Title: Woe is Me [Dove: So. Fucking. True.]
Summary: A hobo with horrible luck takes shelter with the Ponies. Disaster and destruction of various play sets follows. Buy our merch so your little brother can destroy it, says Hasbro.
I’m back! I mean, did I ever really leave? No, I just got a break from this utter nonsense. Turned a year older, clearly not all that wiser, since I’ve returned with another recap of a very stupid episode — actually, it’s probably easier to list the decent episode(s?) of MLP instead of the stupid, since the stupid ones are a dime a dozen — and Game of Thrones is on its way out the door into history so I need a distraction from all that.
This episode is one I have vague memories of, in that I remember the… would you even call it a “guest star”, I mean it’s clearly the “insert character of the week” who shows up so the Ponies have something to do / solve / torture. Just like in the giant random puppy episode, there is no Megan in this installment, so the Ponies have to use their tiny brains and think for themselves how to get out of this mess. No white girl savior tropes this week!
Shall I repeat that? THERE IS NO STUPID MEGAN THIS WEEK WHICH IS A GIFT TO ME!!
Better get into this before I get entirely too happy over that turn of events, because you know nature abhors a vacuum, thus something will fill that vapid hole where Megan is missing…
[Dove: I never thought about it until you mentioned it, but how unimaginative must the writers be if the basic plot of the unverse is: “There are multicoloured ponies living in a magic land, some do magic, some fly, some don’t. Run with it.” And their first act is “Welp. Let’s get a human. And if she’s not around, we’d better write in extra characters, because otherwise, WE HAVE NO PLOT.”]
We open with an establishing shot in some kind of briar patch. Whatever it is, it’s thorny and the camera is filming from behind some canes (is that right?) but pans right to show some poorly drawn shrubbery moving, as through something’s running… under it? It doesn’t matter because we immediately cut to the, um, creature who’s responsible.
I’m trying to figure out a way to describe him. Green, a sickly green, in skin colour. Purple top hat and coat, white blouse, unnatural red hair, blue pants, no shoes, carrying an umbrella that’s basically a wire frame and handle. There’s a four leaf clover in the band of the top hat.
Oh. Least I forget, there’s is a small black rain cloud perpetually hovering about his head.
Pausing to catch his breath, Woebegone looks around before dashing off again like he’s Shaggy in an episode of Scooby-Doo. The screen begins to shake as something that is either a badly-comprised dinosaur or a dino-inspired dragon stomps into frame. We can only see the lower half of it anyway.
Oh, now its face is shown. It’s yelling at Woebegone, and its head looks like someone in the art department said, “Children will never know this isn’t how dinosaurs OR dragons are supposed to look, so give it the head of a fucking alligator!” Anyway, said reptilian failure (who for some reason is drooling profusely?) is demanding Woebegone come back.
Woebegone instead crawls up under the huge cap of a suspicious looking mushroom to hide in. The cap descends, hiding him completely but that pesky black personal rain cloud hovers over the mushroom, giving away Woebegone’s hiding spot. Oops. It even begins to thunder and pour rain on the mushroom, drawing the terribly-imagined dragon/dino/alligator creature’s attention.
Ripping the mushroom cap off, somehow the dragon/dino/alligator creature doesn’t pick up Woebegone as well, which makes no sense but clearly I ASK TOO MUCH OF THIS CARTOON. I should mention that Woebegone is voiced by Charlie Adler, who voices G1 Spike. Let’s just say that the only difference is tone/pitch. Ugh.
In what is clearly a shitty edit, Woebegone “escapes” the clutches of the dragon/dino/alligator creature — whose grasp is also very questionable — and runs away. I can’t tell; maybe all that drool is to imply the dragon/dino/alligator creature wants to eat Woebegone?
DOESN’T MATTER because we side wipe over to Paradise Estate, where scale doesn’t matter (god those Ponies are TINY. HOW DOES PERSPECTIVE WORK??) and I’m pretty damn sure my Paradise Estate playset was NEVER that shade of hot pink. [Dove: I can confirm, the playset is a light pink. The kind that turns yellow in the sun.]
Posey wanders in to talk to a hedgerow of poorly defined background flowers. Well, it’s Posey; she is to flowers what Fluttershy is to animals. Leaning in to sniff some blossoms, she draws back a purple top hat.
