by Hasbro executives after the "Ableist" Controversy (for lack of a better name for it). Also technically Jossed by the episode's writer, who said she originally called the pony in question Ditzy-Doo.
- Benevolent Boss/Nice Pony: Cherry Jubilee, who gladly offers Applejack a job with room and board when she hears she's looking for a "change of scenery", and tells her workers to have fun before they get started.
- Berserk Button/Burning with Anger: Don't ever break a Pinkie Promise, or else Pinkie will... get seriously upset with you!
- Fandom example following the Bowdlerization of Derpy. At least 40,000 people felt this regarding Hasbro's actions during the situation.
- Beware the Silly Ones: You do NOT want to break a Pinkie Promise.
- Big No: Applejack's driven to this by Pinkie's rambling.
- Bowdlerise: The new version of the episode has Derpy's scene completely re-recorded to remove her Simpleton Voice and partially re-animated to make her eyes less googly.
- This caused a large Derpy controversy. Just search for Derpy on YouTube.
- Break the Cutie: We don't find out until the end, but her failure at the rodeo did this to Applejack. Just listen to her voice when she reveals this to the rest of the Mane Cast.
- Brick Joke: There are a few of these this episode.
- We learn that the town that Applejack went to after the rodeo is named Dodge Junction. At the very start of the chase scene, Applejack says, "I gotta get the heck outta Dodge!"
- During the chase scene, Pinkie manages to get on the carriage with Applejack. After AJ's apology, Pinkie jumps back onto the chase cart with the quick line "Rarity, catch me!", knocking them both off the cart. At the very end of the episode, we see Pinkie and Rarity traveling together on a hoof cart...and Pinkie still can't decide what she wants to name her new recipe (or is simply enjoying saying the silly words).
- Pinkie briefly forgets about her Potty Emergency after spotting Applejack, but soon has to excuse herself again.
- Bruiser with a Soft Center: Big Mac is as tearful and heartbroken as Granny Smith and Apple Bloom at the idea that Applejack isn't coming home.
- Rainbow Dash also tears up near the end of the episode.
- Call Back: Pinkie Promises have returned, and this time, we see what happens when you break one.
- Applejack rattling off all those cherry dishes is reminiscent of how she first introduces herself to Twilight. This time, however, she's more matter-of-fact than enthusiastic.
- Applejack lost the first event of the Iron Pony Contest in "Fall Weather Friends" on a technicality--she bumped into one of the barrels in a slalom. In the first few moments of The Last Roundup, she nudges the steeplechase hurdle, and eventually fails to take first place in anything.
- In "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", Applejack got her cutie mark at the same time she realized that Sweet Apple Acres was where she truly belonged, which justifies how Granny and Apple Bloom consider it very much out of character for her to abandon her home and family. Big Mac's despondency upon finding out she's not coming back also hearkens back to his sadness when she first left as a filly.
- Pinkie falling from the cart and taking Rarity with her mirrors a scene from "The Return of Harmony, Part 2", in which the same thing happens in the Twinkling Balloon. Applejack being unable to face an unpleasant truth and trying to duck the consequences also calls back to "Return of Harmony, Part 1".
- Not only that, but Applejack seems to have learned from experience how terrible she is at lying and instead resorts to refusing to talk at all to avoid it.
- Not only is Applejack's planned surprise party thrown in what appears to be the same barn as a certain other one, at the beginning of the scene, we hear what seems to be a slight variation of the very same music which is played during Pinkie's psychotic breakdown in the same episode. A bit of vague Foreshadowing? Perhaps.
- The four ponies pulling the carriage look an awful lot like the ones that pulled the train in "Over A Barrel". Their annoyance at AJ's whipping their reins is reminiscent of the annoyance Rarity's friends expressed when Spike did the same in "The Best Night Ever".
- The background ponies at Applejack's surprise party were all present at the Apple family reunion... except for Bon-Bon, who apparently decided to crash the party.
- The "Friendship" Leitmotif from the Return of Harmony reoccurs.
- This is not the first time a pony jumps over a piece of wood in slow-motion.
- Chase Scene: The ponies chase Applejack's stage coach in a cart.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Pinkie's constant chattering is used as a torture device to make Applejack talk.
- Cross-Dressing Voices: With a bizarre twist. Tabitha St. Germain thought Derpy was a boy and voiced "him" accordingly, putting on her best male voice. Only after the episode's premiere on The Hub did the fans gently correct her.
- Deadpan Snarker:
Derpy Hooves (stomping on a storm cloud): I just don't know what went wrong! (gets zapped herself)
Rainbow Dash: Yeah. It's a mystery.
