Season 4, Episodes 17-18
Season 4 Episode 17: Somepony to Watch Over Me
In five words: Apple Bloom struggles with trust.
Premise: Apple Bloom is left to watch over Sweet Apple Acres while the rest of her family is gone, but Applejack frustratingly won’t stop being overprotective. Apple Bloom thus sets out on her own to prove herself capable of being on her own.
To start the episode, Apple Bloom and her fellow Cutie Mark Crusaders listen in on an unintelligible conversation between her immediate family, then Granny Smith breaks the good news: Apple Bloom has been deemed old enough to watch over Sweet Apple Acres on her own for the afternoon. Apple Bloom keeps up a serious image through this big decision, but as soon as she thinks her family can’t hear her, she and the other two Crusaders break into excitement. This scene establishes the episode as one focused on the difficulties of growing up and gaining your family’s trust, an experience that’s familiar to many viewers of the show. To younger viewers, this episode is likely to be immediately relatable; to older viewers, it’ll more likely bring back older memories, or maybe even remind them of their own children or younger family members.
While the other Apples prepare for their journey to deliver pies to some dangerous places, Applejack gives her sister a long, detailed list of chores and instructions to take care of. Here’s where I’ll address probably the most common criticism of this episode: Applejack being extremely overbearing.
Apple Bloom’s excited and proud reactions to being allowed home alone are completely understandable and familiar to me. As kids grow up, they tend to get excited about doing things on their own and being big and responsible and doing whatever’s needed to keep their trust high and steady. But Applejack’s extreme degrees of protection seem very… extreme. This is a problem the Cutie Mark Crusaders’ episodes sometimes fall into: the kids’ motives seem much more believable than the adults’ motives. Perhaps you could argue it’s a matter of skewed perspective on the kids’ part, but it’s still undeniably an issue. I suppose the best way for me to interpret Applejack’s behavior is her tendency to get carried away with making everything perfect. Under this interpretation, this trait of hers obstructs her ability to let Apple Bloom do things on her own.
Unlike Applejack, Big Macintosh is highly committed to getting this task done on time. Props to him.
Applejack: I was just fretting a bit about Apple Bloom. Do you think she’s gonna be OK on her own?
Big Macintosh: Eeyup.
Applejack: (sigh) I just keep on thinking of things I forgot to put on her list. Like, I didn’t write down that if she wants to get a spoon out of the drawer, she needs to open the drawer first.
(Big Macintosh rolls his eyes)
Applejack: I know I’m probably just being silly.
Big Macintosh: Eeyup.
Applejack: But I know I’d feel a heap better if I could just check on Apple Bloom one last time.
I feel like the excessiveness of Applejack’s behavior is mitigated a little bit by having Big Macintosh as a counterpoint: someone who feels she’s being ridiculous but doesn’t express his thoughts with enough words to get Applejack to reconsider. The line about getting a spoon out of a drawer is an extreme example of one of Applejack’s weirdest traits: her tendency to overthink everything, which momentarily causes her to think Apple Bloom is extremely stupid.
Apple Bloom completes her list of tasks successfully and proudly gets some time where she can decide what to do on her own, but right when Applejack comes in…
This scene hurts so hard. Startled by Applejack’s sudden entrance, Apple Bloom trips and makes a mess of everything, and Applejack decides to revoke the privileges it took so long for her sister to earn. For Apple Bloom, this is nothing short of a slap to the face. Perhaps for viewers who have to watch over their children or younger siblings, this scene is meant to tell them to be easier on trusting their younger relatives? Regardless, this scene hurts hard and Applejack kicks her perfectionism into extra high gear.
Applejack: I never thought about how dangerous things are around here.
Apple Bloom: Thanks, but I’m really gonna be OK.
Applejack: You are now. Because I’m here, and I’m staying. No way am I leaving my little baby sister home alone all by herself.
Apple Bloom: I’m not a baby! I can take care of myself.
