My Little Pony: Somnambula (S02E11-12)

My Little Pony (Gen 1)
My Little Pony (Gen 1)

Title: Somnambula

Summary: BIG BROTHER PONIES ARE BACK, A’RIGHT! For not knowing they existed, the Ponies sure missed them. Oh, but an evil sorceress has other plans for the Ponies. And not a Megan in sight to save everypony. But there’s cages, literal and metaphorical!

Grade: C+ (I know. I’m shocked, too.)

Initial Thoughts:

Ahhhhhh. It’s been a lovely vacation from Ponyland, apart from adding commentary to Dove’s recaps because it wouldn’t be fun to recap if we didn’t have a partner to suffer through this miserable series with. But anyway, I liked my break and now we get to the episode I’ve been excited about (yeah, I know, I’m shocked, too, again): Somnambula!

[Present bat: Oh god, of course I wrote all that before Covid-19 hit and the world immediately went to hell in a hand basket. Believe me, I did enjoy not having to write recaps and just kicking back to write commentary. Otherwise, my “vacation” has not been that enjoyable.]

My Little Pony: The Epic Recap SeriesFirstly, I’m going to tear into that title. “Somnambula” is not an actual word. Just like 99% of this cartoon is entirely implausible, even the non-magical stuff like Megan riding the Ponies, it’s not a legit word. I have researched words before that have come out of the MLP universe so why would this be a different case? After Google was no help, I turned to the dictionary, which suggested “somnambulate” as “somnambula” (as it is spelled) is a made up nonsense word.

Or is it?

Let’s go with… someone on the writers team deciding that no 5 year old will understand there’s titles of these episodes, let alone that the titles mean anything. I honestly, for many many years, did not know episodic television had episode titles. I just referred to them as “that one with Gusty” or “the time Bart went to a Shelbyville because of a lemon tree”. It wasn’t until I started collecting DVDs of television shows that, oh my god, there’s actual titles for these episodes?!

It’s weird because the episode titles are clearly shown on My Little Pony ‘n Friends but I’ll be damned if I remember anything clearly beyond “Escape from Catrina”.

I digress. So, let’s investigate “somnambulate”. By definition it is a verb that means “to walk during sleep; sleepwalk.” Somn(us) is Latin for sleep and ambulate means walking, so I’m right there with you, dictionary. But what the hell does this have to do with this episode? Did the writers actually come up with a storyline that will dazzle me and make up up for the other failures? Will they yet again botch their own concept and misuse a word they’ve also mangled into a fake word that won’t remotely convey their goal? Let’s find out!

Oh, and this episode features the Big Brother Ponies. Never mentioned before and, seemingly, never mentioned nor seen again. I’ve always been partial to draft horses – Clydesdales particularly (I got to sit on the wagon at a county faire when the Budweiser Clydesdales were on hand when I was ~4 or so, freaked my mom out because I was so high up, there’s a photo somewhere) – and I grew up around open farmland where just down the road were a couple of pairs of (generic) draft horses that spent their days in open fields looking quite majestic. So anyway, I was super excited when Hasbro threw the Big Brothers toy line into the mix.

FWIW, Salty is my A-#1 favorite Big Brother, followed by Barnacle and Wigwam in the second spot, and Tex at #3. I think it’s because they had hats? I dunno. I’ve always been more partial to hats then hair ribbons. OH AND THE BANDANAS OH MY GOD YESSSSSS. I never had any of the UK Mountain Boy (…I never understood that name, Dove, explain?) Ponies, though I’ve always wanted an Ice Crystal. A woman can dream, though. [Dove: Tex was the first Big Brother I bought – I love yellow ponies, and I like to believe he’s related to Floater, and possibly distantly related to G4’s Applejack. I do have Ice Crystal, he was my first purchase that announced I had moved from “I have a few ponies” to “I am a Collector with a capital C”. One day I’ll see him for a good price again and bat will have her dream.] [bat: Some day the secondary market on Ponies will bottom out and I can foresee Dove swooping in all “THAT’S FOR BAT HANDS OFF!” And I will treasure it forever.]

[Dove: As for actual initial thoughts, this is the only episode I definitely remember seeing as a child. I watched the hell out of the movie but the TV show didn’t really air over here (or if it did, it was on sky, not regular TV), and despite the overwhelming popularity of the toy line, it wasn’t a video you saw often. TV shows on VHS weren’t very popular because all the mums agreed (I remember hearing this conversation over and over) that it was a rip-off to rent or buy a tape with only one or two episodes on. But I did rent the show at least once and it was this episode. This episode inspired a lot of my storylines when I played, and because Strawberry Fair (Sugarberry outside the UK) was my favourite, she got to be the lead role. This led me to thinking she was in this episode. The disappointment is crushing. Even now. Also, who doesn’t love a theme park episode?]


Part 1:

*zones out during the opening theme sequence*

Oh yeah, right, recapping. Do your job, bat.

We open on a cloudy blue sky day, Paradise Estate now sitting on the bluff of a cliff, a cliff that overlooks what, who knows and who cares, Paradise Estate magically moves to where ever PLOT SAYS SO each episode.

Truly is looking forward to some hot lovin’, Big Brother style!

Zooming in on the matte painting, we move to the front (?) gates swinging open as Ponies run out, laughing and giggling. Some have balloons. “We’ve got to get these banners and bows and balloons and things up!” Truly announces. Huh? Oh never mind. “The Big Brother Ponies are comin’ home!”

So basically Truly is a good Southern woman welcome the troops into town for some good ol’ R&R. This makes me well and truly (HA) laugh, because Dove has pointed out that the Ponies “reproduce” by magic mirror, not through reproductive sex as all other animals. They don’t need male Ponies, er, “Big Brother Ponies”, to have children, because they just clone themselves into miniature versions and instantly neglect them. [Dove: I hold on to the theory that if you want a new pony, rather than a baby clone of whoever looked into the mirror, you need to breed them. Like, Baby Lucky. There’s no adult of him. Maybe Quarterback or Tornado is his father, and… um… Bow-Tie is his mom?]