- Defictionalization: Within a few hours of airing, at least one fan had prepared Pinkie's Chimi-cherry-changa recipe; several more had appeared within a day of airing.
- Department of Redundancy Department
Fluttershy: Being surprised can be nice, but being startled can be very... startling.
Rarity: Were you insulted when I insulted your hair?
- Determinator: All of Applejack's friends become this when it comes to finding out what's wrong and bringing her home.
- Development Gag: The photo of Applejack that Rarity uses is based on Lauren Faust's concept sketch of her.
- Did Not Do the Research: Somehow, Tabitha St. Germain thought she was voicing a male character with Derpy's lines.
- To be fair, she said that she wasn't shown any artwork and no one told her otherwise. "Derpy" is also not exactly a feminine sounding name. So really the fault lies with the directors for not telling her anything.
- Exact Words: Applejack demands nobody talk about Ponyville, so the girls talk about anything but.
- After having her ear talked off by Pinkie, Applejack finally agrees to tell everypony why she can't go home at breakfast tomorrow. She gets out of it by simply not going to breakfast.
- Miss Jubilee says Applejack won so many ribbons. She isn't wrong; they're just not blue.
- Every Man Has His Price/Screw the Rules, I Have Money: When Applejack hires a carriage to skip town and her friends start chasing her, both Applejack and Twilight try to buy the pulling stallions by offering them double pay if they run faster, then triple pay if they slow down and finally quadruple pay if they run at top speed and leave the girls eating their dust. The stallions happily accept every offer without a single beat.
- At the end, the stallions decide that not even quadruple pay is worth risking their lives for Applejack and they ditch her.
Coach ponies, visibly upset: Lady, you're trouble!
- Exasperated Perp: Rainbow Dash's plan to get Applejack to talk is to let Pinkie Pie annoy her into submission.
- Fandom Nod: Considering that this episode canonized Derpy, it can't be coincidence that Dinky Hooves and Carrot Top (who are closely associated with Derpy in Fanon) make several cameos and can even be seen together when Applejack's train leaves, sitting in the train car that Derpy appears in during the season 2 opening sequence and the previous episode.
- Though it might be a case of Shipping Goggles, Bon-Bon and Lyra Heartstrings are standing together and can be seen trading glances.
- Follow That Stagecoach: As if Pinkie had to tell them.
- Foreshadowing: In her practice run during the Cold Open, AJ's back leg dings one of the steeplechase hurdles and two of the hay bales she threw didn't cross the finish line, which are the sort of technicalities that would cost her a blue ribbon.
- Forgot They Could Fly: Applejack realizes that celebrating her getaway from her friends is premature when the two Pegasi pulling the cart simply fly over the Friendship Express Train in their way.
- Happened at the beginning of the chase scene as well. Rainbow Dash apparently forgot that she could fly faster than the stallions pulling the coach could run, and Twilight apparently forgot that she could just teleport into Applejack's coach.
- Furry Confusion: The whole chase scene.
- Furry Reminder: Ponies in this show rarely clap when they applaud -- they stomp.
- GASP: Everypony, upon hearing that Applejack is not returning to Ponyville.
- And again, when Pinkie discovers Applejack has welshed on her Pinkie Promise.
- Genki Girl: Lampshaded in that they actually weaponize Pinkie's hyperactivity to coerce Applejack into talk.
- Hoofcar Pursuit: Poor Pinkie and Rarity are left behind and forced to hoofcar all the way back to Ponyville.
- Heroic BSOD: Applejack spends most of the episode in one for failing to bring back the money and rewards that the town expects of her.
- High-Pressure Emotion: Pinkie blows her stack after Applejack seems to break her Pinkie Promise.
- Inherently Funny Words: To Pinkie Pie, "pickle barrel," "kumquat," and all three potential names for her new recipe: "cherrychanga," "chimicherry," or "chimicherrychanga".
- Innocently Insensitive: Twilight Sparkle. The telegram pony was sincerely delighted by the party (it was apparently his birthday). Twilight's actions to point out his mistake included scowling at him and slamming the door in his face, doubling his embarrassment and hurt feelings. Justified from her point of view, of course, because of her worry about Applejack's failure to return home.
- Pinkie makes up for it by giving him a piece of cake immediately afterward.
- The Jimmy Hart Version: The music behind AJ's practice run in the Cold Open is the Bonanza remix first heard in "Swarm of the Century".
- Also, when the other Mane 6 ponies are searching for Applejack, the background music sounds very similar to the Hammer Bros. theme from Super Mario Bros 3.
