I’m a sports junkie, so of course I was looking forward to this one. If I were to guess was buckball is based on, I actually have to say netball given the particular positions as explained by Rainbow Dash and Applejack. Anyway, Braeburn challenges Applejack to a game of buckball and it looks set to be Dash, AJ, and a unicorn not named Rarity because that would be too easy. (I really don’t need to go into why Twilight would not work in this episode, do I?) However, it turns out Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie are even better at it and Snails is a discovery at the buckets. Snails is shockingly fantastic in this episode.
So it’s Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Snails against Appleloosa—until Dash and AJ try to coach them as if they were coaching themselves. Unfortunately, Pinkie can’t focus when something is not fun and Fluttershy gets too nervous when the spotlight/pressure is placed on her. Ultimately, Fluttershy yells why it’s not become fun for her and Pinkie anymore and Dash and AJ have to make amends. So, Dash and AJ play a practice game with Pinkie and Fluttershy and the latter get so much better without the thought of letting Ponyville down if they lose. Of course, Snails doesn’t think about those things—or anything else for that matter—so he is focused. It works as Pinkie, Fluttershy, and Snails manage to get a 6-5 win over Appleloosa.
This was a very good episode. Snails is likable for the first time ever in the series. He really hasn’t had so much screen time since “Magic Duel” and it’s the first time he’s without Snips. This was by far the most pleasant surprise. The other is how Pinkie and Fluttershy are good at this game. We’ve seen Fluttershy in the relay race in both “Rainbow Falls” and “Equestria Games”, but she really brings an A-game to this game. The game itself is a terrific concept brought into the world of Equestria.
The only downside is that we saw similar over-competitiveness from AJ and Dash four episodes ago in “The Cart Before the Ponies” where it got out of hand and had to be called out by the ponies they were “helping”. Same thing happens here. In the grand scheme of things, this is a minor flaw in what otherwise is a very good episode.
Pluses and Minuses:
- + A new sport!
- + Snails
- + Pinkie and Fluttershy excelling at sport
- + Good lesson
- – Dash and AJ get super-competitive again to somepony’s expense