Think about it: we’ve only ever been introduced to male characters who aren’t Ponies during this series. Spike the goddamn dragon and the Moochick (and the Rabbit) are the only really the only males the Ponies interact with on a regular basis. Well, yes, there was Danny, but he’s gone now, YEET’d from the series without even so much as a goodbye. So where the fuck are these “Big Brother” Ponies coming from? IS THE STORY GOING TO TELL US?? LET’S FIND OUT!


I will sum this up for you: every Pony is helping to decorate while Truly sings that the Big Brother Ponies have been away for a year. Why? WHY HAVE THEY BEEN GONE, YOU ASK? They’ve been “racing around the world”. THAT’S IT. NO REAL REASON. NONE. JUST RACING.

Gusty falls off the roof, lands in a pile of blown up balloons, doesn’t pop a single one, yet a single red balloon lands on the tip of her horn and pops. Now. There is no fucking way her horn is sharp; every single horn is drawn rounded over and blunt. Starting the shenanigans early, huh, art directors?

BACK TO THE SONG: the Big Brother Ponies are described as “bold – brave – strong” but now it’s changed from a year to being away “so long”. HOW ABOUT AS THEY’VE NEVER BEEN AROUND PERIOD? BECAUSE UNTIL THEY WERE A TOY LINE, THEY DIDN’T EXIST.

Oh my god, the Ponies are raising the actual finish line. Which makes me question if they raised the starting line a “year” ago as well. But with the amount of moving Paradise Estate makes on the regular, how do we truly (HA) know this to be the real finish line?? [Dove: Also, if it takes a year and they’re all side by side, traveling as a team, is it really a race? Isn’t it more of a gap year?] [bat: It must be the Big Brother Pony version of Rumspringa.]

“Very soon we’ll be in touch.” Wow. Truly will be at the head of the line for that.

For some reason, though they weren’t seen at the start of the episode, the Baby Ponies just raised the poles and sign for the finish line, as the larger Ponies step in behind them in the shot to differentiate size difference. Or maybe not, how the fuck can anyone tell who’s what from that final shot?!

Paradise thinks the Big Brothers might be late. HOW YOU WOULD KNOW? HOW DOES TIME (AND MAGIC) WORK IN PONYLAND? Well that’s set off Posey, who’s afraid something’s happened to them. My god, if only you were this regularly worried about your own miniature clones!

So Lofty is going to be the bitch in this episode. She chews Paradise and Posey out, insisting the BBs will be here, all right!

I don’t know why the animators thought it funny to show Buttons repeatedly pounding a hammer into the stucco-covered side of Paradise Estate in effort to nail bunches of balloons to the side of the building, but here we are, watching it for the second (third?) time. Buttons moves to pick up a box crammed full of nails, when Surprise runs up behind her, yelling, “Surprise!” Is Surprise supposed to be Ponyland’s version of the Joker? Because I feel like that’s where this is going.

Are we witnessing the rise of the Joker Pony and BatPony?

Nails fly everywhere, popping balloons. “Wasn’t that a good surprise?” I’m shocked Buttons doesn’t stuff a hoof-ful of nails into Surprise’s mouth. She instead demands Surprise help her fix all the “surprised” balloons. Shockingly, Surprise looks remorseful and dutifully picks up a hammer to help.

That’s when the carnival music kicks in. Did… did we all drop acid suddenly?

Nope, not imagining it. The camera pans right, towards the bushes/trees, then we “dive” through them, to an open field, where calliope music plays. An ox, yoked and hitched to what would be considered a gypsy-style trailer, is in the field. A mysterious figure cloaked in a red robe stands beside the trailer, only their hands uncovered. Like, this is the shittiest attempt to mask an identity yet. [Dove: SHADOW WEAVER???] The masked figure raises her hands and speaks, revealing herself to be female (at least by voice) and the music grows louder.

“IT SOUNDS LIKE A CIRCUS!” So today we’ve learned that calliope/circus music is catnip to Ponies. I’m betting that vans with “FREE CANDY” spray painted on them would also work on Ponies.

The red robed figure removes a bird cage from the back of the trailer, a huge yellow bird inside. The robed figure demands Keri sing. “No, Saint Ambula!” Keri the fat yellow not Tweety bird cries. Saint Ambula threatens the bird with a glowing hand. Keri begins to sing but the music doesn’t match her beak movements. What comes out sounds quite similar to Lucy’s Lullaby from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, to the point I’m freaking out. (Vampires and Ponies?!? Stop trying to combine things I like!) [Dove: I still think you and I should do an epic fanfic. Let’s just borrow the characters, the world, make it make sense and attach a story that’s good?]

The music makes the Ponies’ heads droop and they fall immediately under its spell. The only one not affected is Spike, who tries to physically stop the Ponies but Lofty easily knocks him out of the way. Spike continues to beg them to stop and remember the party but now there’s a huge jump cut with a music change and we’re back to an overview of Paradise Estate.

Oh, it’s just the backside of Paradise Estate, where Truly is wearing the band costume (BUY OUR MERCH) and playing the tuba while other Ponies stand around not wearing costumes but playing various musical instruments. I love that all the wind instruments are held up on stands because Ponies don’t have hands. Also, since they don’t have hands, how can there be any actual music beyond breath being blown into instruments??


The Ponies begin to play again, Truly really giving the tuba a go, and this seems to protect them from Keri’s siren song. Hm.

Over in the open field beyond the trees, quite a few Ponies have gathered by the trailer. Saint Ambula puts Keri back inside the trailer. She pulls down her hood, but before she does, we see a crude transition where her hands grow young and her face – now revealed – goes from wizened old hag to youthful Ursula in disguise dark-haired woman. “I feel better already!”

“We thought we heard a circus.” Paradise talks in a robotic monotone.

“We can go there if you like!” the witch smiles and raises her hands, shooting out bright white “magic” beams, which arc across and along the empty space until they create what I am suspecting to be an illusion of a medieval castle with town but which also has a huge roller coaster. What is this, Medieval Times but with amusement rides??

“We can go there if you like!” Like, do the Ponies have a choice? You have them under some weird ass bird song spell, Saint Ambula! Speaking of, Ambula gets up on the bench seat of the trailer, a huge leather whip in hand, and tells the Ponies they just have to follow her. Uh huh. REMEMBER WHEN THIS EPISODE WAS ABOUT THE BIG BROTHER PONIES COMING HOME FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A YEAR??

