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S03 E09 - "Spike At Your Service"


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I was really, really hoping that somebody else would speak out against this attitude, but nobody did. I'm very disappointed in you, Canterlot, and I won't be returning. Farewell.

I've seen several posts from other users that I thought were poorly-thought-out and/or pointless, and even some that I was disturbed by, but I never let it get to me, because these users have their own opinions, culture and society to deal with it. Some, harder than others.

Quitting an entire forum based on a single person's post without waiting for a response is a tad upsetting to me, HopeFox. I think you're one of the better users here, and I expect a better way for someone to deal with what is one of my less-serious posts of the forum.

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Hello. This episode, for me, had good moments, that helped me be entertained. However these moments were primarily to the side of the main plot which, in my opinion, was kind of ridiculous.

Spike needs to feel like a noble dragon by serving someone else because they saved his life... For one thing, that is so used in cartoons that it is a cliche, it can still be done well, however it made no sense whatsoever in this episode. I'm pretty sure that Spike has had his life saved by ponies in other episodes before this one. And more than that, Spike saved and entire empire, and probably Equestria by proxy, by getting the Crystal Heart into a position to be used by Princess Cadence... In short, he doesn't exactly owe anyone anything, he's saved all their lives.

As for his being a complete clutz outside of the library... That was a little awkward, though I could buy it, buy that it was someplace new for him which was messing with his work. And then he built that tower of rocks perfectly, and counted every blade of grass in Sweet Apple Acres... ... yeah, they really should have had him doing most to everything well... that just wasn't Spike's day.

And as for the Timberwolves... he lodged a rock in their throat? The big, pulled together by branches creature? Cause I'm sure they need to breathe, and aren't, you know, animated golems possessed by spiritual energy... ... Anyways, yeah, that kind of aggravated me. I was totally expecting him to set them on fire or something. That would have worked better.

Now as for what I did like, as I've spent so much time saying what I didn't. Rarity's service fantasies, that fitted her. Rainbow Dash's self-based novel, taking her newfound love of books all the way with her own self focus, and Pinkie Pie's mustache... I can see why she was looking for an excuse to wear it. A truly villainous piece of facial hair...

However, while these moments made me smile and laugh, the overall episode plot was weak, and felt kind of ridiculous... I don't expect every episode to be gold, as much as I'd like it I understand they can't do super-well every time, however this one felt as though it existed to justify using a cliche... Not the best reason to have an episode. So overall, not very cool in my opinion, however worth watching for some fun moments, then moving past.

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So we're not to speak ill of the writers' writing, yet then you speak ill of their writing?

I'm sure that's not what I said. There's a difference between saying 'This story the writer wrote was a bad story in my opinion because these things didn't make sense.' and 'Anything this writer writes is garbage.'

I believed I was doing the first, not the second. I also believe the second is a bad thing.

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hi hi

Saying "This author is a horrible person," is an ad hominem attack, saying "I don't like this author's writing style," is not. For example, no matter how much effort they put into them, I don't watch Quentin Terantino's films, Uwe Boll's movies, read Robert Anthony Salvatore's books or read John Joseco's tumblr, nor am I obliged to try. Not liking someone's work is not the same thing as hating them, they may very well be perfectly decent people. (Personally, i've been trying very hard to give people the benefit of the doubt. There isn't any other show that I would actually watch an episode again when I didn't like it the first time. And I've been going out of my way to not look at who the author is until after watching the episode.)

In the past, the show has done a lot of silly random cartoon things, but they also would hang the lampshade when they did. For instance, back in season one, when Pinkie Pie started singing a song out of nowhere, ponies would say things like, "Tell me she's not..." or "Here we go." Or in Season two, when a random pot falls out of nowhere, Pinkie Pie looks up and ponders, "Now where did that even come from?" I think if they'd had somepony say something like "Wow, Spike's usually not this clumsy, you don't suppose he's getting carried away, do you?" A lot of people would have been able to salvage their suspension of disbelief.

