Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 27: Just for Sidekicks + Games Ponies Play


< Part 26 | Part 27 | Part 28 >

Season 3, Episodes 11-12

I’m almost done with season 3 now! My final season 3 post, covering Magical Mystery Cure, will come out a week from now, and then I’ll take a bit of a break. I think it’ll be fun to release my first season 4 post on (almost) the one-year anniversary of my first season 1 post: March 11, 2022.

Season 3 Episode 11: Just for Sidekicks

In five words: Spike experiences continuous babysitting mishaps.

Premise: While the Mane 6 are out to the Crystal Empire, Spike has to watch over their pets and gets into a huge wrangled mess.

Detailed run-through:

All his pony friends have pets of their own just like he did, but that didn’t stop Spike from doing what he thought was right.

This episode starts with a quick follow-up from the ending of Dragon Quest: a set of photos showing Spike with his pet phoenix named Peewee, ending with him releasing Peewee back to his homeland. As I said at the end of Dragon Quest, this is a selfless gesture on Spike’s part, showing that as much fun as he had with his little pet, he knew the right thing to do was let Peewee live with his own species. I’m going to imagine that Spike traveled there all by himself to drop off his little buddy, much like he traveled to the dragon kingdom by himself in Dragon Quest. It would be a good example of him taking extreme lengths for those he cares about.

I love how Spike is singing along to the background music. He does more of this throughout this episode.

Spike prepares a delicious gem cake, but he can’t control himself from eating all the gems for it in the process. He immediately suspects Owlowiscious of stealing the gems, until the owl shows Spike a spoon that reflects his face, indicating that he ate them. Their one-sided rivalry from Owl’s Well That Ends Well has returned in full light here, cementing this episode as one that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

After Spike mourns the loss of his gem cake, Fluttershy asks a favor of Spike in her bumbling, apologetic fashion. She tells us that Princess Cadance invited the Mane 6 to welcome the head of the Equestria Games over at the Crystal Empire, and Spike already knew and was disappointed that he wasn’t invited. I’m sure Cadance wouldn’t have minded if Spike came along anyway, but it still bites for him not to be acknowledged with his pony friends. Season 3 has given us some good looks at Spike’s insecure side, fleshing out how he feels about being Twilight Sparkle’s sidekick.

In an endearing display of her humility, Fluttershy says that all she could offer Spike in return for her favor is a tiny jewel, and that he would say no anyway. But to Spike, this is a big, juicy jewel that would be perfect for his cake, and it makes him agree to babysit the pesky Angel Bunny tomorrow. And due to his draconic greed for gems, Spike decides to ask the rest of the Mane 6 if he can babysit their pets.

Rainbow Dash insists that Tank is a strong turtle who can take care of himself, but he keeps crashing into things and needs his pony owner to help him out. This is subtly heartwarming because Rainbow Dash also crashes into things very easily (seriously, there’s a lot of truth in the nickname Rainbow Crash). This commonality between Rainbow Dash and Tank suggests that these two are always on the lookout for each other, which is very sweet.

Rainbow Dash: Alright. You can watch him, but… only because, uh… Tank’s got a strict flying regiment and– and someone needs to make sure that he doesn’t slack off while I’m gone.
(Tank licks Rainbow Dash, Rainbow Dash blushes)

Just like how Rainbow Dash likes to downplay her cutesy and affectionate side, here she’s doing the same for her pet turtle. She tries to convey that her pet turtle is as awesome and fearless as she is, but she’s really showing that her turtle is sensitive and lovey just like she is deep down.

Rarity gives a huge list of bullet points for how to properly treat Opalescence, and Spike writes them all down to the letter. I’m going to guess that Rarity made all those up in the hopes that Spike would give up early on, because she forgot that Spike would do anything for the sake of his crush.

Ah, yes. The element of generosity.

Rarity contradicts her element of harmony by giving Spike a tiny gem ripped from her dress. Though I am extremely biased towards Rarity episodes, her character in episodes not focused on her often comes off as flat.