Here’s the difficult part about being siblings with such a large age gap, specifically an age gap large enough that the older one can remember when the younger one was a baby. The older sibling may have difficulty accepting that the younger one is growing up and isn’t a baby anymore, but it’s a truth that the older one will have to face whether they like it or not. Applejack had mentioned in the last episode that she remembers the day of Apple Bloom’s birth, and this episode cements that they have a large enough age difference that their relationship can sometimes be more like a parent and child.
Apple Bloom: And what about those pies you’re supposed to deliver?
Applejack: Pies? Huh. Family’s way more important than pies.
And here Applejack is, coming up with a frustrating last-ditch excuse for abandoning her pie delivery mission. Again, the best way I can tie this in with Applejack’s usual character is her getting carried away with perfectionism.
From Apple Bloom’s perspective, all this must come off like a harsh punishment.
In a desperate attempt to prove her worth to Applejack, Apple Bloom tries getting soup out of the fridge as per the list’s instructions, but she makes a mess yet again. This leads Applejack to treat her sister like a baby harder than ever before. This episode is exploring an unusual side of Applejack’s character: the side that unintentionally belittles others while trying desperately to make everything foolproof. We also got to see this side of her in Apple Family Reunion with her attempts to make the reunion go 100% perfectly, and that’s the weird thing about Applejack. Her flaws like perfectionism, while they do add depth to her character, can come off as much more annoying than those of the other Mane 6. Obviously you can’t make a good and interesting character without giving them flaws, and in later seasons excessive honesty becomes a more prominent flaw of hers; this transition is already in progress, actually.
Compared to Applejack, I think Apple Bloom’s portrayal in this episode is done just about perfectly. Everything she does feels very much in-character for her, including her reactions to Applejack being overbearing.
For Apple Bloom, the mere sound of Applejack’s voice has probably become unbearable.
(Speaking of voices, Sweetie Belle’s voice has been cracking a lot this season.)
Apple Bloom is making clever use of her backup bows, which parallel Applejack’s backup hats.
Frustrated with her sister doting over her, Apple Bloom has an idea. She decides to prove her worth to Applejack by bringing her cart of pies to the faraway town all by herself; a risky plan, but exactly the sort of plan she would come up with. Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo assist in this plan by taking turns impersonating Apple Bloom in bed, wearing her bow so that Applejack has a greater chance of being fooled. This is a common pattern with the Cutie Mark Crusaders: they come up with plans that sound amazing on paper, but it never takes long until they’re caught.
Wait, I don’t remember this episode having a musical numb—
Does this six-second song Apple Bloom sings before getting interrupted even count as a musical number? It’s not listed in the episode’s credits, but I’m sure some fans have gotten into heated debates about how many musical numbers season 4 has because of whether this counts. Personally, I think the fun of counting many sorts of things, whether they be Super Mario games or dialects of a language or musical numbers in MLP, is debating over edge cases and things that maybe count. I will leave you to decide whether this counts as a musical number instead of weighing your opinion with a stance of my own, because I sure can’t decide.
Apple Bloom sneaks out the window to get to the pie cart, but she lands on a big stack of hay arranged like stairs that Applejack put there. This is unintentionally genuinely helpful to Apple Bloom’s schemes, showing that having a big sister to look after her isn’t always bad. Just as long as that big sister knows her limits.
And her incessant checking on Sweetie Belle posing as Apple Bloom proves that she doesn’t know her limits. Or maybe the fact that she doesn’t open the blanket and blow Sweetie Belle’s cover shows that she does know her limits? Either way, this episode is soon to show us the good side of Applejack being so protective.
Applejack: (sigh) Look at you dozing so peaceful-like.
Applejack: Here I am checking up on you every five seconds. And you’re totally fine! Maybe you don’t need me fretting over you all the time.
Scootaloo: (gasps) Wow! Apple Bloom will be so glad to hear that!
Scootaloo expressing excitement from within the closet is all it takes for her and Sweetie Belle’s cover to be blown. It looks like Scootaloo forgot that she and Sweetie Belle were supposed to take turns posing as Apple Bloom in bed, or she forgot about keeping up the scheme in general. The Cutie Mark Crusaders’ plans often fall apart at the worst possible moments, and this is a good example.