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I don't really get the negative response to this episode. With the exception of the jarring, less than perfect 3D animation, which is an entirely valid, justified complaint, I think most of the big problems people seem to have can be pretty easily rationalized or explained:

  • Spike is too clumsy - no. He really isn't. He does a number of the tasks assigned to him perfectly. He successfully builds up that huge rock tower; he manages to count all the grass on Sweet Apple Acres, he successfully washes the giant pig. Spike isn't clumsy, he's overzealous. He's not in his element. He serves Twilight well because of their deep bond. It's effortless for him. It's different with AJ. He's forcing himself. He's trying much too hard. This results in more delicate tasks like cooking turning out disastrously. I think that excuses most of it. And the rest? Let's remember that Spike has always been prone to occasional clumsiness.
  • The dragon code is a forced development with no prior evidence to support it - yeah, but I kinda think that's the entire point. Look at the cheap little handmade card he pulls out of nowhere. Also remember that Spike does not know where he came from and all the other dragons he's met have been jerks. This is clearly something he made up himself and probably recently (I'd guess in response to the events in Dragon Quest; he wants to be a "noble dragon" to set himself apart from the less noble dragons). Twilight knows about it, but only because they're close and she's probably heard him enthusiastically explain it all ad nauseam. Spike's a kid. It's perfectly appropriate for him to make up silly little things like this because they sound cool and then follow through on them meticulously.
  • AJ should have been more direct with him or something - I don't get any of the complaints about AJ's behavior in the episode. It was pretty much spot on in character and also rang pretty true to me. She's awkward. She tries immediately to dissuade him, but when she sees how important it is to him, she caves in and goes along with it, at least until it becomes unbearable. I can't see her handling it much different.
  • The timberwolves were too easy to defeat - Again, I'd argue that's the point. I'd also argue they aren't really defeated. They seem capable of regenerating endlessly. Probably the only way to destroy them permanently is to burn the wood. That said, the timberwolves probably aren't just magically animated wood--there has to be something else to their physiology, as they seem to be predators. They pretty clearly want to eat the ponies and if they can eat, it kind of makes sense that they can choke as well. Sure, Spike lucked out in an unrealistic way with the big one, but that happens all the time in these things. Also, it was done amusingly. having him set it on fire might have made more sense, but I'm not sure they really want to have a whole lot of the characters killing other creatures in this show, people.
  • Twilight ran from the timberwolves instead of blasting them with magic - ever think that maybe she was just startled? It wasn't in the plan for real wolves to show. It goes to reason she just wouldn't be prepared for that. Probably snuck up on her too. I think fear makes sense as an immediate reaction to that. Also, as said before, these things regenerate, and quickly and Twi probably knows that.
  • Any complaints about the ending sequence - Nope. Don't get it. This was perhaps the most emotionally resonating moment in the episode. It's reaffirming the depth of Twilight and Spike's relationship. The episode toyed with the idea of Spike leaving Twilight's service, but of course we've had episode after episode affirming how much Twilight means to him. The whole thing would have fell flat for me had they not had a scene like that at the end to remind us of Spike's affection and attachment to the pony he is closest with.
  • The overall plot is cliche - yeah, this one I'd give you... but I fail to see how that's such a big deal. Most ideas have been done before. it's how it's done that's important. This was done well. The mane six were written more vibrantly than I can remember in a while. Spike's part was performed with enough earnest, child-like energy that it was believable. It all worked and produced something very fun. I think that could be recognized a little more.

I don't know though... I read these topics and it becomes increasingly apparent that I'm in this for different things than a lot of people probably are. I had a lot more problems with Wonderbolts Academy than I did this, and that's the Merriwether Williams episode people seem to like. It's probably not worth troubling myself over. :sleep:

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hi hi

Having Spike come up with a random Dragon Code out of thin air wasn't so much of a problem in and of itself. As you say, he is a kid, and kids do silly things like that. However, when Twilight validated it, it became a valid rational adult thing. When Twilight said "Do you know how important that is?" I'd have said, "Yes, I do. Its not as important as my wishes that he stop."