I HAVE SOME QUALMS. FIRSTLY, HOW THE FUCK. SECOND, DOES POSEY HAVE SUPER STRONG INHALING ABILITIES?? (This also leads to more questions that are inappropriate for a children’s show but my god, all the Alice in Wonderland ripoffs are taking me there anyway. Someone put on Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit, stat!) THIRDLY, WOULDN’T IT MAKE MORE SENSE IF SHE HAD THE HAT BRIM IN HER MOUTH??? I am so confused.
A pair of green hands reach up to take back said purple top hat. Posey’s expression basically says it all. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK, indeed.
Posey inquires who is hiding in this hedgerow. Woebegone shushes her and OH MY GOD THEY NAMED THAT DRAGON/DINO/ALLIGATOR THING AN “ALLIGATORSAUR” LITERALLY I CANNOT MAKE THIS SHIT UP HOW LAZY ARE YOU FUCKING WRITERS?? [Dove: *sighs*]
I want to give up now.
Woebegone hops out of the hedgerow and asks if he can hide for a while until the (I can’t believe I actually have to type this now) alligtorsaur is gone. DON’T DO IT, POSEY.
Posey says Woebegone can hide in the sunflower patch. Well, I guess in some way she didn’t just put all the Ponies in jeopardy by saying Woebegone could hide in Paradise Estate, so it’s a good first step?
Woebegone runs right into the sunflower patch at full tilt, Posey running after him to inquire what an alligatorsaur is. Um. Which is, of course, when said alligatorsaur stomps into frame. HOW DO THE REST OF THE PONIES NOT SEE/HEAR/KNOW THAT THING IS SMASHING ITS WAY AROUND RIGHT NEAR THEM?? WHY IS THERE NOT PANIC IN THE FIELDS?? [Dove: Also, they totally know what Smooze is without being told, but they couldn’t infer what an alligatosaurus is? I guess Ponyland doesn’t have alligators or dinosaurs.]
Because plot says so, alligatorsaur stomps through the giant sunflower patch, misses Posey entirely but steps on Woebegone. Or, more correctly, Woebegone’s right foot. Even though the alligatorsaur would clearly SQUISH BOTH because of the size of its feet.
BUT WHAT DOES SIZE AND MASS AND PERSPECTIVE AND ANYTHING ELSE IN THIS CARTOON MATTER.
Sometimes I “come to” and wonder how I got to the exact moment in time where I am. This seems to happen a lot during these goddamn cartoons.
But, instead of shattering Woebegone’s foot, the… well, the only description I can find for Woebegone is “hobo” but that says nothing. He’s not really a goblin or a troll (or at least in the sense of what we’ve seen of those in Dream Valley / Ponyland) and I suppose he could be considered a leprechaun (he’s green, little, has bad luck, has a four leaf clover in his hat band) which pains me because I really enjoy Mad Sweeney on American Gods (now THERE’S a proper 6-foot-something, ginger-haired leprechaun I could climb!) but I am really digressing badly right now.
WOEBEGONE JUST GRABS HIS HURT FOOT AND HOPS AROUND IN PAIN WHILE POSEY STARES BUT SOMEHOW THE WHATEVER-FOOT-TALL ALLIGATORSAUR DOESN’T SEE HIM AND INSTEAD ASKS IF POSEY HAS SEEN A “LITTLE SQUIRT” RUN THROUGH THE SCENE.
It’s really a wonder I don’t stroke out during one of these episodes.
Posey, because she’s not a fucking snitch, shakes her head no. Nope, haven’t seen anything small, green, and unlucky. The alligatorsaur doesn’t believe her but Posey stands her ground. That’s when a bunch of other Ponies run into the shot. Gee, way to be late to the party, girls.
This is when Posey gets real indignant and angry at the alligatorsaur and the point which I remember that she and Gusty share a voice actress (hello, Bart Simpson!) and the rest of the Ponies who have conveniently showed up also begin to yell at and shame the alligatorsaur for “picking on” Woebegone.
