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Applejack: Being sisters is like... apple pie! You can have amazing apples, and you can have a wonderful crispy crust, but only together can you have a perfect apple pie.
Written by Cindy Morrow
One morning, Rarity is awakened by Sweetie Belle's attempt at cooking her breakfast in bed. Before they can begin arguing, however, they're interrupted by their parents, who are going on vacation and leaving Sweetie Belle with Rarity in the interim. Rarity decides to make breakfast again since Sweetie Belle burnt it, but turns her away from most of the work, and the one task she gives Sweetie Belle...adding the garnish...ends up making a big mess. Determined to win Rarity's approval, Sweetie Belle tries various ways of making herself useful (doing the laundry, drawing her a picture, cleaning up around the shop), but they all end in disaster, too (Sweetie shrinks Rarity's favorite sweater, garnishes her drawing with rare gems Rarity needs for a big project, and straightens up the "organized chaos" of Rarity's "inspiration room"), and soon Rarity is on her last nerve.
When Sweetie Belle leaves, upset by her inability to spend time with her big sister, she runs into Apple Bloom, who suggests the two enter the Sisterhooves Social, an annual tag-team competition for sisters at the Sweet Apple Acres farm. Rarity refuses, however, and the tensions boiling over cause Sweetie Belle and Rarity to disown each other as sisters. An angry Sweetie Belle leaves the boutique and heads to Sweet Apple Acres, where she discovers the excellent relationship between Applejack and Apple Bloom. Applejack invites her to help with the chores, and Sweetie Belle enjoys herself immensely.
Back at Carousel Boutique, Rarity slowly begins to realize she misses her little sister more than she thought after finding little ways in which Sweetie Belle's mistakes paid off (her shrunken sweater fits Opalescence perfectly, and the neatly-organized cloth in the inspiration room inspires a new line of outfits). She finally starts to regret their argument after finding Sweetie Belle's heartwarming drawing of the two. When Rarity arrives at the farm, however, Sweetie Belle gives her the cold shoulder, announcing that she's "adopting" Applejack as her big sister, to everypony else's surprise and consternation. Rarity's attempts to convince Sweetie Belle to return backfire when the filly calls her out for wanting to do things that only Rarity wants; after Applejack points out that Rarity needs more give-and-take in her relation with Sweetie Belle, Rarity devises a plan to fix the problem.
Come the day of the Sisterhooves Social, Apple Bloom "gives" Applejack to Sweetie Belle to enter the contest (for "ONE. DAY."). Applejack falls in a mudhole and becomes Covered in Mud early on, but the two manage to make it through the entire obstacle course, just barely losing to Berry Punch and her sister. As they celebrate, however, Sweetie Belle discovers that the pony she was racing with was actually a mud-covered Rarity, who had swapped places with Applejack in the mudhole.
Rarity and Sweetie Belle reconcile, and the two write a letter to Princess Celestia about having learned to compromise and have fun with one's siblings... only to begin arguing over the wording of the last sentence. Luckily, Spike is on hand to help them compromise.
This episode demonstrates the following tropes (YMMV items can be found here):
- Absentee Actor: The only main characters to appear are Rarity, Applejack, and Spike, plus two of the Cutie Mark Crusaders (Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom). Notably, this is the first episode in which Twilight Sparkle does not appear. It's also the first time that only part of the Cutie Mark Crusaders appear (discounting episodes before they met).
- Adult Fear: Even though we don't see her searching, what we do see makes it very clear that Rarity spent quite some time looking high and low for Sweetie Belle with absolutely no idea where her baby sister was. Sure, we know she was with Applejack the whole time, but Rarity didn't and knew it was all her fault Sweetie Belle ran off in the first place.
- Even if Rarity knew Sweetie Belle was safe (this is Ponyville, after all), she had reason to fear that she would be estranged from Sweetie Belle forever, after both sisters said some things that couldn't easily be unsaid.
- All Take and No Give: Applejack gently chides Rarity for acting this way towards Sweetie Belle. Realizing she has been acting this way (going against the spirit of her Element of Generosity) is what prompts Rarity to make amends.
- Angrish: Rarity's chief reaction to most of Sweetie Belle's actions.
- Art Evolution: Rarity's wet mane is a mix of deep blue and purple, not just purple like it was before.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Rarity wants to get away from Sweetie Belle earlier in the episode, but misses her later in the episode.