Pinkie Pie takes a long time to get the message that Spike wants to babysit Gummy, and I don’t blame that only on her being Pinkie Pie. The idea of needing to babysit Gummy is absurd on many levels because he always sits silently doing nothing, and the Cakes would easily be able to take care of him if truly needed. She needs Spike to say it outright because it wouldn’t cross her mind otherwise.

I don’t have anything to say about the Mane 6 saying goodbye to their pets except for one scene: Rainbow Dash briefly acts affectionate with Tank, then goes back to looking stern and darting her eyes back and forth, as if making sure no one saw that. She’s exactly like a brony embarrassed to admit to liking this show.

When Spike turns his back for one second, the animals immediately start causing chaos, because what did you think was going to happen? It’s at this point that Spike realizes he got carried away with greed and put himself to an unmanageable task. The rest of the episode has him clumsily try to keep everything under control, leading to plenty of hilarity.

To start, Spike tries rounding up all the animals, and the order in which they appear gives them a loose ranking of their loyalty. From most to least loyal, we have Winona (an ordinary playful dog who will do what her owner says), Tank (a loyal pet for a loyal pony), Owlowiscious (a slightly snooty but helpful owl assistant), Opalescence (a highly snooty but reasonably loyal cat), Gummy (an alligator whose loyalty rating is zero), and Angel (a mischievous bunny who leaves the house the moment he gets).

Bet you can’t guess which of the Cutie Mark Crusaders I’m about to go on a tangent on, huh?

That’s right, who else but Sweetie Belle? Here’s what she has to say about Angel:

Sweetie Belle: Awww! Little fluffy Angel Bunnykins! You’re so cute!!
Sweetie Belle: The natural ways and his fluff are to die for!
Spike: Ahem.
Sweetie Belle: Isn’t Angel just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?

Sweetie Belle’s characterization through the show is remarkably varied for a supporting character. Her portrayal ranges from “miniature Rarity” to “the most level-headed Cutie Mark Crusader”, and in this episode it’s easily in the former. I don’t see this variance in characterization as a bad thing: she’s a fun and multilayered character, but more importantly than that, she is completely adorable.

Also on the topic of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, let’s think back to this episode’s title: Just for Sidekicks. This episode brings several characters outside the Mane 6 together in their mishaps trying to babysit all those animals (who themselves count as sidekicks), and through its title, it embraces their role as sidekicks. While many episodes focus on Spike’s insecurities about being a sidekick, this one takes a breather from those topics in favor of lighthearted humor and mishaps.

Though the Crusaders were going to try getting skydiving cutie marks, Spike convinces them to babysit all those animals instead by suggesting that they could get their cutie marks in taking care of animals. When motivated by his dragon greed, Spike is good at convincing others to do as he pleases, much like we saw in Secret of My Excess. But right when he’s about to leave, the Crusaders have a few questions:

Apple Bloom: But wait! How are we gonna take good care of them without treats for when they’re good?
Sweetie Belle: And when they beg for when they’re tired?
Scootaloo: And toys! They need toys.
Spike: It’s an afternoon. They don’t need all that stuff, they’ll be fine.

Unlike Spike, the Crusaders seem to have some semblance of an idea how to take care of these animals. It helps that there are three of them, which at a glance suggests that they’d be much better at babysitting than Spike. But then, Apple Bloom suggests that Spike give up one of his gems so that they could buy something..

I’m surprised that the balloon model of Rainbow Dash survived Opalescence’s aggressive claws.
Perhaps Tank fiercely protected it? But that doesn’t explain how it survived his helicopter blades either.

… and we see that the Crusaders’ eagerness to earn their cutie marks got the better of them, as usual. They always want to cut to the chase, and it leads to some of the most spectacular mishaps the show has to offer.

I already said all I wanted about how dragon greed is portrayed in the show as I went through Secret of My Excess.
It’s nice to see that trait coexist with other aspects of dragons’ portrayal like we saw in Dragon Quest.