The alligatorsaur decides he’s not putting up with this shit and warns the Ponies that if Woebegone is indeed in their midst, they’re in for it, because Woebegone is a heap of trouble. On its way out of the scene, the alligatorsaur’s tail totally smacks Woebegone’s top hat off before totally knocking Woebegone on his ass. Yet, because plot says so, the alligatorsaur neither feels it or notices. [Dove: In theory, he was a carnivore. Why not just eat the ponies?]
Because editing is expensive, suddenly there is a multitude of Ponies standing around Woebegone. They inquire if he’s all right but he complains of a “tiny pain” in his big toe. CONSIDERING THERE’S TWO LUMP SHAPES ON THE END OF HIS FOOT I’M NOT SURE HOW HE KNOWS HE HAS TOES LET ALONE THAT THERE’S PAIN IN ONE OF THEM.
“OH, YOU’RE HURT!” Posey cries. THANKS FOR CATCHING UP, POSEY.
Okay, this is new. Woebegone says the alligatorsaur may be huge but it’s light on its feet, so he’ll be fine. *insert screaming*
Shrugging off the Ponies faked concern, Woebegone walks away, only for his personal black cloud to finally catch up to him just in time to deflect an apple falling from a tree (a tree that doesn’t remotely look like an apple tree or have any other apples on it.)
Surprise flies over and barricades Woebegone’s path, as he stands there with his umbrella frame as the cloud rains on him. She says he can’t go. I will spare you the terrible logic and surmise that Woebegone believes that bad luck follows him everywhere.
Gingerbread insists that Woebegone stay with the Ponies. See, this is when Megan’s four brain cells might come in handy, although I’m pretty sure she would insist the same thing without consulting the Ponies. [Dove: You know in horror shows or movies our heroes break down in a small town, and the townsfolk are like, “Come in, stay with us, let us fix your car for free and feed you delicious treats on the house and not in a Hallmark Christmas movie way”, and then by the end of the show/movie our brave heroes are tied to a tree, about to be sacrified to the pagan deity the town worships? That’s the vibe I had from the whole episode. They were so insistent that he stayed.]
Oh that’s great, you’re putting the creature who is a lightning rod for “bad things” IN THE LULLABYE NURSERY! I had to check to see but apparently I didn’t take any really good screen caps in Escape from Catrina of said nursery, but I honestly think this is the most-accurate drawing of it made in any of these episodes.
Yet another stunning example of how awful the Ponies are as parents. Yes, put a complete stranger in with your children and pretend nothing bad will happen!
We cut to Woebegone laying uncomfortably in a crib, his foot bandaged, trying yet again to warn the Ponies. Baby Shady is already calling him “Uncle Woebegone”. Oh god. She begs him to spend nappy-time with her and the rest of the Baby Ponies. Yikes. [Dove: Yeah, that just got icky. Nappies are diapers for us Brits.]
Oh thanks, Gingerbread! I’m not sure if that’s a threat or a promise, that when Woebegone awakens, he gets ginger bread cookies and milk.
“First your cookies crumble, then BOOM! Your whole house falls down!” Woebegone is a bit dramatic. But yet, as Lickety-Split looks up, the ceiling plaster crumbles and falls on her head. Oh dear.
CUT TO NIGHT TIME (HOW DOES TIME WORK??) AND EVERY BABY PONY IS FLEEING THE LULLABYE NURSERY, SCREAMING FOR HELP AS THE ROOF CAVES IN AND THE ENTIRE STRUCTURE FOLDS IN ON ITSELF.
Wow. Serious drama, much dramatic. [Dove: If we survive this episode, we must remember to check whether we see the nursery ever again. I suspect we do. Big old handwave about the structural integrity coming up.]
Cowering in an open field, the adult Ponies run up immediately (how they heard all that when Paradise Estate is a great distance away is beyond me) and inquire if the baby Ponies are all right. Wow, care and concern, although they are totally responsible for the destruction of their childrens’ sanctuary.
Baby Shady is afraid they’ll have to sleep outside. Nope. The baby Ponies are told a place will be found for them inside the Estate and to follow Masquerade. Like, wow. Who the fuck wrote this.