- Big "What?": Rarity, Applejack, and Apple Bloom consecutively when Sweetie Belle declares that she's adopting Applejack as her new big sister.
- Bottle Episode: Like "Look Before You Sleep", it may have been made to conserve the voice-acting budget, considering only three-sevenths of the mane cast appears.
- Breather Episode: After four episodes straight that were full of Nightmare Fuel, this one is surprisingly normal and less intense.
- Brief Accent Imitation: Sweetie Belle does this twice to mock Rarity.
- She's not too bad either. She must have an ear for speaking voices like she seems to have an ear for music.
- Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them: Rarity and Sweetie Belle both think they're better off without each other. Turns out they're not.
- Continuity Nod: Applejack's explanation of the meaning of "uncouth" shows that she still remembers a thing or two from her time in Manehattan.
- Cool Big Sis: Applejack. Rarity decides to become one at the end.
- Covered in Mud: Happens to Applejack during the race. Turns out that Rarity was hiding in the mud, and the two used this to let Rarity do the race without Sweetie Belle realizing it.
- Cuteness Proximity: Rarity goes from fuming over her ruined sweater to crooning over how darling Opal looks in it in a heartbeat.
- Complete with Baby Talk as well. "Ooh, Opal-Wopal! It's as if Sweetie Belle knew this would be perfect for YOU!"
- A Day in the Limelight: For Sweetie Belle.
- Empathic Environment: With the Book Ends, two birds are just standing next to each other at the beginning of the episode. At the end after Rarity and Sweetie Belle make up, the two birds are much closer together and are snuggling.
- Everypony Laughs Ending: Parodied with everypony laughing at Rarity's suggestion they celebrate her and Sweetie Belle making up with a visit to the spa:
Rarity: No, I...I'm serious.
- Eye Scream: Granny Smith really shouldn't have tried working a megaphone from her rocking chair.
- Eyes Never Lie/Fair Play Whodunnit: After the mudhole, the shape and color of the eyes of Sweetie Belle's partner is the only clue that another pony has taken Applejack's place.
- Feud Episode: Between Rarity and Sweetie Belle.
- Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Applejack and Apple Bloom do this briefly before the race.
- Full-Body Disguise: Rarity passes herself off as Applejack by wearing a cowboy hat and completely covering herself in mud.
- Furry Confusion: Applejack and Apple Bloom herd a flock of sheep into a pen, but before closing the gate:
Lamb: You could've just asked...
Sweetie Belle: Rarity will think [participating at the Sisterhooves Social] is an excellent idea!
Rarity: What a ridiculous idea.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry
- Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Rarity's father for vacation, complete with straw hat and Minnewegian accent; her mother wears the equally stereotypical tennis outfit.
- I Am Not My Father: Rarity's preference for glamour and fashion is in direct contrast to her parents' less classy tastes.
- Idiosyncratic Wipes: The montage sequence while Rarity and Sweetie Belle are composing their letter to Princess Celestia uses objects from each of the activities they are enjoying together to transition into the next scene, such as the clouds of smoke from Sweetie Belle's baking, laundry on the washing line, etc.
- I Have No Sister: Used, then inverted as Sweetie Belle declares AJ is her new sister.
- Irony: Although her status as the Element of Generosity is not specifically referenced, Rarity gets called out by Applejack about not giving (selflessly) very much in her "give and take" relation with Sweetie Belle.
- Apple Bloom asking what "uncouth" means while acting in the most uncouth manner possible.
Apple Bloom: *chomp chomp chomp* What's "uncouth"?
Applejack: It means uncivil. Y'know, bad-mannered?
Apple Bloom: **BELCH!**
- Rarity's "organized chaos".
- The Jimmy Hart Version: The music at the start of the race is a Jimmy Hart version of either Flat & Scruggs's "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" or "East Bound and Down" from Smokey and the Bandit. (They have such similar melodies, it's a little hard to tell which is meant, though the context of it being a race does tend to suggest "East Bound and Down".)
- Just Trying to Help: Sweetie Belle certainly had good intentions, but they never go right.
- Layman's Terms: Applejack, as she likens the relationship between sisters to apple pie.
- Also happens when Applejack explains the meaning of "uncouth" for the benefit of both Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle, with Apple Bloom as a perfect example.
- Lethal Chef: Sweetie Belle's breakfast is a uniform shade of charcoal. Even the liquids. She also somehow managed to liquefy and burn toast. And this is after her mother has given her lessons, implying either Sweetie is a really slow learner, Sweetie's cooking was even worse before, or that Rarity's mom is every bit as bad.