At this point, it’s clear that Spike is going to lose his gems one by one as he goes through all these mishaps. Zecora can sense that his dragon greed is getting the better of him, so she nabs one of his gems and drops it into a donation box. This doesn’t even remotely solve Spike’s real problem, but given the last time we saw Spike get carried away with greed, it at least makes sense for Zecora to try to curb his greed.

Yet again, I feel bad about not using whatever name fans have given this guy.

After Spike needlessly gives one of his gems to Granny Smith, we get even more of Angel making his life difficult: he’s hopped on a train that we soon learn is headed for the Crystal Empire. We later learn that this whole time, he wanted to have his tail fluffed, so maybe he wanted to see Fluttershy again so that she could treat his tail just the way he likes.

Train conductor: I can’t have all of these animals on my train. Not without tickets, and not without chaperones.
Spike: All I need is to get on for one minute, grab a bunny, and get off! Promise!
Train conductor: (laughs) Likely story. No chaperone, no train.

This passage, particularly the train conductor saying “likely story”, suggests that Angel is highly anomalous as far as bunnies in the MLP universe go. Evidently, most bunnies in the show aren’t mischievous enough to board a train to get away from someone who’s supposed to babysit them.

Spike gets the Cutie Mark Crusaders to join him on the train ride, then gives the conductor his third last gem. The Crusaders are excited to learn that the train is headed for the Crystal Empire, and Sweetie Belle even lets out a bunch of squeaky noises. Spike, on the other hand, is horrified and aggravated at Angel. Angel unwittingly did the Crusaders a nice favor by giving them a quick taste of the Crystal Empire!

The Spike torment goes even further when Joe walks by with a batch of warm donuts and the animals ruin it. Spike gives him the second last gem in panic, and I’m willing to bet Joe is familiar with Spike’s flavor of cumbersome antics. Spike was a regular visitor to his donut shop back in Canterlot.

The Crusaders are excited to see all these snowglobes, but Opal is like, eh, I’ve seen better.

Spike tries to keep the Crusaders and pets inside the train, but Apple Bloom uses one of Scootaloo’s feathers to tickle him. Then Angel throws Tank at the door and allows them all to escape. The Crusaders are super excited to get a peek at what all the Crystal Empire has to offer, and who can blame them? This episode focuses on something Spike and the Cutie Mark Crusaders have in common, which is their tendency to be left out of the fun. But while this episode torments Spike, it throws a bone to the Crusaders.

As he chases Angel, Spike sacrifices his last gem to unbuckle a cart holding a bunch of suitcases, buying him and the animals a bit of extra time…

… so that they and the Crusaders can hide under the seats in the train as the Mane 6 give us a nice load of dramatic irony about how Spike would have loved it there. As it so happens, they all sit on the same seats that Spike and company hide under, and Applejack coincidentally hears a dog bark as she sits down and dismisses it. Angel tries kicking the seat from below, but he’s fortunately too small to cause any further mischief.

Opal looks calm and satisfied here without Spike needing to follow a wacky list of orders, further suggesting that Rarity’s instructions were a load of nonsense.

This episode then squeezes in a moral about taking care of pets, namely that you should follow what the animal’s owner requests instead of caring only about the money you’re paid. A similar moral could apply for babysitting children, making this another impromptu babysitting episode. And here’s where the episode FINALLY treats Spike with respect. After he fluffs Angel’s tail as requested, Angel retrieves the last remaining gem and lets Spike have a bite, satiating his hunger. Though Angel is best known for being a mischievous brat, he has a sweet side that parallels him with Fluttershy. I imagine Fluttershy’s perception of Angel is much like her perception of Discord: she sees the best in both of them.

The Mane 6 arrive back home, and as far as they can tell, Spike took care of all their pets without a hitch and even had fun with the Cutie Mark Crusaders! Sweetie Belle almost lets the truth slip by mentioning the Crystal Empire’s snowglobes to Rarity, but then waves it off as a lucky guess.

And to bring this episode full circle, Spike gets back to making his gem cake but swallows his last gem and screams “WHY???” This episode’s ending cements it as a “just for fun” episode, especially compared to the ones with heavy morals we had before.