You remember Smarty Pants, right? Twilight Sparkle’s doll from Lesson Zero who she purposely made the Cutie Mark Crusaders fight over, then accidentally made all of Ponyville fight over? In the end, Big Macintosh nabbed the doll all for himself, and here we see Smarty Pants again, hiding under Apple Bloom’s bed. Could it be that Big Macintosh absolutely did not want his family to know he was playing with dolls, like a brony who won’t admit it to his family, and thus regularly hid the doll under Apple Bloom’s bed? Or did he get bored of the doll quickly and decide to hide the doll under the bed so that no one would think much of it? Or did he eagerly play with the doll and misplace it one fateful day? Either way, Smarty Pants’ presence in this scene is some excellent attention to detail.
Anyway, small details aside, Applejack is terrified when she learns that Apple Bloom has set out on the pie delivery her big sister was supposed to make, showing that she genuinely cares about her little sister and doesn’t want her going off to dangerous places.
Applejack tells the other two Crusaders that Rarity is going to look after them, then asks if Apple Bloom brought some very specific items like flameproof boots and a snake-taming flute. This shows the advantage of Applejack being so detail-oriented: she comes prepared to deal with genuinely dangerous situations. Her main problem here is that she doesn’t know when to cool it off with being so detailed and thorough, like when she’s organizing a family reunion that’s supposed to be fun.
As excited as I am to get to Maud Pie’s debut episode, I’m honestly having a lot of fun with this one too.
And the last third is where the episode starts going in surprising directions. A mundane episode about a kid being trusted to do things on her own has turned into an adventure where she traverses a deadly forest with flames that burn her map and then encounters a fierce creature. Apple Bloom got wrapped up in a tense adventure all by herself, making for an unexpected twist on a typical episode of a show where a kid struggles to gain their guardians’ trust.
And here’s we see why Applejack asked about so many specific pieces of equipment and protective gear. It turns out that those would all come in handy for Apple Bloom to deal with this three-headed creature. As is typical of a child character, Apple Bloom tends to dive into situations headfirst, contrasting against how Applejack comes crazy prepared. The chimera proves to be one of the scariest creatures yet when she threatens to eat Apple Bloom alive alongside all the pie.
Though she came unprepared for this monster, Apple Bloom soon enough proves her bravery after she loses hold of the cart. She gets the chimera tangled up by its snake part, then gets the cart back, pushes it up a steep hill, and rolls it down, which is just plain awesome.
But then, the scene lapses into humor when the chimera proves itself a thematically fitting villain for this episode. The three animal heads who constitute it get into an argument about whose fault all this was, and they think Apple Bloom doesn’t know what it’s like to have a sister watching over her shoulder. Normally the dangerous monsters who characters in this show encounter don’t have any personality to them, and while they don’t really need to have much personality, it’s quite a lot of fun when they do.
I wonder if Big Macintosh similarly had to deal with ferocious creatures offscreen?
He probably fared fine, since he is pretty strong.
And then Applejack comes and saves the day in a big moment of awesome, dealing with the chimera one head at a time. She uses the flute to put the snake head to sleep, gets the tiger head’s teeth stuck in a tree, and satiates the goat head with some food. It’s here when Apple Bloom realizes the benefits of having a big sister looking after her…
… and it’s here when Applejack realizes her little sister is responsible after all. After Applejack rescues her, Apple Bloom reveals that she managed to keep the cart safe the entire time, which leaves Applejack impressed and proud.
Applejack: The cart! And all the pies! You actually got them all the way up here? In the dark? Through the flame geyser swamp? Past that monster? … By yourself?
Apple Bloom: Well… yeah.
Applejack: Huh! Wow. That’s mighty impressive.
Applejack: Anypony who can do that on her own, well… she don’t need somepony like me babying her.
I must say, it’s always nice when both the older sibling and younger sibling learn something in a MLP episode. It matches well with how MLP has people of all ages and backgrounds watching it, not just little girls; the show thus has friendship lessons designed around its varied audience. Applejack learns when to let a younger family member do things alone, and Apple Bloom learns when to let an older one look after her.