Lickety-Split realizes Woebegone must still be in the Lullabye Nursery. She and Ribbon run over, Ribbon smash kicking the door in with such force it collapses more of the building. (WTF.) They enter and climb over the wreckage to find Woebegone sleeping sounding in his crib, unharmed. Lickety-Split thinks he’s dead but just then Woebegone sneezes plaster dust into their faces.
Just then a beam cracks. Lickety-Split kicks the crib out of the way but the wood still falls, launching Woebegone into the air. Luckily he lands on Ribbon’s back and the trio race out of the ruins. Again Woebegone warns them that they need to let him go — is he the Ponies’ prisoner?? [Dove: See????!] — but suddenly Gusty is a roofing / building expert and insists that the roof was due to collapse anyway. “Eventually.”
YOU SHOULD SEE MY EXPRESSION RIGHT NOW.
Wow. Just… wow. Way to yet again excuse everything away, Ponies. You really do deserve your fates.
So now they have tucked Woebegone into a twin bed inside the Paradise Estate. My god the Ponies are stupid. And now is when Lickety-Split asks him to explain why the alligatorsaur was chasing him. Geez.
“I passed through his village and demolished it.”
GIANT. RED. FLAG.
“Oh come on!” Gingerbread laughs. Suddenly, Lickety-Splits’ mouth begins to move and Woebegone’s voice comes out, ushering us into a flashback… wow, Discontinuity Award! That was actually super freaky looking.
Woebegone explains that his home was a “beautiful tropical garden”, which to the background painters apparently means “LET’S PAINT THIS TO LOOK LIKE A MANGROVE SWAMP SOMEWHERE IN BACKWATER HICKSVILLE LOUISIANA!” Like, I know that 4-6 year olds have no idea what some natural spaces look like but I’ll be damned if I didn’t grasp the basic concept of “JUNGLE” when I was that age. What is on the screen is NOT a fucking jungle.
Wobegone and his buddies are kicking around a “kalido-stone” (???) and running through the swamp they clearly live in. One of them spots a witch. Which is a total lie, as they just completely ran past her home where she happened to be in the front yard, stirring a cauldron, as witches do. Sure. The one friend calls to Woebegone and the other, who sneak over to hide behind a rock and spy on the witch. Who, being a witch, clearly knows they’re there. Woebegone notes that the witch has never harmed them. Hm, that sounds foreboding.
His friends, named Handmedown and Tattle, decide they’re going to push the witch into her brew. Woebegone is not down with this plan but because plot says and peer pressure, goes along. The witch, totally onto this plan because plot says so and also a witch, is down to get them at their own game. Which immediately changes to Woebegone distracting the witch with the kalido-stone while the other two knock over the pot. I guess they had a change of heart about putting her in boiling liquid in the two seconds this took?
As soon as the stone thing, which is basically a cross between a bouncy ball and a hacky sack, rolls past the witch, she turns around and hisses like a snake, which I’m going to go ahead and say, SOMEONE IN THE ART DEPARTMENT DECIDE YEAH LET’S MAKE HER FACE LOOK LIKE A SNAKE AND GIVE HER FANGS! because they didn’t learn their lesson with the fucking alligatorsaur.
Anyway, she whips around and casts a spell, freezing Handmedown and Tattle. Woebegone panics, demanding that the witch not hurt his friends because they didn’t mean any harm to the witch (??? um, you are sorely misguided, Woebegone) and immediately runs into the fray, slamming into the witch and himself into the cauldron.
Instead of knocking it off that ridiculously raging fire, Woebegone and the witch are in the cauldron, apparently it’s full of soup. Sure. There’s no physical way they can both be in that pot at the same time but plot says so.
Seriously. Woebegone is drawn child-size and the witch is clearly an adult, yet now she is smaller than child-size Woebegone and they’re both comfortably able to fit in that cauldron. LIES. SO MANY FUCKING LIES.
Before Woebegone can finish his story, the flashback dissipates, and Paradise Estate begins to tremble like a 8.0 earthquake is hitting Dream Valley. [Dove: I dare you to write a San Andreas-style disaster fic for Ponyland.] The Ponies hustle Woebegone out of bed and under the frame. We see Gusty crawling under another bed like a coward, as the wall crumbles for apparently no reason.
Gingerbread tries to make light of the situation and says the Ponies won’t need an air conditioner now!