When someone is harassing you, allowing them to fulfill their desires is not a valid solution. Its just not. It doesn't matter if they think they're being nice, and it definitely doesn't matter if they think you'll enjoy it. (Whether its scratching your back or whatever.)

Its not a problem in and of itself that they played out a scheme to allow Spike to fulfill his code by saving Applejack, the problem was that the ending was left really ambiguous as to whether or not that was a valid solution. Applejack had been asking Spike to stop the whole time, and Spike only really seemed to begrudgingly agree to not do it again, should Applejack ever save his life again. (And to be fair, Spike's desire to serve Twilight was one of the major points of contention in Owls Well That Ends Well too, for a lot of people, it feels kind of unnatural.)

Personally, I don't really mind that characters struggle or make mistakes on their journey, but if they do, I'd really like for them to be able to reach their destination. So to speak.

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Having Spike come up with a random Dragon Code out of thin air wasn't so much of a problem in and of itself. As you say, he is a kid, and kids do silly things like that. However, when Twilight validated it, it became a valid rational adult thing.

Twilight is hardly a very rational adult though. I find it kind of hard to buy the wide eyed overenthusiastic way Twi delivered that line. I can't buy that this is a real thing. If it is, how does Spike know about it having no contact with other dragons? Why would he have that silly little card made up if its something with any kind of actual weight? He either made it up himself and emphasized its importance to Twilight or its an idea Twi maybe read about, told him about and he just decided to cling to it recently. Either way, I can't really see Twilight's words as much validation. Everything about it makes me think its intended to be something kind of ridiculous that just came up for Spike.

As for AJ responded to that all... yeah, telling an enthusiastic child no is not an easy thing for a lot of people. I don't think AJ's wrong for letting Spike indulge himself a little. Maybe it's not the best way to handle this situation, and she should have been a little firmer, but you don't have a story that way. Either way, the behavior seemed realistic.

Now, for this idea that Spike didn't learn any lesson, I can kind of see that to an extent, but I dunno. I think he did. He agrees pretty effortlessly to Applejack's suggestion that he follow her code instead. I think the actual danger his friends were placed in as a result of the situation affected him enough that he wouldnt' do it again. Spike clearly loves to be helpful; the end sequence tells me that he's realized fully that sticking with just helping the pony he cares for and admires most will be enough for him.

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TempestRime pointed out to me that Spike once turned into Godzilla because he got greedy. In that light, it would make sense that he'd adhere to a strict code to avoid it happening again.

I'm sure that's not what I said. There's a difference between saying 'This story the writer wrote was a bad story in my opinion because these things didn't make sense.' and 'Anything this writer writes is garbage.'

I believed I was doing the first, not the second. I also believe the second is a bad thing.

Almost everything these two have written that I have seen has been garbage, and I have to reason to expect that they won't continue to write garbage.

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TempestRime pointed out to me that Spike once turned into Godzilla because he got greedy. In that light, it would make sense that he'd adhere to a strict code to avoid it happening again.

That's a very good point. Considering all the things that have happened in previous Spike episodes (falling to bitter envy and almost losing himself to greed; not to mention encountering the other dragons), whether its a real thing or not it makes an overwhelming amount of sense that Spike would now want to cling to the idea of being a noble dragon--especially given most of those episodes ended up with his important friends worried or endangered.

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Spike is too clumsy - no. He really isn't. He does a number of the tasks assigned to him perfectly. He successfully builds up that huge rock tower; he manages to count all the grass on Sweet Apple Acres, he successfully washes the giant pig. Spike isn't clumsy, he's overzealous. He's not in his element. He serves Twilight well because of their deep bond. It's effortless for him. It's different with AJ. He's forcing himself. He's trying much too hard. This results in more delicate tasks like cooking turning out disastrously. I think that excuses most of it. And the rest? Let's remember that Spike has always been prone to occasional clumsiness.

Hmmm, I can buy into this explanation. I'd just wish the episode could have made this fact more overt, though. Ah well; that's what happens with 22-minute episodes.....