The residents of the swamp village greatly enjoy the Apple family’s pie, making the delivery mission a success. While Applejack is at first furious at her sister for sneaking off on her own like that, she then says that she will trust Apple Bloom to be on her own the next time the rest of the family has to go somewhere. This ends the episode with a nice moment of catharsis that shows the Cutie Mark Crusaders are starting to grow up.
This episode gets off to a rough start with Applejack being ridiculously overbearing to Apple Bloom, but it ends on a very satisfying note that has left me feeling positive about it overall. The whole episode is a well-done coming of age story, where Apple Bloom feels more than ready to look after the house on her own, but Applejack is very reluctant to trust her until Apple Bloom proves herself through a surprising adventure scene and the two reconcile. All in all, it’s a good way to convey to viewers that people aren’t going to be little kids forever, and you’ll eventually have to trust them to do things on their own.
The last third of this episode is downright awesome and makes up for any of Applejack’s obnoxiousness.
- On the topic of how many Super Mario games there are, please watch this video which aims to answer that very question if you have the time. I love that video so much.
- For something actually related to this episode, I’ll say that I really did forget that this episode has a short interrupted pseudo-musical number; probably because it’s only six seconds long. The root “pseudo-” is attached to the entire phrase “musical number”, not just to the word “musical”.
- It appears as though Scootaloo spent the entire night sleeping in the closet while Sweetie Belle got a nice, comfy bed. I wonder if this fueled fan theories that Scootaloo is used to sleeping in a dark, dusty closet instead of proper bedding? I know she was always a big subject of homelessness-related theories.
Continuing the alternation between episodes that are and aren’t focused on the Cutie Mark Crusaders, the next one introduces us to one of the Mane 6’s older siblings.
Season 4 Episode 18: Maud Pie
In five words: Introducing Pinkie Pie’s polar opposite.
Premise: The Mane 6 meet Pinkie Pie’s sister named Maud Pie, who turns out to be extremely deadpan and difficult to talk to.
Before I start running through this episode, I’d like to analyze its title. Maud Pie is the only character in MLP:FiM whose name is also the name of an episode. The fact that her debut episode is simply called “Maud Pie” suggests to me that she was originally envisioned to simply be a one-off character. However, Maud Pie ended up very popular among fans, and she became a regular recurring character from the fifth season onwards. While it’s common in many shows for a one-off character to become a regular member of the cast, MLP has had it happen especially many times, and I’m surprised the people working on the show didn’t anticipate Maud Pie’s high popularity. Or maybe they did to some extent? Whatever the case, let’s go ahead and start this episode!
This episode starts with the Mane 6 entering Pinkie Pie’s place extremely early in the morning. Pinkie Pie has spent the whole night preparing a rock candy necklace for her sister Maud Pie. The enormous piles of candy make it clear that Pinkie Pie loves her sister very, very dearly—that much is never in question. It takes much longer for the episode to demonstrate that Maud Pie returns her sisterly affection, and the episode focuses on gradually uncovering Maud’s inner warm heart.
Pinkie Pie gets her friends to taste test all her flavors of candy, and they all feel sick when they’re only halfway through. If you watch this scene knowing what Maud Pie is like, this is a demonstration of Pinkie Pie’s insecure side. She will go to enormous lengths to please her sister because she often feels she isn’t good enough for Maud, or her acts of sisterly love could never compare to Maud’s. But such is why their sisterly relationship works: Pinkie Pie is extremely eager to please, and Maud Pie knows that Pinkie doesn’t have to do much to make her happy.
I hope viewers know that in reality, rock candy isn’t made from rocks.
Pinkie Pie explains that the rock necklaces are not just for Maud Pie, but something that the two will do together with the Mane 6. She gives an exposition sequence about her family’s rock candy necklace tradition, done in an art style shift loosely reminiscent of the art style shift in A Friend in Deed. This time, the art style is sketchy drawings on notebook paper, and the drawings show Pinkie Pie and Maud Pie smiling equally; a demonstration of how Pinkie Pie sees their relationship, especially considering that Pinkie Pie drew these pictures herself. This makes it all the more shocking when we meet Maud Pie in person, but all the more heartwarming when we see firsthand how much they care about each other.