Overall thoughts:

This is another Spike episode that treats him harshly and makes him the brunt of slapstick humor, only throwing him a bone towards the end. But it’s still fun to watch and exciting to see him and the Cutie Mark Crusaders fumble through all these pet-sitting shenanigans and barely avoid getting caught. As with a few other episodes of season 3, this one has a more “just for fun” feel than anything in the first two seasons; the episode consists mostly of cartoony humor and only presents its moral towards the end, without any secondary takeaways. And while I never outgrew cartoon humor unlike so many other people my age, I’ve more recently come to appreciate the show for its sentimental moments and friendship lessons too.

Grade: C

I think I want to be a little stricter with which episodes get a B grade or higher. But remember what I said when I reviewed the first episode: a C grade or higher means I think it’s a good episode.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • I feel like Tank needs a nickname equivalent to Rainbow Crash, but unfortunately his name is too short to lend itself well to puns. “Jank Tank” perhaps? I normally see the word “jank” used to refer to glitchy video games, especially those involving a certain blue hedgehog who happens to be compared a lot to Rainbow Dash.
    • Let’s face it, if you think of “games famous for being glitchy”, the first one to come to mind will almost certainly be Sonic 06. Now please shove a fork in my mouth so I never go on a tangent about Sonic again.
  • Rarity says Opalescence can only go to sleep in a temperature of exactly 81.4 degrees. To viewers who have only internalized the Celsius temperature scale, this probably gives credence to the idea that Rarity made all those bullet points up.
  • Now that I think of it, the Cutie Mark Crusaders looking at a store of Crystal Empire snowglobes without getting to buy any is like a group of kids getting just the slightest tease of MLP merch at a store and hoping to return and nab some for themselves.

Now it’s time to see this episode from the Mane 6’s perspective in the most natural and obvious episode transition yet.

Season 3 Episode 12: Games Ponies Play

In five words: Mishaps from the other perspective.

Premise: Taking place at the same time as Just for Sidekicks, the Mane 6 go through tons of mishaps in the Crystal Empire trying to prepare for the Equestria Games.

Detailed run-through:

This episode starts, naturally enough, with a tie-in to Just for Sidekicks. The Mane 6 say goodbye to Spike, who assures them he has his pet-sitting under control, only for his place to burst into ruckus immediately after. Twilight Sparkle freaks out seeing that, but Rainbow Dash pulls her away saying they can’t miss the train. None of the other ponies care too much for Spike’s antics; they’re all way too pumped for the Equestria Games. This is a testament to Spike’s shafting, which this episode acknowledges but doesn’t resolve.

As the ponies are about to board the train, Rainbow Dash demonstrates her passion for the Equestria Games by saying she’s still salty that Cloudsdale didn’t get to host the games the year they should have. We get a flashback where young Rainbow Dash reacts to the announcement that Fillydelphia will host the games with her typical flavor of angered disappointment. The ponies resolve to not let the Crystal Empire experience the same disappointment, hoping that they can get this place to host the Equestria Games through their charm and convincing.

Hmm… what’s the first interesting thing to happen after the Mane 6 board the train? Oh, I know! Twilight Sparkle greets Cadance doing their “sunshine, sunshine, ladybugs awake” dance, and unlike the last few times that happened, it occurs in the background as the camera pans to the side. This camera movement clearly indicates that Twilight and Cadance’s special greeting is a well-practiced routine at this point; something that doesn’t need to be front and center anymore. It’s like the show is going, “yeah, you know the drill, we’ll let Twilight and Cadance do their thing in the background”.

Oh yeah, we also learn some bits and pieces of what the games inspector is like; someone who’s very critical and detail-oriented, not one to cut others some slack. But that’s less important than the horizontal direction in which the camera briefly moves, is it not?

Unlike her weird lapse in generosity last episode, Rarity got her element of harmony back the next day as we see here. She eagerly offers to fill in for Cadance’s sick hair stylist and isn’t intimidated in the slightest by the long list of instructions. She’s not just willing, but excited, to give this everything she’s got and fulfill Cadance’s wishes to the letter.

