MLP:ER – Over a Barrell

Hello?  This thing on? (figures, the one week I’m actually doing well at one post a day, and my internet crashes)

In this episode we see the limits of Celestia’s empire plans as she expands westward in her own dream of Manifest Destiny…

Ok, I’ll be honest, I was not looking forward to this episode with its infamous history.  The time of America’s wild west is like any other era of human history: complicated, hopeful, shameful, another fine example of humanity’s long history of us royally screwing each other.

However the darker periods of our past can be used as storytelling motifs for our comedies or dramas, indeed it may be that the way for us to culturally deal with our faults is to process them via fiction.  Like Looney Toons using the Roman times as a setting for conflict between Bugs and Sam.  Likewise the conflict between “cowboys and indians” is ingrained in American public consciousness so there is some use in it as a setting shorthand.

On the other hand, as Confused Matthew pointed out in his Titanic review, sometimes pop culture makes us dumber as a society.  So we don’t want our history becoming strictly a joke or fiction less we allow the lessons of our past to be forgotten by our own imagination.

Then, just to make it all even more confusing, we have the meta of MLP:FiM where it makes some sense that in a world without humans, beings on the edge of committing our sins find a way to do right what we humans messed up.  So is the show disrespecting our past or pointing out one of the lessons we should learn from it?  (It is nice to see a show pointing out that economic exchange can do a lot to bring two groups of people together.  Or that sometimes outsiders can encourage conflict that doesn’t need to be.)

Still, without the controversy, this is a bad episode with so much more fridge logic than is standard for these things.  How did the settlers get so established before the Buffalo pitched a fit?  Why weren’t there any negotiations over land long before now?  Was Fluttershy heading out there to foment more conflict to weaken Celestia’s rule so she could take over?  Wait, disregard that last one.  No matter how you look at it, this was just a painful episode to sit through.

Though I laughed when everyone had a negative reaction to Pinkie Pie’s song.  It’s nice to see even enemies unite in a hatred of musicals.

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4 thoughts on “MLP:ER – Over a Barrell

  1. Nate, it’s interesting you note Over a Barrel as one of the weaker episodes in the series, considering it’s the first MLP: FiM episode I ever watched, way back in 2011 before I became a Brony. One lazy afternoon I was flipping through channels, came upon HUB, and saw the ponies and buffalo having some sort of pie fight. It’s not surprising then that it wasn’t until Derpy talked in the Last Roundup, and the big brouhaha that followed, before I joined the herd.

  2. How did the settlers get so established before the Buffalo pitched a fit?

    The Buffalo only come through once in a great while… which is rather what the problem with real settlers-vs-nomads was, although of course MLP had fewer raped and murdered settlers, destroyed winter food supplies, stolen animals, etc. (Remember that a settler family would just be a very small tribe from the nomad’s POV, and thus if you can take their stuff, and don’t have an agreement not to, why not?)

    I kept expecting them to royally mess it up, but they did alright. Still a highly uncomfortable episode.

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