- For the backing music of the cherry conveyor belt scene, there's a play on the well-known "Looney Tunes machine music" (more specifically, the second movement of Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse").
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: If you preferred the original version of Derpy's scene over the edited version, then you'd better keep a vicegrip on that Friendship Express DVD--it's the only place (outside of DVRs and YouTube uploads) you'll be able to see it.
- The Klutz/Cute Clumsy Girl: Derpy, on the disaster-causing level of klutziness.
- The Knights Who Say Squee: Rainbow Dash has a fangirl moment over Wild Bull Hickock and Calamity Mane.
- Loophole Abuse: Applejack didn't break her Pinkie Promise so much as duck it completely.
- Manly Tears: Big Macintosh's reaction to Applejack not coming home.
- Rainbow Dash gets a rare tomboy variant when successfully convincing Applejack to come home.
- Ms. Exposition:
- Mood Dissonance: The below-mentioned Shout-Out takes place during what, at first glance, appears to be a fairly serious scene.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Derpy and the Mayor share this; Derpy literally breaks the town hall, and the Mayor praises Applejack in advance for pledging her winnings to fix it.
- Nopony Poops: Averted by Pinkie Pie's discomfort, which has an obvious source, as well as Applejack leaving the outhouse and Pinkie rushing into it.
- Plus, we can actually hear the toilet flush.
- Noodle Incident: The rodeo is mentioned and is a major plot point, but we don't get many details on it other than a few names and that Applejack didn't win first in any event.
- Exactly how the town hall was in the shape it was in is left up in the air, though Rainbow Dash's dialog certainly suggests Derpy had a heavy hoof in it.
- This was confirmed by the writer of the episode, who said that the original script had a short flashback where we see Ditzy-Doo (Derpy's original name in-script) accidentally break Town Hall. The scene was cut for time and for shifting the episode's focus away from the main plot.
- Three of the Mane Five guessing how they might have made Applejack leave town. Twilight and Rarity's guesses are pretty mundane, but Rainbow Dash made a cloud rain on her for some reason.
- Exactly how the town hall was in the shape it was in is left up in the air, though Rainbow Dash's dialog certainly suggests Derpy had a heavy hoof in it.
- No OSHA Compliance: You'd think they would condemn the town hall if it was in that bad a shape rather than hold a celebration near it...
- Not So Stoic: Big Macintosh, natch.
- Applejack tries to be The Stoic when her friends badger her with questions, but they see right through her facade and get her to reveal what's troubling her.
- OOC Is Serious Business:
- Everypony going looking for Applejack is spurred by how out of character her actions seem. Her being defensive and evasive also tips them off to the fact they're not getting the full story.
- Pinkie Pie, again, goes berserk after Applejack breaks her Pinkie Promise.
- Oh Crap: Applejack, once Pinkie found out she broke her promise.
- And again, after managing to hide herself behind a train, the two pegusi just fly over it.
- The Mane Six minus Applejack, after seeing they'll have to go to Dodge.
- Orwellian Retcon: The famous Derpy scene has been altered: Derpy is no longer referred to by name (except in The Hub's closed captions, since they weren't updated to match the new version), her googly eyes are much less googly, her voice has been re-dubbed to be more The Ditz, and Rainbow doesn't use as harsh of a tone when speaking to her. This was revealed to be a response to a Vocal Minority that believed Derpy seemed insensitive to the mentally challenged, against the show's message of tolerance. While the episode's writer, Amy Keating Rogers, believed changing the episode would only complicate things (since the praise and thanks she had received FAR outweighed the hate mail), the decision was out of her hands.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: Like last season, this episode is suddenly a western, complete with frontier town and epic carriage chase.
- Overly Long Gag: Pinkie's mouth exercises.
- Potty Emergency: Pinkie really needs to go to the bathroom when they get to Dodge Junction.
- Pride: Once again, the source of Applejack's problems comes from her fear of failure (in this case, the consequences of such) and her self-image.
- Quivering Eyes: When Apple Bloom hears her big sister's not coming home, and then the whole family as Granny says, "Our little bushel has lost one apple."
- Schizo-Tech; Steam powered trains yet conveyor belts are pony powered.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The carriage ponies Applejack hires decide in unison that even quadruple their usual price isn't worth risking getting hit by a train.
- Second Place Is for Losers: What Applejack believes. Justified, as she wanted to win the prize money to pay for damages to Ponyville town hall.
- Serious Business: "NOPONY breaks a Pinkie Promise!"