I imagine that as a kid, Rainbow Dash complained about Fillydelphia hosting the Equestria Games so much that it drove everyone around her crazy.

Rainbow Dash: We need to remember that the games inspector arriving early is probably part of a plan to psyche us out.
Twilight Sparkle: What do you mean?
Rainbow Dash: You said it yourself. She’s got a rep for trying to catch hosts off guard. Just to see if we can handle the kind of massive pressure that comes with hosting the Equestria Games.

Rainbow Dash gives us an amusing demonstration of how she still won’t forgive Cloudsdale not getting to host the Equestria Games that one time. She still thinks that was some huge mistake and assumes that in their current situation, the inspector will throw them curveballs every which way. She thinks getting the Crystal Empire to host the games will be extremely complicated and tricky, all because she can’t accept defeat.

If Rarity was here, she would say something like, “why, darling, it is my greatest honor to meet you, Ms. Harshwhinny!”
And then they would all find out the truth.

The Mane 6 (besides Rarity) see a seemingly cold and harsh mare get off the train, except she turns out to be enthusiastic and friendly and eagerly greets them all. It’s hilarious in retrospect that they just assume this pony is the games inspector, whose name we don’t yet know is Ms. Harshwhinny, because she has a flower print luggage. It’s also a little embarrassing to watch, because I’ve been in way too many situations where I made an assumption that’s blatantly wrong in retrospect. The ponies could have easily asked the “inspector” what her name is, but no, they just assume they have the right one. There’s a lesson to be taken here in not jumping to conclusions (yes, I know that was the moral in a season 2 episode, but the moral is shown in this episode much more effectively).

It’s amusing that as invested as Rainbow Dash is in the Equestria Games, she doesn’t seem to know much about the people who run it.

After the random pony who the Mane 6 assume is the inspector is excited and pleasantly surprised at them showing her around the Crystal Empire, the real Ms. Harshwhinny then gets off the train with a character establishing moment. She looks at her watch and taps her hoof impatiently with a stern expression, as if to say “I haven’t got all day, where are they?”

Rainbow Dash keeps telling her friends that the “games inspector” is probably acting nice and easygoing to test them, and that they shouldn’t let their guard down. It’s hilarious how much she’s overthinking this, and it becomes even funnier when you consider this is all because of her unforgiven childhood bitterness.

I’m not sure where exactly the name Ms. Peachbottom came from, but since everywhere I look seems to use this name for her, I may as well go with that.

Ms. Peachbottom: Oh! I tell you, I have traveled far and wide, but I have never, EVER been welcomed any place in the fashion that y’all have done here today.
Twilight Sparkle: That’s fantastic! Princess Cadance would be so glad to hear that.
Ms. Peachbottom: Honestly, I’m surprised she knows anything about me at all!
Twilight Sparkle: Of course she does! She’s been looking forward to your visit for weeks.

The Mane 6 are all being painfully thick-headed here—shouldn’t it occur to any of them that maybe they have the wrong pony?—and yet, I can really see it. The ponies unconsciously brushing aside anything that might suggest something is off, especially Twilight Sparkle because she doesn’t want to disappoint authority figures, whether they be a princess or, um… another princess.

Do you know how hard it is to not spell her name as Ms. Harshwinny?

While the random tourist who the ponies unwittingly yoinked into a tour of the Crystal Empire is having a great time right now, Ms. Harshwhinny is a different story. She stands by a puddle in the street and promptly gets splashed by a carriage, and honestly she brought that upon herself. It would have been so easy for her to step away from the puddle, but somehow she didn’t think to do that. Maybe she’s so stressed that she forgot about common sense?

