MLP:FiM Episode Reviews: Character and Story Analysis by Half the Battle

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Episode 131: "The Cart Before the Ponies"

Aired 8/6/2016, story by Ed Valentine (his third episode); written by Ed Valentine & Mike Vogel (his fourth)
Quick Take: More excellent animation, fun ideas, a decent song, and strong humor keep this an enjoyable episode, that nevertheless seems to have developed a few problems. Of chief concern to me is that all the characters are off. It's not like the CMC to be so blindly trusting of their elders, and the older sisters are bizarrely self-absorbed and oblivious to the CMC's protests. Cheerilee's very present throughout the episode but totally blind to issues that ought to be her responsibility as supervisor of the race. I'm also bothered by what seems to be a carelessness with the logic of the story, with bad track design, and outcomes that don't have much to do with the actions of the main characters. One thing I do like about the story is the Crusaders' stated desire to branch out and try new things, drawing from the lessons of On Your Marks, rather than just ignoring their talents. This keeps the CMC from being flat characters, although their sisters end up one-dimensional instead. As for the lesson, I guess it's for one for the parents? I'm not sure what healthy message children are likely to take from it. I think the basic premise could have worked if the CMC were pairing up with other foals and learning to cooperate despite differing visions for their cars, or with the older sisters tempering over-the-top designs from the Crusaders to build a car that can race well and win in their desired category. As it stands, I place this about on the same level as Hearts and Hooves Day.

The Cart Before the Ponies armor rating: Leather Armor
Ranked 25th of 26 season-six episodes
Ranked 130th of 147 stories overall

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