Big Brother Ponies are paint-by-number clones.

Oh shit, speaking of!

Over a random hill, a cloud of dust raises, the stomping of hooves heard in the otherwise silent Land of Pony. Then the Big Brothers are shown, all laughing in a Stepford Wives-esque way – WOW this is fucking creepy – and now they’re galloping down a hill at breakneck speed but holding conversations. [Dove: The giggling. Even the boys giggle. For fuck’s sake.]

Quarterback and Steamer (worst name ever) [Dove: I would point out that Salty exists and his UK name is Tug. Also, Floater and Morning Glory.] taunt each other, while 4-Speed tells Salty they’re going to see Paradise Estate soon. I HAVE QUESTIONS. Paradise Estate was given to the Ponies as a new home, by the Moochick in the titular film. Big Brothers were never seen in any of the pre-movie specials or the feature film. Then, there’s some weird retcon on the back card of Paradise’s packaging, which states:

Paradise was taking a walk through the forest in search of hidden places when she noticed a crumbled piece of paper under a tree. “What are all these lines and arrows?” she wondered as she unfolded the paper. She raced back to show North Star. “It’s a map – let’s follow it!” North Star exclaimed. North Star grabbed her compass and led the way. The two friends traveled over hills, through a valley and up, up, up to the sky. “Look – a mansion,” Paradise said dreamily as they arrived at their destination. They flew down for a closer look. It was the most breathtaking place Paradise had ever seen. “It even has a pool and a diving board,” she said gleefully. North Star had an idea. “Let’s call it the PARADISE ESTATE!” Paradise was thrilled and couldn’t wait to show the others her latest discovery.


Also: I refuse to believe that North Star owns a compass, let alone uses it, and secondly that she would give all credit to Paradise and name a seemingly abandoned mansion after her. The Ponies are either illegal squatters or legal home owners, if you choose the Moochick gift version.



Wow, did the writers of MLP:FiM do their research and throw this in as a callback or what? Because I’m simultaneously creeped out and amazed. [Dove: I believe that Lauren Faust at least did. She was a super fan back in the day. Not sure how much re-watching she did, but she definitely loved the original line in a very deep way.]

Holy… oh yeah, I forgot. Slugger is hot for Buttons. Not a pairing I was expecting. [Dove: But they’re the same colour! Obviously they’re in love.] Tex hopes Buttons “loosens” Slugger’s tongue. Oh gag with me a spoon. Okay well, he actually said he hopes Buttons improves Sluggers “talkin’ ability” but SAME THING.

In the space of this whole conversation, the ink and paint department went from the weird ass copy cat clones of the Big Brothers to painting them as easily identifiable versions of the toys. This is weirding me out.

The Big Brother Ponies all cross the finish line together. Whatever. Salty immediately yells, “Blow me down!” as if he’s Popeye or something. Also, there’s weird size issues in this scene but I think they meant to imply distance between the Big Brothers but it comes off as a continuity error.

Immediately the Big Brothers, who aren’t remotely breathless or tired from “running around the world” notice the Ponies are MIA. Tex thinks maybe they forgot the Big Brothers were returning. Well, I would think that maybe the fact there’s balloons and a giant FINISH line sign means someone knew but also, how did the Ponies and the Big Brothers communicate during the year-long (or more?) absence? HOW DOES THE MAIL SYSTEM WORK IN PONYLAND?

Slugger insists that Buttons would not forget him (??) and Quarterback assumes the Ponies are playing a gag on them and this just a sloppy surprise party. A) I’m already sick of Slugger’s crush on Buttons and B) every time 4-Speed opens his mouth and talks, Spike’s voice comes out, which is throwing me off.

Okay, I don’t know how to describe this, but the Big Brothers’ manes look like sculpted hairdos crossed between mullets and a 50s greaser “duck tail”. It’s HILARIOUS but also making me think of how much this was revived during the 80s.

The Big Brothers wander inside Paradise Estate but, of course, nothing happens. Quarterback even goes so far to say, “There’s something seriously wrong here.” GEE NO SHIT, SHERLOCK. They wander clear through the estate, finding no one, and out the back, where they decide the estate is “abandoned” when suddenly, Truly screeches, “YOU’RE HERE!” Which causes all the Big Brothers to fall down in shock. [Dove: That’s not hyperbole. They literally fell over.]

Apparently, Spike did not wander off with the other Ponies and went back to tell Truly, who seems to be the only adult Pony left, among the group of Baby Ponies. When inquired of, Spike tells the Big Brothers the Ponies heard the “sounds of a circus” before Truly interrupts to say the Ponies wandered off. “Like they were in some kind of trance,” Spike adds. Spike also points out he was immune to the song.

OH SHIT, IT’S BABY TALK AGAIN, DOVE. [Dove: Be thankful. Ice Cream Wars was an entire episode of baby talk, crying and giggling. Just power through it!]

Baby Lofty mangles a sentence, chiming in that she heard the music but “me no go.” Well, so we can deduce that the music only works on adult Ponies, not Baby Ponies or baby dragons. Or Truly, for some reason. Probably because Truly is in season and needs that sweet, sweet, Big Brother lovin’. Oh, she’s magically ditched the Band Leader outfit.


Hold up, wait a minute, when did the voice actor for 4-Speed change and suddenly the Big Brother has a shitty Philly/New York accent??? DAMN IT, ALL I ASK IS FOR A TINY MODICUM OF CONSISTENCY, PEOPLE.

Quarterback is basically the de-facto leader. Great. He rears up and orders Truly (the Baby Ponies and Spike) stay put while the Big Brothers go find the Ponies.

“They’re just so dashing,” CAN IT, BABY HEARTTHROB. [Dove: Are they though? They’re not doing anything other ponies haven’t done. Hell, even Megan can be bossy and run. Admittedly, she’s more likely to hop on a pony’s back, but occasionally she does run. I think pony standards are very low.]

Over… else where… that’s not really honestly explained or makes sense… WHY WOULD IT EVER MAKE SENSE??! Saint Ambula locks a cuff around a Pony’s leg, chaining her to… something? We have no idea what, there’s no walls, no nothing to attach that chain to. But anyway, Ambula is crowing in victory, talking about her powers growing and how she can make all “this” – a hazy overlay of the fake Medieval Times Land hovers in the background to show it’s an illusion while a herd of Ponies wander around in a daze – reality.