OK, what else is interesting here? Not a lot for the next several minutes. Rarity giving her flavor of overdramatic excuses? Already talked about that in Sweet and Elite. Ms. Peachbottom being claustrophobic? Obligatory to mention, but not something I have much to say about since she’s a one-off character. The Mane 6 struggling to keep her interest while Rarity keeps working on Cadance’s headdress? Now there’s something worth analyzing. It’s clear from Pinkie Pie’s attempt at extravagantly describing one of the castle’s big round rooms that the Mane 6 don’t know that much about the Crystal Empire. Their awkwardness is amusing to watch, but it’s also a little painful. They signed up for a task they weren’t prepared for, and they don’t have Rarity around to gush about how beautiful this place is. I feel like Rarity was kept on dressmaking duty in this episode because all these clumsy antics wouldn’t happen if she was with the others.

While Twilight Sparkle goes to Shining Armor for help, the others take the “games inspector” to the castle’s nonexistent gymnasium, and by some coincidence they end up in the same place. Ms. Peachbottom is extremely excited to be out in an open space and crashes into everything and everyone in the practice session that Shining Armor is supposed to be coaching.

Shining Armor: Watch it…
(Ms. Peachbottom crashes into a bunch of ponies)
Shining Armor: Make her stop!
Rainbow Dash: Wait! That’s the games inspector. Let her do her thing.
(Ms. Peachbottom keeps running like crazy)
Shining Armor: Why would she do that?
Rainbow Dash: I have no idea, but… that’s why she’s in charge of choosing who gets the games and we’re not, heh.

To Shining Armor, it’s obvious that there’s something fishy. That’s because he knows how the Equestria Games work firsthand and wasn’t put in charge of giving the inspector a tour of the Crystal Empire by an authority figure who he’s all too eager to make proud. This mindset of pleasing Cadance has blinded Twilight Sparkle to the idea that anything could go wrong, and her friends are loyally following her lead.

While I’m struggling to say anything about most events in this episode, how about I analyze Rarity’s reaction to seeing Rainbow Crash… I mean, Rainbow Dash slam headfirst into a window and slide down like a dead bird after chasing Ms. Peachbottom? Rarity makes an annoyed face and then gets back to work, indicating two things about her: (1) she doesn’t like being distracted when working on her craft and (2) she’s used to Rainbow Dash getting into accidents like this and doesn’t see it as much cause for concern. I wouldn’t say that second point makes Rarity a bad friend or anything; she knows that Rainbow Dash usually comes out fine.

(Can someone tell me why Rarity is by far the most fun to analyze out of any of the Mane 6? I sure don’t know why.)

I can almost hear Shining Armor saying, “Doesn’t she know I have a wife?”

When Ms. Peachbottom gets all giggly and humbled to meet a prince face-to-face, that’s when the Mane 6 finally realize she isn’t Ms. Harshwhinny. Please give a round of applause to Shining Armor for being smart enough to deduce that the real inspector has met many princes in her work, because the Mane 6 in this episode are all too stupid (or too preoccupied with dressmaking) to figure it out.

The Mane 6 all panic and scramble to find the real games inspector. Twilight Sparkle says something very characteristic of her:

Twilight Sparkle: There’s got to be another pony with flower print luggage around here somewhere.
Rainbow Dash: Except that there isn’t.
Twilight Sparkle: We’ve gotta find her before Cadance finds out what a mess we’ve made of things.

Here’s her worry about letting authority figures down once more. While we’ve known since the start of the show that she feels this way about pleasing Celestia, this episode shows us that Twilight’s attitude towards authority isn’t exclusive to her mentor. I bet she can also easily imagine Cadance getting mad at her, even though she’s the most understanding and laid-back princess we’ve met.

The Mane 6 then see Ms. Harshwhinny talking to Ms. Peachbottom at a spa together. While Ms. Harshwhinny gripes that she hasn’t even gotten a tour of the Crystal Empire in the first place, Ms. Peachbottom is joyed by her visit and is thinking of staying a few extra days. It’s quite fun to see the games inspector juxtaposed with the pony who the Mane 6 mistook for her. Seeing them side by side makes it clear that aside from having a flower print luggage, they could not be more different.