Twilight ran from the timberwolves instead of blasting them with magic - ever think that maybe she was just startled? It wasn't in the plan for real wolves to show. It goes to reason she just wouldn't be prepared for that. Probably snuck up on her too. I think fear makes sense as an immediate reaction to that. Also, as said before, these things regenerate, and quickly and Twi probably knows that.

I'll give you this point too........ maybe I'm just too used to thinking of Twilight as a total badflank. Anyway, I'll upgrade my episode rating to 3/5 now that my two main complaints have been rationalized away. :blush:

*****

While I'm still here, I just want to point out that I see no reason why the dragon race could collectively adhere to a sort of dragon code. Just because Spike fell in with a gang of teenage punks in one episode doesn't mean the ALL dragons are like that. That'd be like saying that all griffons are thugs only because the first one we ever saw in MLP acted like one (no offense Phil XD).

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hi hi

You don't need to be at risk of turning into a big scaly monster in order to have a code of conduct, but if you are at risk of hurting your friends by turning into a monster, does it make sense that objectifying them as a means to an end and making them uncomfortable is a solution instead? I think that the more valid Spike's concerns become, the more unfortunate it is that he never learned a real way to address them. (I appreciate that hard things can give substance to a story, but stories also usually benefit from having a denouement for those things.)

And since helping others really is an important skill, deciding to only help out a single person that you know and trust isn't really a good solution either. The whole knight in shining armor trope may have richly deserved being turned on its head in Dog and Pony Show and Canterlot Wedding, but there are real ways to figure out how and when to help someone out.

For the record: While I might be sounding like a particularly critical neighsayer, I did enjoy a number of aspects of this episode, there was just something missing that I think it needed for me to enjoy it as a whole.

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You don't need to be at risk of turning into a big scaly monster in order to have a code of conduct, but if you are at risk of hurting your friends by turning into a monster, does it make sense that objectifying them as a means to an end and making them uncomfortable is a solution instead? I think that the more valid Spike's concerns become, the more unfortunate it is that he never learned a real way to address them. (I appreciate that hard things can give substance to a story, but stories also usually benefit from having a denouement for those things.)

I don't think you're seeing this from the perspective of the characters. The show will always be about the characters on the screen first, no matter what underlying interpretations can be drawn from what we see. Spike, as a character, is shown to be a child, and an exceedingly earnest and eager one at that. He is not purposefully doing anything of that sort. I see him as very much trying to do nothing but help Applejack. He doesn't have the best awareness of others. He likely has no clue that AJ disapproves of what he is doing so much. Sure, she tells him she'd rather not go along with what he's doing, but this obviously doesn't sink in with Spike.

And since helping others really is an important skill, deciding to only help out a single person that you know and trust isn't really a good solution either. The whole knight in shining armor trope may have richly deserved being turned on its head in Dog and Pony Show and Canterlot Wedding, but there are real ways to figure out how and when to help someone out.

I don't think that's quite what Spike decided. I don't see him neglecting to help others when they need and only serving Twilight after this. I just think he's reaffirmed his dedication to being Twilight's helper. It's inherent to their characters that they both need and depend on each other. Spike probably just realizes this even more now.

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hi hi

Phil the Time Wizard, I'm looking at this through the lens of the discussion we're currently having because we're currently discussing this stuff. I didn't bring up what happened to Spike in Secret of my Excess, but I felt obliged to respond to it. In Spike at your Service, Spike was objectifying Applejack, even if he didn't realize what he was doing. He was not concerned about her wishes, and was only using her as a means to an end, the end of being a noble dragon himself. She told him to stop, and he took it seriously enough to freak out, but he had no problems doing things for her that he wanted to do, like jamming a bellows in her mouth. (ick!)

Yes, Spike is a child. Children regularly do all sorts of horrible things because the don't know any better, but when they do, that is the exact time when they should be learning to know better. (If not sooner.)