The next scene greatly confuses me. Cupcake wanders into what looks like a industrial-sized kitchen. She gasps and there’s a sound effect and now a voice over talking about a kitchen. Next, Posey wanders towards what looks like a trellis-gate into a garden. Again, a sound effect and the image becomes solid, causing Posey to gasp in wonder. The same voice over, announce this is the “gardener’s delight” as Posey runs through the shot, her mouth agape. She comes upon a huge display of seeds, immediately picking up a scoop in her mouth before running around, throwing seeds everywhere. [Dove: Because that’s what a wonderfully tended garden looks like. Random flowers all over the place.]

Okay, I get it, they’re all under this enchantment spell, where whatever they love is offered in a never-ending supply.

We were somewhere around Barstow when the drugs began to take hold.

Lickety-Split wanders into her mental dreamscape looking as though she’s dropped a hella lot of acid. She ends up in a massive ice cream parlor where robotic arms assemble all sorts of ice cream treats. “I’ll have one of each!” She demands. I wonder, do imaginary calories pack on imaginary pounds?

The sun is setting. The Big Brothers have wandered… who knows how far… in whatever direction… MAPS OF PONYLAND DO NOT EXIST. Slugger is lamenting that they’ve followed the Ponies’ tracks “all day” (WHAT IS TIME HOW DOES IT WORK) and I’m sure he’s especially bitter because he hasn’t seen his boo, Buttons, yet.

Holy shit, we actually see… well I can’t call it a sunset. The “light” changes from LIGHT STILL IN THE SKY to WELP IT’S DARK AND THERE’S SOME DOTS IN THE SKY THAT PASS FOR STARS.

Meanwhile, the Ponies are trapped in the semi-imaginary carnival, which now has tents and circus lights and what could be a roller coaster [Dove: “Hey, look! A Dungeons & Dragons ride!], and some creepy robot clowns (??) floating above it, while shadows of Ponies dance on the tent walls. I just suddenly realized a great thought: what if the Boardwalk was all an illusion used by vampires to lure prey? OKAY Dove will know what I’m referencing but this is neither the time nor the place. [Dove: Let’s loop back to that though.]

Apparently fake Medieval Times Land resides on a cliff? (God this show loves its fucking cliffs and plateaus and plains and meadows and ugh) And underground, in… well, I guess it’s a cave? I mean we can see into it but that honestly makes no sense… anyway, Ambula is ordering Keri to sing, again. Keri whimpers that it’s not right but Ambula’s hand glows threateningly (??) and she insists she has the power to make her illusions real now.

Momentary pause. Remember how I was bitching about Somnambula not being a real word? Well, we now know the villainess is named Saint Ambula, so I wanna get back to that. I tried gooling “som”, which only netted me the definition of “standard monetary unit of Kyrgyzstan”, so that’s right the fuck out. “Ambula”, which in theory could be short for “ambulatory, defined as “of, relating to, or capable of walking”, makes sense. So, basically, this is a shitty retelling of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. You know, the one about the dude who lured all the rats out of town during a plague but was stiffed on payment, so in revenge he lured all the village children away from the town into the river where they drowned? That one.

In some versions one to three of the children survive to tell the adults what happened. One is lame and cannot keep up, one is deaf and cannot hear the pipe music, and one is blind and therefore cannot follow the group. This sort of explains why the Baby Ponies did not go. But, as always, I am suspect of what shitty explanation the writers of this cartoon will give as the reason for why the Baby Ponies (and Spike) were immune to Keri’s singing. [Dove: Duh. Because they’re boys. Boys aren’t silly like girls. Boys must rescue girls, therefore girls must be weak and easily led astray and boys must be immune to silliness. Obv. (And the babies are pointless. Nobody needs them. Even though if you want to steal youth, the younger the victim the more youth they have. But fuck logic.)]

Back to the cartoon. Ambula zaps Keri’s cage, shrinking it until Keri is crammed within its restricting confines, though we can’t really see shit because it’s a big ball of white light hurting my eyes. Keri relents and the cage is either still too small or Keri grew (this is not the first time animators have failed to properly size something in this cartoon) and yet again, it’s Lucy’s Lullaby. This is just creepy AF. Please tell me I am not imagining this super weird coincidence, Dove! [Dove: Nope. This was actually creepy.]

Everyone’s asleep in Paradise Estate but as soon as Keri sings, Truly is immediately overtaken and begins to run away towards the singing. Why are the Baby Ponies not in beds? Or cribs? Why are they haphazardly sleeping on the couch and Spike curled up in the chair? Apparently Truly’s OUTRAGEOUSLY LOUD CLIP CLOPPING wakes Spike, who screams her name and calls the Baby Ponies to action. Spike grabs her tail, Baby Cuddles has Spike’s tail in her mouth, and every Baby Pony subsequently has the prior Baby Pony’s tail in her mouth, in a grotesque game of tug of war (or Pony Centipede, if you will.)

When you’re in the club and the beat drops.

The spell has hit Truly, well, truly. She slips Spike’s grasp with the aid of a helpfully placed bush that knocks him lose, sending him crashing into a pile of Baby Ponies. Okay, the freeze frames on this are cracking me up. Spike is utterly over-dramatic and the Baby Ponies are a static pile of mayhem. Thanks, animators, I sorely needed that laugh.

Truly gallops away, enchanted. Bummer. She missed out on that hot Big Brother lovin’ she was yammering on about. Well, that is the Big Brothers’ faults, they ran off to “find” the Ponies.


Oh never mind, the singing apparently now effects the Big Brothers as well. Nearly as one, they all arise from sleep and run towards Keri’s song. What the fuck.

“Ohhhh nooooooo!” Spike wails, still running after the adult Ponies. He insists they have to break the trap somehow. And now, in a moment of utter plot says so, there’s fucking snow. And the rock cliffs are back. And the Baby Ponies have manged to roll a massive, perfectly round snowball to push off said cliff. Which they do, in perfect timing for the snowball to smash atop the Big Brother Ponies and suffocate them to death in order to awaken them from the trance.

Spoiler: it works.