Rainbow Dash: When I was a little filly, I wanted so badly for Cloudsdale to win the Equestria Games, but… it didn’t happen.
Rainbow Dash: So I thought I could make up for that disappointment by helping the Crystal Empire win the chance to host the games! But… it looks like I ruined your chances instead.

In the end, it is Rainbow Dash, not Twilight Sparkle, who admits the truth to Cadance. While normally it would make sense for Twilight to come clean to her authority figure, the Equestria Games are a special thing for Rainbow Dash more than anyone else. It’s interesting and mature of her that instead of trying in vain to get Cloudsdale to host the games again, she’s trying to prevent a different place from feeling the same pain she did.

Ms. Peachbottom: Not so fast, speedy!
Ms. Harshwhinny: I just finished hearing about how this pony was just treated to the warmest, funnest, most fabulous reception she ever had.
Ms. Peachbottom: Darn tootin’!
Ms. Harshwhinny: Courtesy of these fine ponies right here! Which, in my expert opinion, amounts to the first ever unvarnished, unrehearsed, and unbiased appraisal of a potential host of the Equestria Games.

What I’m getting here is that in all her time searching for hosts of the Equestria Games, Ms. Harshwhinny wanted to see places for what they truly are, not through some flamboyant introduction that excessively advertises the place. And all this happened through a happy accident, I guess. While it’s nice to see the Mane 6’s clumsy shenanigans work out in the end and confirm the Crystal Empire as the host of the next Equestria Games, the accidents they encounter along the way make this episode’s moral a little unfocused.

Fun fact: all the events of this episode happened within the timeline of Just for Sidekicks.

In the spirit of going full circle, this episode ends with another tie-in to Just for Sidekicks. I have to admit, I’m a big sucker for whenever two episodes of a show tie in with each other like they do here. It’s a joy to see once-mysterious scenes make sense, and once-familiar scenes taken out of context so that they make no sense. But one thing that doesn’t change between the two episodes’ perspectives is that Fluttershy’s gentle “oh my goodness” after the suitcases are knocked down is an absolute treasure.

And to finish this episode off, we now understand why the Mane 6 didn’t react strongly to the strange sounds they heard from below their seats. They have all had a crazy day too, and they’re willing to relax on the ride home and not think too hard about anything else.

Overall thoughts:

The main problem with this episode is that its plot hinges on the Mane 6 being too stupid to ask the “games inspector” for her name or deduce that they have the wrong pony. While humorous to watch, those antics took up the majority of this episode without much variation. But this episode, like just about any other in MLP, does plenty of things well! I like the arc of Rainbow Dash reacting to her bitter childhood memories by preventing others from experiencing the kind of pain she did, and it’s always a joy to introduce a new character through a fakeout (though Ms. Harshwhinny doesn’t really do anything after season 4 ends).

Grade: C

I have to admit, this episode was easily the most boring to analyze out of anything in season 3. Not that this is a bad episode, just that it doesn’t lend itself well to intensive analysis.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • I’m obligated to mention that in the flashback near the start, the stallion with a rainbow mane who Rainbow Dash stood on was all we knew about Rainbow Dash’s family for a long time. It’s weird that it took so long for us to meet Rainbow Dash’s family, but it makes sense why: she has no biological siblings, and she kept her parents out of the loop out of embarrassment at how they’d react to her feats.
  • I’ve seen enough of King of the Hill lately that I expected Ms. Peachbottom to say “I tell you hwat” in one of the passages I quoted. Unfortunately, she merely says “I tell you” before moving to the next clause. (King of the Hill is so good, I’m glad I’m finally watching through it in earnest like I had been meaning to do for years.)
  • Look at the shape of the staircase tunnel that Twilight Sparkle is walking through. Why and how is that staircase so steep? This can’t possibly be a safe architectural decision, can it???

… And just like that, we’re finally ready to analyze the iconic (and polarizing) Magical Mystery Cure!!! But that’ll be next week, of course.

See you next week (possibly two weeks from now?) for my first ever post that takes up only one episode. I expect that it’ll be one of my longest episode reviews yet!

>> Part 28: Magical Mystery Cure

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