Lickety-Split decides they’re going to move Woebegone to another part of the Estate for the night. He wants to finish his story but she cuts him off, saying they’ve had enough excitement for the evening. Ha ha ha.
Where do the Ponies put him? In a light fixture, hanging from the ceiling, in the same room where the baby Ponies have been put to bed. BECAUSE THAT’S THINKING! Seriously, I can’t say that they’d do better with Megan there to tell them what to do. She makes just as many fucking stupid decisions and mistakes on behalf of the Ponies, so it’s anyone’s guess. [Dove: Search parties. That’s what she’d suggest. Not sure how it’s relevant, but I’m sure it would work.]
Of course, just as he decides he’s got to leave, the light fixture starts to give way, so Woebegone jumps out. Landing on a table, it breaks in half and re-injures his foot. Sure. Why not. The baby Ponies do not awaken. Sure. Why not. That’s when the light fixture falls and lands on Woebegone’s foot. SURE. WHY NOT.
I swear, I am going to need a lot of therapy when we finish recapping these goddamn episodes. [Dove: I wouldn’t advise it. I went to therapy and had to do exposure therapy. As in, be around the thing I’m terrified of/anxious about. You’d probably have to watch Season 1 on a loop for weeks.]
On his way out the door, Woebegone tucks in… it’s hard to guess but I’m going to say Baby Heartthrob. Giving her a kiss on the hair (?) the crib breaks and collapses. Okay.
Out the door, which is an oddly placed door that I cannot explain, Woebegone wanders away from the damaged Paradise Estate. In his wake, trees, flowers, hedges, and grass die.
OH MY GOD. THE PONIES HAVE HIRED THE BUSHWOOLIES TO REPAIR THE LULLABYE NURSERY. AND THERE THEY ARE, WITH HAMMERS AND NAILS AND SCAFFOLDING. AND THERE IS NO EXPLANATION ON HOW THIS IS SUDDENLY HAPPENING OR HOW MUCH TIME HAS PASSED BECAUSE WHAT IS TIME
But what are the Ponies truly concerned about? Woebegone having run away. What are priorities?
Lickety-Split and I actually agree for once. Good riddance. Of course the other Ponies shame her for having common sense and a sense of self-preservation, demanding everypony go find him because he’s hurt and needs help. SOME THINGS ARE BEYOND SAVING AND HELPING, YOU TWITS.
It doesn’t take long for Masquerade, Gingerbread, and Ribbon to follow the path of destruction and find Woebegone.
WHICH MEANS IT’S TIME FOR A FUCKING SONG.
Not only do the Ponies insult Woebegone by deeming him a hobo [Dove: It’s not even a catchy song. I’ve already forgotten it. Unlike The Littlest Hobo, which I still occasionally hum, despite not having heard it since the 80s.], but they also risk their lives in trying to force him to come back with them to Paradise Estate. You know, this is actually a good lesson, but sadly presented in a misguided way.
Woebegone gives in, naturally, and heads back with the Ponies, as trees drop their leaves and die in his presence.
After a smash cut, we see the Bushwoolies running away with a ladder, having entirely rebuilt Lullabye Nursery in the nick of time [Dove: Ok, no need to worry about continuity then.]. Gusty thanks them. Well, that’s something. Lickety-Split is pissed to see Woebegone and Gingerbread insists there’s no such thing as bad luck (HA) while Gusty gallops over to close the door on Lullabye Nursery.
Lickety-Split mocks the trio of Ponies who brought Woebegone back, adding that the playsets did not collapse, the moon is made of cheese, and she is personally the queen of England. OKAY I HAVE QUESTIONS. HOW DO THE PONIES KNOW ABOUT ENGLAND?? AND THAT IS A MONARCHY?? EXPLAIN THIS TO ME, DOVE. [Dove: Don’t be silly, bat. Everyone knows that every American in the universe is a massive fan of the monarchy. So Megan, Danny and Molly must have told them. Because Americans LOVE the royal family.]
Masquerade, whom I did not have the toy of, is a bitch and snaps that yes the playsets collapsed but NO ONE GOT HURT. Woebegone warns them that Lickety-Split is correct, demonstrating that he is a walking source of imminent danger by tapping on a tree, which promptly rips out of the ground by its roots and falls over.