I have decided that parenthesization of text in transcripts can also indicate whispering.
Rainbow Dash: Hold on. The secret ingredient is rocks?!
Pinkie Pie: Yeah! But these are a special kind of rock that Maud discovered.
Fluttershy: Oh. What kind of a rock are they?
Pinkie Pie: Can’t tell you that, silly! (It’s a secret.)
This passage debunks any idea viewers may have that in the MLP universe, rocks are perfectly edible. Rocks are still plain old rocks to most ponies, but the Pie family is one that takes rocks very seriously. This passage suggests two things about Maud Pie that prove to be true: her frighteningly expansive knowledge of all things related to rocks, and her defiance of logical sense that she shares with Pinkie Pie. This episode is an incredibly fun one to rewatch, especially after later episodes that expand on Maud Pie’s character.
Pinkie Pie further demonstrates how she sees the best in Maud Pie by being extremely excited for her to visit Ponyville for a week and listing traits that Maud supposedly has in common with each of the Mane 6. Though Pinkie Pie sometimes makes leaps of logic to convince herself everything will be fine, here she truly believes that the Mane 6 and Maud Pie will instantly become the best of friends.
While Pinkie Pie leaves for the train station her sister will be arriving at, the rest of the Mane 6 set up a picnic and bring their pets. Rarity comes in wearing a hat decorated with rocks while complaining about how difficult it was to make and how the rocks keep falling off, even though no one told her to make a rock-themed hat. This is something she did completely on her own volition, since Pinkie Pie told her that Maud likes expressing herself through fashion, and Rarity took that statement extremely seriously. Rarity’s difficulty in making a comfortable outfit themed around rocks shows how bizarre Maud’s obsession with rocks is, though after the later episodes where Maud appears, I have become desensitized to it. Anyway, I think it says something that Rarity is the one who put the most work into preparing herself for Maud Pie’s visit. She will always do crazy things to please others, and she views Maud Pie as she would a fashion client of hers.
Pinkie Pie arrives at the picnic, then Maud Pie slowly walks there in a comically drawn-out sequence. And what’s the first thing she says to any of the Mane 6?
It’s not a “hello” or a “how are you doing” or a “nice to meet you”. Her eyes are immediately drawn to a rock, which she sniffs, picks up, and remarks is sedimentary. Maud Pie comes across as someone who has difficulty socializing and naturally gravitates towards her unusual obsessions instead, and now that I think of it, many bronies probably can relate to her eccentric, antisocial nature. While my main reason for liking Maud Pie is her amazingly dry sense of humor, I also find it pretty cool that she’s so genuinely passionate about rocks.
When Twilight Sparkle introduces herself and the rest of her friends to Maud Pie, all she does in response is blink. Again, this comes off to me like Maud Pie is very socially awkward, and the fact that Pinkie Pie hyped her sister up so much says a lot about how tight their relationship is. Pinkie and Maud could have easily been a pair of siblings that grew distant over the years, but their friendship has remained tight-knit all this time, which is sweet when you think about it.
Pinkie Pie was right in a way about Maud Pie liking fashion: a pony regularly wearing clothing is the exception, not the rule. At least in Ponyville.
Rarity: Pinkie Pie tells me you share my love for fashion!
Maud Pie: I’m really into expressing myself through my wardrobe.
Rarity: A-and what is the delightful frock you’re wearing now saying?
Maud Pie: It doesn’t talk. It’s a dress.
Rarity: Yes… of course. I just meant, (unintelligible stammering)
I can’t decide if Maud Pie is being literal-minded like Pinkie Pie when saying her dress doesn’t talk, or if she’s purposely screwing with Rarity here. Either way, lines like this that subvert expectations and send other ponies into incoherent stammering are part of what I love about Maud Pie.
Does Boulder even count as a character in this show? I’m asking real questions here.
When asked about her pet, which Pinkie Pie had told the Mane 6 she has, Maud Pie reveals that her pet is a rock named Boulder, and I once again can’t decide if calling this rock her “pet” is part of her sense of humor or not. But one thing’s for certain: this is a rock that she truly holds a lot of attachment to, and it’s clear that she’s the type who views inanimate objects as friends. That’s another trait that I don’t think is too unrealistic for such an antisocial character.