The trouble is that the ending is so ambiguous, that I think you could make an argument for just about anything. Sure, Spike could have learned something valuable, but without the hows, whats, or whys, I'm not sure if any interpretation is stronger than another, including some rather unpleasant interpretations. Applejack's discomfort and insistence that he stop didn't change from beginning to end, and when Spike first learns about the fake timberwolf deception he is dismissive about it and openly mocks them, so its anyone's guess what actually persuaded him to change his mind. (If indeed it changed at all, which we also don't know, because he was given a chance to repay his life debt and got off the hook.)

(And I admit that it is quite possible that it is my own personal experiences that end up filling in the blanks.)

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God, Pinkie Pie made me laugh so hard that episode I had to stop the video because I couldn't listen to it anymore. She absolutely has Youtube-Poop qualities... so random, so unrelated.

Super fast crazy plan... - Aaaaaaaand I will wear this mustach.

One Question.

What?

*mustach is on, no word from Pinkie*

No!

Fine.

So hilarious.

That made my day.

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hi hi

In other less controversial news, I'm beginning to think that Pinkie Pie is one of the greatest scientific minds in all of Equestria. It's like she sprung fully formed from the mind of Rube Goldberg. :lol: Her crazy plans and contraptions in this episode are just another example of her engineering prowess. Lets not forget her Pinkie Copter, either. One wonders what marvels she might invent if she didn't spend so much of her time designing parties, creating baked goods and crafting songs instead.

What other things do you suppose Pinkie Pie has invented, or could invent in the future? Do you think she made her own night vision goggles, or did those come from the bargain bin at the Canterlot Royal Guard surplus depot?

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Speaking on the 'dragon code,' I really only see it as Spike having a decision based on child-like logic. His code may only be specific to him as a personal thing. I mean his card was drawn with a crayon. Maybe there should be a Dragon Code Club like the CMCs, lol.

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hi hi

Twilight Sparkle doesn't seem to think that Spike's Dragon Code is a childish, personal thing. Has Twilight Sparkle finally made the leap from irrational and crazy some of the time to irrational and crazy all of the time? Anyways, I guess unless we ever meet any nice dragons, he probably wont get the chance to form a group of dragon code adherents. Might be kind of nice to see some other dragon characters though, or dragon characters that get some development at least.

Thats not to say that any of the other dragons we've seen so far are necessarily bad characters. While I think some people will make an argument against the teen dragons, I'm personally ambivalent about them. Its just that we as an audience haven't ever gotten a chance to know any of the other dragons on the inside.

Also, maybe Spike keeps bandages stored away somewhere that he can call up with dragon fire? That might explain where Twilight's bandages magically appear from, on any of the many occasions where she gets injured in a comical fashion.

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...maybe Spike keeps bandages stored away somewhere that he can call up with dragon fire? That might explain where Twilight's bandages magically appear from, on any of the many occasions where she gets injured in a comical fashion.

lol, im sure that's exactly what the storyboard artists were going for. :P

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This sounds unrelated, but...I've made another brony! The mum of the kids that I hang out with has been joining us for episodes all season long. The reason I bring this up is because I was in the position of defending it as she was severely disappointed. The best I could do was to point out the few things they did right...

  • The timber wolf, while choking, acted like he was choking at a fancy dinner! I have made such motions before, and it cracked me up.
  • Applejack getting swooning lessons was wonderful! Also, after lecturing Applejack on how to act, Rarity and Pinkie Pie were comically terrible actors! They were just enjoying it too much!

I thought you were a Mare Do Well apologist, Ginger? Maybe that was somepony else, like the green rat bunny thing.. :shock:

Not me! I tried to sit through it for a second viewing multiple times without success.

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I've been thinking more about the Spike dragon fire breath theory that has been so popular lately, and I think I have an idea as to why he did not use it: Animal Cruelty. Can you imagine that King Timberwolf going up in flames? How would you animate that in a way that won't scare the living daylights out of a kid? Can you imagine the death wail it would make? Or the PETA outrage? Can you imagine it running into the Everfree Forest to escape the flames and end up accidentally lighting the place on fire? I don't know about the rest of you, but it kind of sends shivers up my spine just thinking about how the death by fire scene could have turned out.

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