OH MY GOD GINGERBREAD JUST EXCUSED THAT AWAY BY SAYING IT WAS AN OLD TREE. STOP THIS BULLSHIT APOLOGIST CRAP, YOU DUMB ASS PONIES.
A couple of baby Ponies wander up, prompting Lickety-Split to tell them to run and hide in Paradise Estate, as Lickety-Split is the only Pony with common sense in this episode. Holy shit, Lickety-Split is the Unlikely Voice of Reason!
Before the baby Ponies can get away… I don’t know what that is. I’m guessing it’s mud? It’s coloured with almost too much red in the brown, which makes me think that suddenly the ground is bleeding where Woebegone is standing. Which honesty would make sense. But anyway, it floods the ground and traps Baby Shady. We listen to her screaming for help as the screen goes black.
Seriously, that probably terrified some children back in the day.
Why did this crap need two parts? (Beyond, y’know, the fact this episode was obviously filler.) It would have been perfectly fine to let Baby Shady suffocate in the mud(?). Seriously. Could have shaken shit up with some death.
So here we are, reopening with Baby Shady screaming for help in what has been redrawn as proper watery mud(?) while the adult Ponies stand around looking shocked. [Dove: Why is Shady’s hair always that baby poop colour? It’s the most vibrant shade of luminous yellow in real life, and it’s gorgeous, but they just make it so ugly on the show. (Same for Surprise and all the others with the same shade.)]
Masquerade actually does something, by flying into the air and hovering over where Baby Shady went under, before she leans down and pulls the baby Pony out by the mane. Like. I have questions.
But Masquerade’s bite strength isn’t enough and she loses Baby Shady, who goes back under the watery mud. Woebegone wails that it’s no use. WAY TO BE OPTIMISTIC, WOEBEGONE. DON’T YOU KNOW YOU’RE IN A GODDAMN MY LITTLE PONY CARTOON?
In one of the more amazing feats of strength this cartoon has displayed, Masquerade struggles hard and eventually manages to pry Baby Shady from the muck. We see Lickety-Split run into frame, as the background is now a grassy meadow, as Baby Shady lands on her back. Baby Shady, of course, is unharmed and not covered in any muck. Because that would cost extra money to the paint department for that level of continuity/detail. [Dove: Nor is her mother present, because the art department is already flummoxed by size and scale and having two identical ponies of different size would cause them to quit.]
Masquerade lands on her ass and all the rest of the Ponies are excited that death has been averted yet again. They instantly begin to tell Baby Shady, who in the closeup has mud all over her legs and giant tears in her eyes (??) that Masquerade has saved her and EVERYTHING IS FINE FORGET THAT YOU’VE BEEN TOTALLY TRAUMATIZED FOR TWO WHOLE DAYS NOW. I’m beginning to think the Ponies are running some kind of cult.
Lickety-Split, on the other hand, is yet again the Unlikely Voice of Reason, telling Gingerbread to go fuck herself (although in much more polite terms) and that everything won’t be okay until Woebegone is gone. She even apologizes for saying so to Woebegone, who agrees he needs to leave before the Ponies hate him.
Like, okay, I know the writers are going for a message here but they’re YET AGAIN handling it in all the wrong ways.
Masquerade yells that the Ponies will never hate Woebegone AND OH MY GOD ANOTHER FUCKING SONG?? IT’S TOO SOON. TOO SOON!
The song demonstrates Woebegone causing more damage and destruction, and also that the muddy muck that nearly drowned Baby Shady WASN’T THAT DEEP AT ALL. (Lies. ALL LIES.) And then the Ponies dry Woebegone with their tails in a move that is quite disturbing.
Let’s just say the song ends with Woebegone announcing he’ll stay, just as the ground crumbles beneath his feet and he lands on his face. Ugh. And that’s when his personal rain cloud spews lightning that zaps him in the ass before pouring down rain upon him. So much lightning that the Ponies scream and are temporarily blinded. Sure.
Woebegone, holding aloft his useless umbrella frame, walks past and knocks a bee’s hive from a tree branch. Normal sized real-world bees buzz forth. Apparently the writers forgot there are giant walking, talking, human sized bees in Dream Valley. Woebegone picks up the pace but we never see the bees again. WTF.