“What in the Sam Hill?!” Tex yells, as soon as he and the other Big Brothers surface easily from their snowy prison. Spike and the Baby Ponies mosey down the hill to answer questions. Apparently now the Big Brothers aren’t affected by the singing though they can clearly hear it. Baby Lofty espouses what we already know, but through baby talk: the singing makes the Adult Ponies “act stwange”. And in the middle of it all, Slugger’s eye pins wide open and he takes off, back in a trance. The other Big Brothers? They’re fine. Questioning where the singing is coming from. One of them turns around and realizes Slugger has taken off, and that’s when we see Truly is just ahead of Slugger, walking through a projection of a huge, ornate set of doors set into the mountainside. [Dove: Isn’t that the door the fairy tale people live behind?]

Why the animators were so cheap and made everypony and Spike run in super slow motion just to save frames and build suspense is beyond me. We all know distance is not a real construct in Ponyland. Although Truly has gone through the “doors”, Slugger somehow has stopped of his own accord, standing there in a daze as everypony surrounds him. Pretty soon all the Big Brothers have their angry eyes on and clop towards the “doors”, but suddenly the “doors” are outlined in glowing magic to reveal… what the hell, is that a rip off of the entrance to Castle Greyskull????


Part 2:

Thank the gods I don’t have to sit around a week or a day or however long it was between the airing of new episodes, because that was a real bad cut made for the DVD. Like, we didn’t even get to look at what the “doors” turned into before it went to black and the end credit sequence rolled. It looked like a snout of an animal with fangs, but also a doorway. Okay.

I guess it’s supposed to be a deterrent to the Big Brothers but, no?

Picking up not remotely where we left off, someone in the art department decided to get artsy and design the region with a little more care. A dead tree, some grassy hill… yeah. And now the skull that surrounds the door/gate is clearly a background matte painting. There’s even a bar on the door, though why it’s on the outside – where it can clearly be removed – is beyond me.

Um, his name is Quarterback, not “Score-er”, what the hell?


Tex orders the Baby Ponies (and Spike) to head back to the hills to stay safe. The Baby Ponies practically fall all over themselves (and Spike) as if in a heart-wrenching panic to flee. How strange.

The door grew 50 times its size in a single shot. Are the Big Brothers shrinking?

In yet another example of HOW DOES SIZE AND CONTINUITY AND SCALE WORK?? the door, door handle, and the metal bar across it are now PONY-SIZED, because Quarterback leaps up onto it and totally fits. Sure. SURE, SURE, SURE, SURE.

I just realized, as I was going through tags, Megan is not there. The Big Brothers are now a replacement stand-in and have taken charge, just as Megan would, since the Ponies can’t go a single episode without getting into trouble / kidnapped / magically assaulted / etc.

Three of the Big Brothers stack themselves and Tex is totally strong enough to push the bar on the door back, even though it’s (probably) solid steel and weighs 9 billion pounds. Remember how last episode the door was an illusion but now it’s suddenly solid? WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?

“Now that’s what I call teamwork!” Quarterback quips, after he bounces on the handle and opens the door a crack, before falling on a pile of his friends. GUYS! I THINK I FOUND THE MORAL / MESSAGE OF THE EPISODE! [Dove: Teamwork makes the dream work, bat.]

Welcome to Atlantic City, New Jersey!

The door just swings wide open and the Big Brothers look upon a vast expanse of… towers? Lights? There’s some pennant flags on those poles? What happened to the big white medieval castle? I think that’s a roller coaster at the bottom there???


4-Speed has retained his New York / Philly / Jersey accent – hilariously fitting – but now he’s clearly voiced by the same dude who voices Spike, again. It’s super weird. Anyway, I guess Ambula has drained the Ponies enough to make this… carnival wonderland solid and real, because the Big Brothers are wandering through it, even if it’s a terrible background matte painting. [Dove: But why? If they’re already trapped, why waste magical energy on the illusion? Why not just feed it into keeping you young and powerful?]

They happen upon what looks like some kind of faux Southern plantation great house, complete with white pillars and portico, where Truly is. Quarterback yells to her but when we zoom in closer, Truly has aged. Like, saggy skin, wrinkles, fuzzy mane and tail. Uh oh.

Just then Lickety-Split gallops through the group of Big Brothers. Amazingly, although she is terribly aged just like Truly, the Big Brothers recognize her. I guess we found the purpose of Cutie Marks! They try to talk to her but she yells she needs more ice cream.

Without explanation, the Big Brothers find a huge stage where Heartthrob is performing the Dance of the Seven Single Veil(s) but it’s not remotely like the genie / harem costume I remember being sold for the toys. (BUY OUR MERCH.) They call out to her by name but Heartthrob insists she is Salome, one of the “greatest lovers in history!” [Dove: She’s a stripper/sex worker. No shade on either profession, but is this appropriate for this kids’ cartoon?]

No amount of Juvederm is going to fix Heartthrob’s face.

The Big Brothers ask if she knows them but Heartthrob just complains they’re ruining her performance. Quarterback has had enough. He runs up and rips the mask off her face, revealing…

Oh god.

Well, that’s seriously unfortunate. Quarterback commits a sin and yells that Heartthrob is “so old”. Heartthrob counters she is fine and demands they leave, she “wants to be alone”. Oh lord, now they’re not only making a Greta Garbo reference but they’ve also botched it. She never said that, she said “I want to be let alone!”

The Big Brothers move on – why? Why not put up a fight and try to get the Ponies out of there?! – and find a gingerbread house. Or at least a giant poorly painted sign that reads that, and what could theoretically be a gingerbread house. Gingerbread is actually standing outside it and turns so the Big Brothers can see her and HOLY SHIT SHE’S WORSE OFF THAN HEARTTHROB. The Big Brothers collectively gasp before we fade back to where they immediately entered this nightmare park, though the ‘ticket’ sign has been fixed this time but the terrifying clown thing remains the same.

OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE, SLUGGER, WE DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT BUTTONS. I’d make a joke about Pony blue balls but I’m more focused on getting through this episode. “That gal’s face looked like forty miles of bad road.” THANK YOU, TEX.

Oh, god, I just realized Salty is voiced by the same voice actor who voiced Leonardo in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Quarterback, still the de-facto leader, insists they have to get the Ponies out of the nightmare and not let another stop them. Sure. Go ahead, I’ll wait and watch you fail.