- Stealth Pun: Applejack needs to get out of Dodge.
- Shout-Out: The cherry sorting scene is a clear nod to the famous chocolate conveyor belt scene from I Love Lucy, itself a homage to the silent film Modern Times.
- Shout-Out Theme Naming: Rainbow Dash asks Applejack if she met Wild Bull Hickok and Calamity Mane.
- Something We Forgot: Poor Rarity and Pinkie are accidentally left behind by the rest of the cast when they return to Ponyville.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: For an episode ostensibly about Applejack, there's sure a lot of focus on Pinkie. Plus, you know, DERPY!
- Stock Sound Effects: When one pony finally says she knows where Applejack is and points to the distant desert, there's the shriek of a raptor bird. (Last heard in "May the Best Pet Win" when Rainbow announces the race through Ghastly Gorge.)
- Stop Helping Me!: Derpy's efforts in setting up Applejack's sendoff party end up doing more damage than anything else, and are what ultimately set off the events of the episode.
- Suddenly Voiced: Derpy finally gets her own speaking lines! And is (well, was) officially named, too!
- Even better (see the Actor Allusion, above), she's voiced by Tabitha St. Germain, the voice of Rarity and Princess Luna.
- They Knew the Risks: Rainbow Dash's reason for not going back for Pinkie and Rarity.
- This Means War
Rarity: When I get back, you're gonna get it, Rainbow Dash!
- Shortly after this episode was released, the summary for "Read It and Weep," was revealed, showing that Rainbow Dash was now in the Hospital. Fans assumed it was Rarity getting her revenge.
- Toon Physics: Applejack was involved with two instances.
- During the conveyor belt sorting scene, she's running very fast in the flywheel, causing her tail and mane to fly behind her even though they should fall normally because she's staying in one spot.
- Applejack escapes from the others by jumping into a stagecoach pulled by four other ponies. The remaining five characters decide they aren't fast enough to catch her -- until they spot a cart, and two of them get harnessed to it while the other three ride (pulling a cart instead of running unencumbered makes ponies faster).
- Train Station Goodbye: Happens at the beginning when Applejack heads off for the rodeo.
- Train Escape: Applejack crosses a train track in order to block her friends with an oncoming Friendship Express Train. It doesn't work, as Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash just fly over the train.
- Trampled Underfoot: Defied. Fluttershy spots a desert rabbit in their path and screeches to a halt. The glower Rainbow Dash gives her implies Rainbow might've jumped over the bunny... or just kept going.
- Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking: When Pinkie demands a speech, Applejack says she's not much for speeches, but...
- Unstoppable Rage: Pinkie after Applejack seems to break her Pinkie Promise.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Derpy breaking Town Hall is what sets off the story for this episode.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Rainbow Dash, whose most notable interactions with Applejack are usually rivalistic or argumentative, is arguably the most vehement on bringing her back to Ponyville. And is equally aggressive about it.
Rainbow Dash: Excuse me, AJ, but we didn't travel all over Equestria searching for you to come home without you!
Applejack: Well I didn't ask you to come looking for me!
- Voice of the Legion: Pinkie's voice reverberates when yelling at Applejack.
Pinkie Pie: APPLEJACK!! YOU PINKIE PROMISED!!
- Walking Disaster Area: Derpy can't even sit down without something breaking.
- Wham! Line: There were two of them in a row! First Rainbow Dash's infamous "Now, careful, Derpy!" and then Derpy's "I just don't know what went wrong!" The fandom proceeded to rejoice.
- For a more dramatic Wham, there's... "Don't you get it? There's every color of ribbon down there. Every color... but... blue."
- What the Hell, Hero?: Applejack is willing to endanger four of the Dodge Junction ponies with that railroad crossing stunt just to keep her embarrassment and the fact she didn't win any money for Ponyville at all from her friends. This makes them write her off, even though she promised them quadruple to leave her friends in the dust.
Dodge Junction Stallions: [in unison] Lady, you're trouble.
- Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises: Multiple times this episode:
- Pinkie and Fluttershy both get them when the cherry sorter speeds up too fast for them.
- Pinkie again, upon finding out somepony broke her promise.
- Applejack, on hearing the voice of an enraged Pinkie as she tries to sneak out of town.
- The fandom, upon hearing Derpy talk for the first time.
- Work Off the Debt: Self-inflicted: Applejack takes a job at a cherry orchard to replace the prize money she failed to win at the rodeo.
- You All Look Familiar: Several familiar faces from Ponyville, including Carrot Top and Caramel, appear in the Equestria rodeo stadium all the way in Canterlot.