Now he’s crossing a randomly placed bridge over the river which collapses in the middle just as he crosses. Uh huh. Like, I’m done, can we just fix this bullshit so I can move on to the next recap? (Which, of course, is likely to be just as awful but at least it will be different.)
Oh, my bad, there’s the bees. [Dove: Seriously. There’s bees. And you didn’t do this…?
Lickety-Split states she’s sympathetic to Woebegone’s plight but why do the Ponies have to share the suffering. The rest of the Ponies are serious masochists, so they run after Woebegone. Who, once more, has left a vast trail of destruction and damage in his wake. Well, at least he’s easy to find?
The Ponies find Woebegone in a tree, which has self-immolated. Woebegone doesn’t want to be found, let alone hang around the Ponies, but the branch snaps and he’s forced to tell the second half of his stupid flashback origin story. Yay.
Dove, please note Gingerbread’s ANGRY FACE.
As we left off, Woebegone found himself in a boiling pot of stew with the snake-y witch. Which he now calls a potion. Not only can they not keep continuity in the imagery but not in the story, either. Ugh.
Handmedown and Tattle, somehow freed, run away. Woebegone notes they were in no position to help, “even if they wanted to.” Um, THEY ARE NOT REMOTELY YOUR FRIENDS, WOEBEGONE.
Without showing it, the witch is somehow out of the cauldron and sweating a single bead of sweat from the middle part of her hair over and over, as Woebegone rambles away about how this was all an accident and bad luck. You chose your words poorly, Woebegone. As Woebegone attempts to climb out of the pot, he splashes the witch with more potion. That’s what the witch curses him with: to become exactly what he believes himself to be, BAD LUCK.
See, there’s your message, children. The power of belief can be so strong you can make yourself become what you want to be or what you think you are, even if it’s not true.
Luckily, the witch isn’t exactly evil, and puts a curse breaker line in her spell. Woebegone only has to have a change of mind and believe his deeds to be good and true to release himself from the spell, which is physically manifested by the black cloud above his head.
Intending to teach him a lesson, that witch just sentenced him to decades of suffering at his own hands. Ugh.
Young Woebegone wanders around his home village, pondering the curse put on him, rain cloud floating above his head. Handmedown and Tattle tell Woebegone’s father that Woebegone pushed the witch into the cauldron by himself (??) and the father calls Woebegone a hero (????) and I’m so confused. Woebegone buys into his own hype. We see him take an apple from a cart without paying for it, but just as he’s about to bite into it, the cart collapses and draws the store owner’s attention. The store owner yells at Woebegone and the apple tree falls and crushes the store building.
Wait, wait, I’m lost. His father calls him a hero but random bad shit starts happening? THIS WAS NOT WELL THOUGHT OUT. HOW DID WE GET FROM POINT A TO B?
The store owner yells at Woebegone, stating that you don’t go messing with witches. Okay I guess this is when shit starts to backfire and explain itself but still, this is bullshit story telling.
Young Woebegone finds a four leaf clover and picks it, only to come home to the village to find everything flooded and people sitting on the roofs of their homes, yelling and cursing him, calling him a jinx. AND SO ENDS FLASHBACK.
That was a terrible and poorly written origin story.
Gingerbread and Masquerade assure Woebegone YET AGAIN they will be his friend and that they don’t believe in curses. Um, he either failed to mention the key line in the magical curse to the Ponies or they are in SUCH GREAT DENIAL about shit (and really, they are fucking magical so how they don’t know about curses…) that they will get what they deserve.
Because the episode is literally running out the clock and this fucking storyline needs to wrap it up. Gingerbread and Ribbon insist he’s the one creating the bad things because he believes he will make them happen. Um, duh. They tell Woebegone he needs to stop believing in bad things happening and all the bad shit will stop. [Dove: And everyone knows it’s easy to give up life-long beliefs. So hop to it, Woebegone.]
As soon as Woebegone buys what the Ponies are selling, he demands the cloud to strike him and it instantly disappears. Like, whatever, at this point I have checked out. This is totally a lesson in like attracting like; surrounding yourself with positive thoughts attracts positive, negative to negative. Well, fine, that will work for most people. Try being bipolar and having your brain attack you 24/7 and then see how this works out.