Oh! A convenient earthquake happens! A massive split in the ground opens up, a plume of fog (smoke?) streams out, a sound effect plays, and there’s… what looks like a 4×4 truck when someone doesn’t know how to draw a 4×4 truck. 4-Speed is all over this. The same sound effect plays and a couple of baseball bats, gloves, and a baseball appear. Slugger stares in astonishment, all thoughts of Buttons gone. Now there’s a goddamn corral with three sad looking cattle and a barn / ranch house with a fence encircling it. Now there’s a random train chugging down endless tracks! That-that one is super weird? AND A TUG BOAT! AND NOW A WHOLE FOOTBALL FIELD!


“Wait a minute, guys, this isn’t right!” Quarterback realizes these offerings are too perfect. Yet you can’t also distinguish they’re illusions?


The train goes from having a single spotlight “eye” to a pair of “eyes”. That’s fucking creepy. If only it was Thomas the Tank Engine. Basically, we see some of the Big Brothers buying into the fantasies they’ve been given – I really want to see 4-Speed drive that 4×4 truck with hooves! [Dove: Especially if it’s a stick shift, which you would assume it is.] – while others drag them back to “reality”. I guess Quarterback remaining levelheaded is self-explanatory, him being the de-factor leader / savior of this episode, but the only way to explain Slugger is… blue balls.

Song ends.

Down in the cave(?) underground(?) Ambula views all this via a brightly glowing crystal ball. She realizes the illusions aren’t enough to tempt the Big Brothers so she moves in on Keri, who begs not to be made to sing. She, and her cage, are back to normal size again. She insists that what Amubla is doing is evil. Ambula says stuff about having her youth back and new powers, before she zaps Keri, demanding she sing.

There’s no vehicles in Ponyland. HOW DOES HE KNOW HOW TO DRIVE?

Quarterback yells for the other Big Brothers to not listen to Lucy’s Lullaby but they don’t listen. I’m having this weird mix of Keanu Reeves being seduced and fed upon by the brides of Dracula only if they were Big Brother and Ponies. This is wrong, brain, stop it. It’s too late; Steamer hops into Thomas the Tank Engine and Tex (oh god, is that the same voice actor who voiced Raphael?!) starts a round up of those sad looking cattle. 4-Speed is in the cab of that 4×4 truck! Salty is sailing on his tugboat! And Slugger is up at bat!

Annnd there’s Quarterback, hugging the football under his chin (awkward) and charging down the field to make a touchdown. WELL SO MUCH FOR SELF-AWARENESS AND SAVING THE PONIES. [Dove: Also, he counts, “He’s at the 40 line, the 50 line, etc.,” while the lines go in the exact opposite order. A+ animation/voice work combo!]

Ambula watches through her crystal ball and cackles a standard evil villainess laugh before she opens a conveniently placed actual door in the rock wall (??) and leaves the room (? cave?) Keri decides now is the time to act and begins to flap her wings. I guess since the cage keeps changing size but seems to have stabilized at this moment in the cartoon, Keri has enough space to flap her wings and somehow knock / tip the cage over and onto the ground. Sure.

And now the cartoon wants me to believe she broke open the heavy-padlocked door of said cage, crumpling the frame and the padlock GOING ENTIRELY MISSING and the door popping open but the cage has shunk again, making it difficult for Keri to get out of. She’s, like, bobbing up and down. What the hell.

Oh god. She just opened her eyes and realized she was free. Well. Keri is also stupid.

Convenient escape plot is convenient.


Outside of the huge cave… mountain… whatever… Spike and the Baby Ponies are just chilling. I guess what else can they do, they’re basically useless this episode. I distinctly remember there being a lot more Baby Ponies – Baby Gusty and Baby Ribbon were there last episode – but we’re down to three: Baby Lofty, Baby Heartthrob, and Baby Cuddles.

In fact, it is Baby Heartthrob who notices Keri flapping her wings furiously in over to fly over the sudden mountain range and escape Ambula. Everypony calls and waves her over. Keri hovers (?) while Spike asks if she sees the Ponies. “They’re in there, playing.” OH THAT’S BULLSHIT. YOU KNOW YOUR SINGING PUTS CREATURES INTO A TRANCE YET THAT’S ALL THE INFORMATION YOU GIVE? YOU’RE JUST AS FUCKING COMPLICIT IN THIS, KERI.

Oh, sorry, got ahead of the scene. Keri explains they’ve been captured by the evil witch (sorceress sounds better) Ambula who “takes youth and gives back age”. Um. That is an awkward sentence. What about “drains youth which ages you”? MAKES A LITTLE MORE SENSE. Oh my god LAND ON SOMETHING, KERI, ALL THIS HOVER FLAPPING IS NOT NATURAL.

Spike and Baby Lofty ask if Keri can break the trance. “I guess I could sing a different song but I’m not going back there!” WAY TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY AND UNDO THE WRONG YOU’VE BEEN A PARTY TO, KERI. Who knew I’d hate this bird character the most out of this whole episode. There’s a perfect moral the story writers missed: TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS WHEN THERE’S CONSEQUENCES FOR OTHERS.

Why does Baby Lofty beg Keri to help rescue their friends? Aren’t the adult Ponies their mothers??

Keri, overcome by annoyance, agrees to help but the Baby Ponies and Spike have to go with her. SMASH WIPE (that’s a new one) to inside the dreamscape. No showing how they got in through the magic’d gate, we’re just BAM right there. Ugh.

When you’ve got a Fakie in your collection and it’s obvious.

Ponies without cutie marks race by. Neither are identifiable. Weird. Also weird is Spike announcing NO ONE IS AROUND as Pony sans cutie mark races by. WHAT THE FUCK. Keri tells everypony to cover their ears. This looks extremely odd, since the Baby Ponies have to bend their legs at an impossible angle to do so.

Keri lets out a godawful sound effect that hurts my ears. We see a horribly aged Gingerbread react first. Next up is Quarterback, who hasn’t aged at all, so I’m guessing the spell is very slow on Big Brothers or they haven’t been enchanted long enough for it to really drain them. He stops playing football and remembers why the fuck they’re in this episode. There’s a short insert of old granny Lickety-Split knocking over a sundae which spills on her head before we jump to 4-Speed driving around before he stops and asks what he’s doing. Okay.

