For once in Season 6, I actually don't know how I should feel about an episode. We've had a ton of bad and mediocre episodes, and one really good one, but this episode... I have absolutely no idea what to feel. Oh yeah, spoilers for Buckball Season. Click that there back button if you haven't watched the episode yet.
The first thing I want to address is the lack of Little Strongheart. A character who was advertised to appear in the episode ends up not appearing at all. I mean, what was the point of having her voice actress on her Wikipedia page say she voiced Little Strongheart in Buckball Season? Was the voice actress told she was going to be in the episode and then scrapped at the last second due to time constraints? On the one hoof, this episode has a strong ending, and feels similar to Flight to the Finish, which as you all may know is my all time favourite episode. Buckball seems to be a combination of Quidditch (As I said before) and american football, with some hints of soccer (the jerseys) and basketball.
Another pretty obvious problem with this episode is it's the exact same lesson as (you guessed it) Fall Weather Friends for Applejack and Rainbow Dash. Why did we need a repeat lesson for those two, especially given Applejack learned not to be focused on victory in The Last Roundup? And just as I, and GhostKaiba feared, it's an episode where Rainbow and Applejack take their competitive nature too far and push Fluttershy and Pinkie too hard. Is this a point against the episode? Maybe... I mean I didn't like that Spongebob episode "The Great Snail Race" also mentioned in Mega Sean's review of the episode where Spongebob does pretty much the same thing that Rainbow and Applejack do. But unlike that episode, it had a really good ending. I think Jenifer Skelly hasn't written for a Jerk With a Heart of Gold character before, as Rainbow was a little too harsh on Fluttershy in this episode, almost like this should be a S1 episode and not a S6 episode, like 28 Pranks Later before it. The difference between this and 28 Pranks Later? This episode has an amazing resolution. So let's stop talking about the minute details and actually dive right in.
The episode starts with Applejack bucking apples from a tree. (If you saw this scene without seeing the preview, you'd probably think Buckball involved Apple-bucking) Rainbow Dash flies up to Applejack and finds that she is practicing for the Buckball game against Appleloosa. (When exactly did Ponyville and Appleloosa get a sports rivalry again) In this scene we also get Applejack spitting on her hoof. Eww... is that supposed to be a tomboy thing or something, because I never saw Misty from Pokemon do that for example. I thought the spitting was kinda funny in No Second Prances when Rainbow Dash said "Spitfire" especially given Starlight as many of you know is most certainly not one of my favourite ponies.
The two round up Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy and decide to practice Buckball. There's a good joke about Rainbow Dash not knowing what "Buckball" is here, despite being an athlete who has presumably played every sport. We find out that Buckball is similar to Quidditch in that it is played by "roughly" three players and magic is involved. One thing that caught my attention right away was Granny Smith as the "practice referee". I mean, couldn't they have picked Twilight (this is under the assumption this episode took place after Dungeons and Discords, which would make it after The Times They Are A Changeling), Rarity (Creeper's gonna kill me for this) or Spike instead?
Well... maybe they wouldn't know how to play the sport, but Applejack could teach them, so I guess Granny Smith was probably their best bet if they didn't want to use Big Mac or Apple Bloom. But I digress.
We then find out not only can Fluttershy and Pinkie play Buckball, but also play very well. I mean wow. I was expecting them to be average but get amazing later on, but this was a nice surprise. Anyway, they have a bunch of unicorns practice and it seems hopeless in picking one. Until a buckball (which look an awful lot like dodgeballs) flies and Snails (seriously, who saw him of all ponies coming if you didn't see the preview) sends the balls back. After having found their team, Applejack and Rainbow Dash proceed to aggressively coach the three ponies in catching, bucking, and deflecting. This is the biggest issue with the episode as it goes under the false pretense that Rainbow Dash and Applejack haven't learned their lesson from Applebuck Season. It makes me wonder if some of these new writers even bother to watch all the old episodes and realize what lesson was learned then. Anyway, Rainbow Dash and Applejack make a ridiculous obstacle course (sound familiar?) that only they could do in a speedy and efficient manner, and they bark orders out at Fluttershy and Pinkie reminding them that "This is for Dash, Ponyville, The Apple Family's honour" and other commands. Snails seems to be trolling both Pinkie and Fluttershy by playing effortlessly. Eventually Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie start to hate the sport as expected and decide not to play, especially after finding out Applejack and Rainbow Dash told the entire town to cheer them on. (Again no mention of Spike, Twilight, or Rarity, which should make Creeperfan happy) They board the train, and after a heated exchange, Rainbow Dash and Applejack find the error of their ways and end up deciding to play in the game instead of them. Fluttershy says they could use practice, and they jump off the train so they can set up a buckball court to practice in. They find out why Snails is so good at Buckball as the catcher and the practice begins. Now that Pinkie and Fluttershy aren't under any pressure they do amazingly well and destroy Applejack and Rainbow Dash. This part makes me happy as the two decide to let Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie play in the match against Appleloosa after all.
At Appleloosa, the game begins (btw is it me or does the Appleloosan pegasus look like Bulk Biceps' sister? Let's call her Bertha Biceps.) we see Lucky Clover as a referee (I thought they weren't ever going to use this guy again) and the game ends up in a tie. When it seems like Appleloosa is going to win, they do. That's right, Ponyville actually doesn't win. They lose the game, disappointing all of Ponyville. Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie learn they are imperfect beings and realize that the true value of sports is to have fun and not worry about athletic achievements. Though, not the happiest ending, this ending teaches kids that it's ok to lose every now and then and still come out happy. And that, my friends is the true essence of-Nah, just kidding, Pinkie and Fluttershy win with the help of Snails. We also got to see Braeburn again and I was hoping we'd get to see other characters such as Little Strongheart.
So that's Buckball Season. How does it hold up? Well, to be frank, it's a fun ride all the way through and even though it suffers from Rainbow Dash and Applejack's aesop amnesia, it still felt like an honest attempt at both comedy and a compelling story. In the end, I'd rank it under Dungeons and Discords as my second favourite S6 episode, showing that I am not biased against the season at all.
02:15, September 4, 2016 (UTC)