And that’s when the witch appears in a magical tornado that springs up from the ground. Ribbon is immediately rude to her. The witch explains she just wants to congratulate Woebegone, as well as the Ponies, because they all learned a great lesson. Sure.
The witch then magically grows 20 feet tall as she casts a new spell, cleansing Woebegone of bad and leaving only good. With a blinding flash, she disappears and all that was destroyed as been restored. Whatever. ONCE AGAIN NO EXPLANATION ABOUT HOW MAGIC WORKS IN DREAM VALLEY, IT JUST DOES. [Dove: Also, fuck literally everyone Woebegone interacted with while experiencing his curse. They deserved to have their homes destroyed, their villages flooded, their crops die out, etc., just because one asshole has low self-esteem. Sure. Fuck those asshats.]
Hell, the spell even healed Woebegone’s foot. Apparently that ends up being what Woebegone is the most excited about. Like, who cares that he won’t cause death and destruction, his foot is fucking fixed. I give up.
Running all the way back to Paradise Estate, they discover Posey’s garden has been restored [Dove: Yeah, but still fuck everyone else. You know, the people who have been homeless for years before the spell was broken.]. Lickety-Split is unhappy to see the trio of Ponies returning with Woebegone. Masquerade points out the black cloud over Woebegone’s head is gone. For some reason this means he can grab Lickety-Split by the chin and tell her that he is permanently cured of his bad attitude. What.
And with that, Woebegone announces his return to his home village, which he assumes should be put right again. Like, you left as a child. Say between the ages of 8-10. You look like you’re 40-45 at this point. MOST OF YOUR VILLAGE SHOULD BE DEAD BY NOW.
As Woebegone walks away, he trips on a rock and falls down, causing all the Ponies to gasp. “It’s okay,” Woebegone calls, Masquerade admitting he’s a little clumsy. Um. And Woebegone walks off, the end.
For some reason the credits are rolling over clips from prior episodes, all in random order. This is wild. I think that whole sequence with Megan was some footage never used in an actual episode.
Here’s the thing about these filler episodes: because they are one-offs, or maybe two parts at best, the writers seem to think this is a good time to insert some moral or life lesson. Yet they continue to fail at pulling off their objective in a timely manner or make it so convoluted that it ends up sailing right over the target audiences’ heads.
As I can remember this episode enough from initial viewing as a child, I can totally say that the moral — believing in yourself, attracting positivity by being positive — was totally lost on me. All I saw was a weird green dude with red hair making terrible trouble for the Ponies until it eventually stopped because there was a witch involved. And then he went away and we never saw him in another episode.
Why the writers chose these short, throw away filler episodes to tackle heavy topics, instead of using the 4-part story arcs to do so, is beyond me. This didn’t even need to be two parts. Everything could have fit in one 10 minute episode.
I’m not being as harsh in grading as I could because at its core there is an important life lesson. It was just poorly shoe-horned into the second part of the story line and thus probably missed by an entire generation or two. Twilight Sparkle would be aghast.
What did you think, Dove?
[Dove: I liked this episode more when it became the Troubleshoes episode of G4, which was much more engaging all around – great characters, a nice arc for the CMCs, a dour delivery by Troubleshoes himself. This? This was boring and irritating. The ponies seemed so intent on helping Woebegone that it almost seemed threatening. As bat says, the message was lost on me – in fact, because I’ve seen this twice before the recap, I only half-watched to refresh my memory – and guess what? I missed the message again. I wasn’t thinking enough about it to analyse it, and it took bat recapping it to make me pay attention. It was just a bad episode all round. It bugged me that the ponies kept re-writing what had just happened too. “OMG, CLIFFHANGER, BABY SHADY MIGHT DROWN!” becomes “Baby Shady was moderately inconvenienced by getting mud on her hooves, it wasn’t all that bad.” Yes it was. A baby nearly died. The correct response was, “It wasn’t your fault. It was scary, but disaster was averted. Everything’s ok.”
I’m going to grade this D. I didn’t like it, but it didn’t make me angry or offend me, and at the moment, that’s literally the best we can hope for.]