On a very special episode of My 600lb Life: Lickety-Split

Seriously, I just need to insert this screen cap of Lickety-Split, because it’s amazing.

Out in what I guess is the middle of the medieval quasi-fantasyland, all the Big Brothers – who are young and totally fine – face off against four of the adult Ponies, while Spike and the three Baby Ponies stand around not blinking. I seem to remember there was like at least a dozen adult Ponies taken hostage. Where’s Posey? Buttons? Paradise? Nope. All we get is Lickety-Split, Truly, Gingerbread, and Heartthrob.


The Ponies don’t understand what’s happened to them and why they’re so old. BUT SCREW THAT, NO TIME FOR EXPLANATION, SLUGGER JUST RAN IN SCREAMING HE CAN’T FIND BUTTONS. Fuck Buttons. Oh gee, 4-Speed takes the time to add in that he’s not seen any of the unicorns. HUH, HOW SUSPICIOUS.

And, in a burst of smoke, Saint Ambula appears, announcing they won’t see the unicorns. But gives no explanation, no reason, no villain speech. Instead we get 4-Speed’s 4×4 truck come to life and the gingerbread house just grew a face and a tongue and looks hungry as it sort of rocks back and forth threateningly as if it can walk. Oh and the vines on Truly’s Southern plantation grow long and menacing. What the hell.

Quarterback orders Slugger and 4-Speed to go with him and the rest to protect the “little Ponies”. More like the “granny Ponies” at this point. There’s three minutes left, they have to speed up the final battle and end this sucker. I am not holding my breath that the resolution will be great or make a lick of sense, because, yet again, look what writers are writing this.

Oh look, Amubla left the wooden trap door access point to her underground cave TOTALLY OPEN AND UNGUARDED. Like, we’ve never seen it before. How the fuck do the Big Brothers know it exists? And that’s exactly where they should go?? Because that’s where Quarterback, Slugger, and 4-Speed go. They dive right on in. Ambula is just as shocked as I am.

Okay, it’s kind of hilarious watching the rest of the Big Brothers gallop off to “fight” a walking gingerbread house and 4×4 truck, which are kind of jiggling (?) menacingly (??) in the background before the scene cuts.

A new meaning of “you are what you eat”.

Down in the underground (SING ALONG NOW) the trio of Big Brothers come upon an iron (??) door which they crash into, because, whatever. Plot says so. Above ground, granny Gingerbread (WHY DO I ALWAYS TYPE ‘GIGERBREAD’?!) is being chased by the gingerbread house, who is yelling about how now she’ll understand what it’s like to be gnawed on. Um. Just then Steamer (oh god that is like the worst name, it makes my skin crawl) who is being chased by the 4×4 truck, leads it directly at the gingerbread house, cutting out of the way just in time, so the 4×4 truck smashes into the gingerbread house, destroying it. Apparently it doesn’t destroy the mouth, which yells “Watch where you’re going!”

The trio is still smashing themselves into the iron door and failing. Quarterback reminds Slugger that “Buttons is probably on the other side” and it’s totally ripping off that scene in The Goonies where Mouth implies he has photos of Chunk’s mother in the bath and will sell them back to him “real cheap” in order to get Chunk to break down the door of the Lighthouse Lounge. Or maybe I’m reading into it. Clearly Slugger wants nookie with Buttons. Because, sure enough, Slugger kicks the iron door with his back legs (ala Applejack) and it comes crashing down.

Okay, I know Quarterback mentioned Keri but I thought he directed the rest of the Big Brothers to keep her with them? Now she’s underground with the trio. YOU KNOW WHAT, WHATEVER. I’M TIRED OF THIS. AND NOW I HAVE MORE TO BE MAD ABOUT. The trio of Big Brothers and Keri just happen to find the four missing unicorns “plugged” into a “crystal”, which is draining them of their magic. Keri immediately deduces that Ambula is getting her youth from the “other Ponies” while she is gaining her “new” powers from draining the magic of the Unicorns.

The opposite of crystal healing

PLEASE NOTE: Earth Ponies and Pegasi are lumped together, while the show singles out the Unicorns. I’m pretty sure magic is involved in Pegasi but fuck if this show cares about HOW MAGIC WORKS.

And that’s when Ambula arrives and a “cage” appears around Keri. Now, pardon me if I’m reading too much into the events of this episode, but with the way that cage faded into existence just like the illusions above ground that held the Ponies, could it not be assumed to be an illusion from which Keri could easily escape? Like, it’s not physically there so only the mental illusion is holding her prisoner? DO YOU GET WHAT I’M TRYING TO SAY?

Steamer (ugh) makes the Thomas the Googly-Eyed Steam Engine train crash into the vines trying to ensnare the granny Ponies. Look, stop doing frequent two-second cutaways, we know the Big Brothers are winning, GET ON WITH DEFEATING THE VILLAINESS!

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)

Quarterback yells for Keri to sing and wake the Unicorns up. Ambula is all HA HA HA, YOU STUPID HORSE, I THOUGHT OF THAT (or at least in my head she says that) and points out that she has conjured up a metal muzzle around Keri’s beak. Keri squawks are muffled. This is beyond ridiculous. [Dove: She’s cheating. You can’t just Bill and Ted “remember a trash can” at every turn. There must be limits. HOW DOES MAGIC WORK?]

Slugger, desperate for sweet Pony lovin’, insists he will stop Ambula himself. But before he can do anything, she conjures up metal collars chained to the rock walls, around the trio’s necks. DUDES. IT’S ALL ILLUSION. DON’T YOU GET IT YET?!

We focus in hardcore on Slugger struggling against the metal collar. As soon as he sees Buttons – yikes – he screams her name and pulls free a huge hexagonal section of the rock wall, freeing himself (?) and running towards the trapped Unicorns. I know, my expression is one of shock, just like it is for Quarterback, 4-Speed, and Ambula.

Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Instead of, I don’t know, using that handy boulder that’s attached to his neck via heavy chain to destroy the magic-sucking crystal, Slugger headbutts it and sends it flying. Wait up, now there’s five Unicorns?? SOMEONE CAN’T COUNT AND I DON’T KNOW IF IT’S ME OR THE ANIMATORS. [Dove: At least they are unicorns. In my recap, a First Tooth was replaced by a Beddy-Bye Eye pony. Count your blessings.]