- She improves in the final scene, at least somewhat: even though she nearly sets the kitchen on fire again, she manages to produce a decent-looking pie.
- Mondegreen: "I didn't know you could burn juice" becomes hilariously horrifying if you think of it as a Stealth Pun.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Rarity, upon seeing and apparently for the first time actually paying attention to the contents of the drawing Sweetie Belle made of the two together, realizes how poorly she had been treating Sweetie.
- No OSHA Compliance: (Minor variant) Rarity's home isn't dangerous, but it's ridiculously unchild-proof! Many valuable and important things are left out where not only can Sweetie Belle get at them, but be attracted to them. Justified in that Sweetie Belle doesn't normally live with Rarity.
- Not Helping Your Case: When Rarity tries to convince her sister to come back, she offers things like teaching her how to cook her favorite dishes.
Sweetie Belle: You want me to go home with you so we can do what you want to do?
- Parental Abandonment: Averted for the first time in the show, if you don't count flashbacks (else we've also seen Twilight's and Pinkie's parents); we see Rarity's parents taking care of Sweetie Belle.
- Poor Communication Kills: Sweetie Belle means well, but without certain bits of information, (i.e. Do Not Wash That Sweater) her help continually backfires.
- Pun-Based Title: Sisterhooves Social to Sisterhood Social.
- Punctuated for Emphasis: "ONE. DAY."
- Rant-Inducing Slight: Rarity and Sweetie Belle are both pretty stressed out at each other well before they finally have their fight. Rarity's refusal to join in the Sisterhooves Social and Sweetie Belle's reaction to it are just the straw that broke the pony's back.
- Recycled Script: Intentionally or not, the episode's script bears a striking resemblance to the Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 episode "Oh, Brother!" in places.
- Red Pony, Blue Pony: While "Look Before You Sleep" already established the contrast between Applejack and Rarity, this episode shows that Sweetie Belle is the red to Rarity's blue.
- Rhetorical Question Blunder: After Sweetie Belle used the sapphires for her drawing:
Rarity: Sweetie Belle, what am I going to do with you?
Sweetie Belle: Oh, we can paint together, we can ride bikes, play chess, sing a song, catch frogs, Pillow Fight…
Rarity: That's not what I meant!
- Rule of Symbolism: Rarity acts more sisterly to Sweetie Belle following Applejack's apple pie metaphor (see Page Quote). Among the activities seen during the Friendship Lesson montage is the two successfully baking an apple pie together.
- Rule of Three: "ONE. DAY."
- Say My Name: "SWEETIE BELLLLE!"
- Schizo-Tech: Ponyville apparently has megaphones, but no washing machines or automatic dryers. Then again, necessity is the mother of invention; most ponies don't bother to wear clothes - even Rarity doesn't wear clothes on a regular basis - so it makes sense that washers and dryers wouldn't take off. Alternatively, Rarity primarily works with delicate fabric and probably prefers to hoof-wash everything.
- Second Place Is for Winners: Even if they didn't win, Rarity and Sweetie Belle bonded over their strong performance.
- Shout-Out: "As Celestia is my witness, I will never go sisterless again!"
- Appropriate, considering Rarity's enough of a drama queen to rival Scarlet O'Hara.
- Sidetracked by the Analogy: Rarity's reaction to the Apple Pie analogy delivered by Applejack at the top of the page. She still comes away with the correct message, though.
Rarity: But apart all we are is a pile of mush, and some crumbly dry mess.
- Sleep Mask: Worn by Rarity in the beginning of the episode.
- Super OCD: Rarity, particularly when she discovers that Sweetie Belle has cleaned up her "inspiration room" (normally kept a mess). On the other hoof, Sweetie Belle also seems to have some, even organizing paper clips in a row when she cleans this up.
- It's also equally likely that Sweetie Belle was just arranging the room to Rarity's usual standard.
- Talking in Your Sleep: The episode opens with Rarity apparently dreaming about feasting on carrot pancakes and apple cider. And then she smells the smoke.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Genre-savvy viewers know Rarity's plan will work because there's a commercial break before it's revealed.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Rarity's declaration that she's going to make things up to Sweetie Belle. See Shout-Out.
- Everyone else takes Rarity's declaration that they should celebrate at the spa as a joke. She's somewhat mystified as to why.