Co-dependency is a one-way street.
The Doc and Res are here, once again unfortunately in the same room, but we promise to try like 15% harder at this, and without any references to CW shows. Apparently this is accomplished by Res word vomiting onto a Word document and Doc translating it into (semi) coherent ideas, which is still better than the hungover mess that we pumped out the day of the Michigan game.
Anyway, this week Twi gives Spike the day off while she reads the books Princess Celestia assigned for her. Twi's list-making habit has rubbed off on Spike as he tries to occupy himself. Unfortunately he reaches the end of his list rather quickly, and decides to take a hot air balloon ride. This being a childrens' cartoon show, things quickly take a turn for the life-threatening. He clumsily releases the hot air balloon and chases it through town, knocking a wheelbarrow into motion and narrowly saving Granny Smith by being remarkably badass and grabbing the wheels with his claws. That friction had to hurt, dragon or no. He finally catches up to the balloon in the Everfree Forest, where he is chased by a pack of timberwolves.
Not those kind of timberwolves. Apple Jack shows up to save the day, incidentally killing all the non-NBA timberwolves. I guess there aren’t very strict nature conservation laws in Equestria, or it's timberwolf season right now. The rocks that Apple Jack used were also rockets, which was neat and punny and all of that..
Does Spike love Apple Jack now because she saved his life? A little Florence Henderson, right Doc? (Shut up, Res, sometimes my brain stops working. I can’t be brilliant all the time!) What Doc meant to say is that there's a little reverse-Florence Nightingale syndrome happening here. Apple Jack and Spike return to Ponyville, believing that the timberwolves are dead. But the timberwolves are zombies! Which is also pretty neat!
Spike has a lot of Catholic guilt, I notice, and as a result he pledges to repay Apple Jack the life-debt he owes her. Also he is somewhat emasculated as a result of being constantly surrounded by strong-willed female ponies. Particularly Rarity. (Res: Who is absolutely fabulous and perfect in every way).
Apple Jack doesn't really want Spike's help, being the honest and hardworking pony that she is, so she asks Spike to help Apple Bloom clean little Piggington, a giant pig with a bow! (Whenever I see a fat person with the name “little” I assume they’re in the mafia. Sooo…mafia pigs? Rad.) They clean her ‘til she sparkles, and we coo over how cute Apple Bloom is with her giant bow. (She is so cute!) This might literally be one of three times that a southern accent is cute.
Spike is really good at helping Twi, but not so good at helping out on the Apple Family Farm. Maybe he should stick to books and libraries; physical labour isn’t his strong suit, probably because he’s the size of the cutie mark crusaders. Though you’d think with his opposable thumbs he’d have a distinct advantage over hooves…
There's a lot of innuendo in the argument between Spike and Apple Jack about the necessity of Spike's assistance to the Apple Family. (Subtext: Spike is a tweeking meth addict jonesing for his next fix, and is offering sexual favours to Apple Jack to get it.) We're probably just two jaded twenty-somethings, but go ahead and watch that conversation a few times. Just for us.
Spike reveals that he has a dragon code of honor that requires him to pay his life debt to Apple Jack by serving her all of his days, adding a nice racial element to this episode. Hope you enjoy your white guilt early on a Saturday, kids! Apple Jack reminds him that he's actually living with Twilight and acting as her assistant, which makes him realize that he then has to go break up with Twi, which is the hardest thing he's ever had to do.
When he arrives at her house, Twilight is a little preoccupied with her reading- she barely acknowledges his presence, let alone their divorce. Twi didn't appreciate a good thing when she had it – this is the saddest break up I've seen on television in a long time.
Back at the farm, Spike is trying to help Granny Smith and Apple Jack by baking. Dragons are great at many things (guarding gold, killing sheep, torching crème brulee, etc.), but baking from start to finish is not one of them. Doc asks innocently how one manages make a gray pie. “DUH YOU BAKE IT TOO LONG,” responds Res, with usual insightfulness. Doc counters that stuff turns brown and then black, with no grey whatsoever in between. God, Res, haven’t you ever made a damn pie? I prefer pumpkin, but still. The Res would like to point out that this is a show about talking ponies, and one of them is a physics-defying goddess. Of course there are grey pies in this world.
They make Rarity eat Spike's awful pie, which she does to make Spike happy because true love is a thing and it knows no bounds. Apple Jack explains the situation to Rarity, who explains all the ways she would take advantage of it – all fashion related assistance, of course. Rainbow Dash shows up and the same situation plays out. (How else is Rainbow Dash supposed to finish her novel/fantasy biography? I feel like that whole conversation actually happened in the MLP writer’s room.) This showcases how terrible Rainbow Dash and Rarity are and consequently how great Apple Jack is supposed to be for feeling bad that someone is waiting on her hoof and hoof, especially because all she did for them was be a good friend. But that won't work, because all the false modesty is starting to get to us city folk.
Rainbow Dash suggests that they make Spike work so hard that he will have to quit. She proposes having him build a tower of rocks for Rainbow Dash to smash through. Fluttershy joins the others and points out that they should have just said they didn't have anything for them to do, which Apple Jack regrets not doing. The ploy backfires when Spike completes the tower and Rainbow Dash has to fly through it, probably concussing herself in the process. Apple Jack takes Fluttershy's advice and tells Spike that she has no more tasks for him, he goes a little crazy trying to think of things for him to help her with so they're still not rid of him.
Apple Jack gets wise and goes to Twilight for help. She gets her attention by moving one of Twi's inkpots – pony has some serious OCD. Twilight doesn't recall breaking up with Spike at all. (Yes, that's what we're calling it), but the two mares brainstorm a way to get him back where he belongs.
When the Mane Six gather at the barn to plan, Pinkie has all sorts of ideas for how to fake a dangerous situation to put Apple Jack in. She brought her own cannon and beehive (and a moustache!), which makes you wonder: Has she thought about this, perhaps late at night, standing over Apple Jack's bed? Wearing the mustache?
The plan they actually hatch mimics the original circumstances of Spike's rescue, giving him a chance to save Apple Jack's life and thereby repaying the life debt. They have a timberwolf puppet which Twilight animates with her magic and Rainbow Dash does a convincing timberwolf roar, but Apple Jack is a terrible actress. She has to pretend to be stuck under a rock, but Spike sees through the horribly contrived and blatantly transparent “danger” situation. He despairs of ever repaying his debt to Apple Jack, when the real zombietimerwolves appear. They’re out for vengeance!
Apple Jack smashes them again, trapping herself in the rocks for real this time, but the zombies cannot be kept down! The three timberwolves combine like a horrible wooden transformer to make one huge monster. Apple Jack is genuinely stuck, and Spike must come to the rescue for real. WHY DOESN'T HE JUST SET THEM ON FIRE? HE'S A DRAGON.
Instead of going with the obvious solution of setting the timberwolf on fire, Spike throws a rock at it. Oh wait; he just clogs its throat with a rock, saving Apple Jack in an ironically symmetrical way. That poor timberwolf, why does everything that crosses the Mane Six die horrifically? Apple Jack gives a sermon at the end, as she is often inclined to do, about not overdoing things, and in the end, everything is back to the way it was. Twilight has Spike back in her life, and his neediness almost rivals that of Dean Winchester.
(Goddammit, Res. We almost made it through a whole review without referencing Supernatural.)