Ambula screams “NOOOOOOO!” as the crystal lands at her feet. A silly, not remotely appropriate-for-a-crystal-smashing sound effect plays as the crystal disappears into a puff of smoke. Ambula immediately begins to age back into the old woman she was at the start of this damn 2-part episode. The metal collars / chains around the Big Brothers’ necks and Keri cage disappear, JUST LIKE I CALLED IT BECAUSE THEY WERE MAGICAL ILLUSIONS. In fact, everything above ground also up and disappears, since Ambula’s lost her powers (?) (I HAVE QUESTIONS!) Ambula flees from the underground, squealing, and for some reason (PLOT SAYS SO) her trailer with the oxen is just waiting for her. Huh? Hiding her face behind her hands she jumps onto the buckboard and speeds away. I’m pretty sure oxen aren’t that fast.

Tex and Steamer watch as old age instantly dissolves from Heartthrob and… is that Truly or Sundance, Dove? I LITERALLY CANNOT TELL AND THE NEXT OVERHEAD SHOT OF ALL THE GATHERED PONIES DOESN’T MATCH UP OR GIVE ME ANSWERS. Steamer and Gingerbread inquire of Slugger and Buttons. I’M PRETTY SURE THEY’RE HAVING HOT PONY LOVIN’ UNDERGROUND… nope, I was wrong. Slugger and Buttons hop up through the trap door and Buttons nuzzles Slugger. AGAIN, NOT A COMBO I WOULD EVER IMAGINE.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Of course the Baby Ponies have showed up (??) and start giggling. Keri flies in lazy infinity symbols over a giggling Buttons and Slugger. Salty makes another terrible nautical-themed statement about “hard to port” and “dry dock” and all I hear is Leonardo making bad puns.

“Let’s go home, instead,” Tex replies. FADE TO BLACK. ROLL END CREDITS.


Final Thoughts:

I’d totally forgotten every second of this episode, ee-yup.

I guess we sort of answered my initial question: Somnambula is basically a made up word to describe the plot, in which the Ponies “dream / fantasize” via magic created by Saint Ambula. She leads the Ponies to their magical “doom” through Keri’s siren song and although she doesn’t drown them, she sucks the youth / magic / life from them. I mean, it works. I have to say, the writers actually came up with more than 12% of a plot for once.

Sadly, as this was the last 2-part episode of a truncated 13 episode-order season, never again will we see the Big Brother Ponies. They were shoe horned in because Hasbro had toys to sell. Yes, they eventually returned – and in larger numbers – in My Little Pony: FiM but, honestly, males aren’t addressed by the “Big Brother” moniker. They’re just Ponies, and all three flavors of Ponies at that. In G1, they’re strictly Earth Ponies, of the draft horse variety. The toy line eventually had “Playtime Baby Brother” Ponies – what a horrible / stupid name – but they didn’t arrive until Y7, far beyond when the cartoon was cancelled. (Baby Paws was my one and only and favorite, fight me.)

As Dove has discussed in prior recaps, Ponies “reproduced” by magic mirror (that… that still haunts me) and even then it wasn’t officially canon. Or it was. I don’t remember. All I know is it never came up in the fucking cartoons or the two television specials or the feature-length film. Male Ponies were not needed in that sense. [Dove: The magic mirror showed up in a comic. I did have a link to a scan of it, but… well, tumblr, y’know?]

Why did I give this episode the highest grade I’ve given in a very long time? Because of the Big Brothers being featured and the fact the story wasn’t just pulled out of a writer’s ass and thrown up on screen. Some thought went into it. Not a lot, but some. Do I think it would have benefited from being a 4-part episode? FUCK YES. The Big Brother Ponies only get established as “running around the world for a year”. WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? Why are they considered “Big Brothers”? DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT IT COMES OFF AS POSSIBLE INCEST WHEN SLUGGER AND BUTTONS START CANOODLING?? Okay, that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write but here we are. I mean, this cartoon is obsessed with enslavement and possible pedophilia, why not go full bore and touch on incest as well?

Why did our mothers allow us to watch this cartoon???

Moving on, as I said, a 4-part episode would have given the writers time to establish the Big Brothers’ return to Paradise Estate. Maybe explain why the fuck they were gone and why, also, we’ve never heard of them until 59 episodes into the series. (I didn’t count Rescue from Midnight Castle, since that was just shoehorned into the cartoon series in pieces even though it originally aired as a stand-alone cartoon special.) For fuck’s sake, the Princess Ponies were also a toy line and they got a 4-part episode! Also, would have given time to explain why the fuck Slugger was hooves over heels in love with Buttons. Why didn’t the music work on the Baby Ponies? I know it’s asking too much but where did Saint Ambula originate from? How did she imprison Keri? WHAT THE FUCK IS KERI BEYOND A “BIRD” CREATURE AND HOW STUPID IS SHE TO BE IMPRISONED BY A CAGE ILLUSION??

See, every time I try to answer my own questions I end up asking more.

Okay, well, this is getting no where and I just get more and more frustrated by the lack of vision, the lack of creativity – although again this episode had some creativity, it just wasn’t enough – and the lack of answers to the single-most question I’ve had during every damn recap: HOW DOES MAGIC WORK??

On to the very end, the final episode of My Little Pony ‘N Friends and the very last recap in this series. Until then…

[Dove: I’m rating this a B-, which is super generous. Everything that bat raises is definitely an issue, and I have no clapback for it. However, it hits me in the nostalgia feels because I did actually watch this one as a kid. It loses points for not having the Twice as Fancy ponies in there, but that’s just me being precious because my kid brain mushed this episode and my favourite play storylines featuring my favourite pony together.

I would absolutely love this to be a four-parter. There is so much fluff in this series that could have been cut to make way for expanding this story. I think this is actually a genuinely creepy story at the core – I don’t think it’s well executed, but the core idea is sound. You see something fabulous, but actually you’re just an energy source for some parasite stealing your youth, energy, magic… everything that makes you you. Kind of like the djinn episodes from Supernatural. Anyway, despite the flaws, much enjoyed.]