The humor and subversions of expectations continue when Applejack offers for Maud Pie to try one of Granny Smith’s muffins, but she eats the rock that fell out of Rarity’s hat instead. This girl masterfully blurs the line between intentionally and unintentionally being weird, and I love how the very notion of eating rocks makes absolutely no sense to anyone outside the Pie family. It’s completely nonsensical why some ponies would freely eat rocks while others don’t, but I can easily chalk it up to the rule of funny.
Pinkie Pie had said that Maud Pie loves games just like Rainbow Dash, and Maud Pie says that she and Boulder like to play a game called camouflage, supposedly like hide and seek but way more intense. But when Maud Pie reveals the rock was in her pocket the whole time, she reveals another thing she has in common with Rainbow Dash: a love of pranks. Funny enough, Rainbow Dash is extremely unamused at this.
Pinkie Pie and Maud Pie walk off together, with their characteristic happy and neutral expressions respectively, and then the rest of the Mane 6 talk about how strange this day has been.
Rainbow Dash: We spent all day digging in the dirt, and he was in her pocket the whole time?!
Fluttershy: On the bright side, Boulder seemed really sweet.
Rainbow Dash: HE’S A ROCK!!!
I love how Fluttershy is willing to give Maud Pie the benefit of the doubt and play along with her seeing Boulder as a sentient being, whereas Rainbow Dash very insistently does NOT buy into any of that stuff. Rainbow Dash thinks anyone who eats rocks or treats them as sentient beings is completely out of their mind, and it’s funny how heavily trolled she’s been throughout this episode. And even though she insists Boulder is nothing more than a rock, she can’t help but refer to the rock using male pronouns.
Twilight Sparkle and Applejack suggest that Maud Pie may have just been shy or nervous, and I’m sure there’s some truth to that. Twilight thus suggests that each of them spend some time with Maud Pie one-on-one, which is not a bad idea but leads to more humor for the audience and frustration for the Mane 6.
I love the usage of falling rocks as a transition device. Please appreciate it.
And so, Maud Pie hangs out with members of the Mane 6 one by one. Rarity offers to pick out fabrics that would suit Maud Pie well, but Maud has her eyes set on a dirty dish towel. Rarity thinks it’s a joke at first, but when she finds out it isn’t, she gets flustered and awkward, uncertain how to maintain her confident composure. Maud Pie rejects Rarity’s offer to sew a bunch of dish towels together and instead uses the one towel all alone as a scarf; a bizarre fashion choice that I yet again can’t decide how sincere it is.
While hanging out with Fluttershy, Maud Pie pays no attention to the animals around her, instead fixating entirely on—you guessed it—rocks. She pays attention to and is intrigued by very different things from most ponies, and it’s clear that her brain in general works differently from most ponies. I hope it’s not weird that I’m starting to think Maud Pie may have autism or some related disorder, because she seriously shows a lot of signs. And if you think autism means nothing more than having low intelligence, please read up on the topic so that you can correct those annoying misconceptions. You might be surprised!
Next in line to be weirded out by Maud Pie is Twilight Sparkle. Maud Pie, who Pinkie claimed is a huge bookworm, recites several poems of hers; she’s written thousands of poems, and they’re all about rocks. I know what it’s like to have written WAY too much about one specific topic, whether it be large numbers or works of media like the words you’re reading right now. I think ultra-specific obsessions are something that many bronies will have no trouble relating to.
It’s a lot of fun seeing Maud Pie interact with each of the Mane 6 one by one, though I imagine Applejack is especially weirded out by her demeanor given that they’re ambiguously related. Maud Pie bluntly says that the apple cider she helped make tastes like apples, and Pinkie Pie confirms that Maud Pie is super honest.
This episode has been showing us a lot about the versatility of rocks.
Rainbow Dash competes with Maud Pie in throwing rocks. Rainbow Dash thinks she did an impressive throw, and Maud Pie responds by throwing a bigger rock so hard and far that it causes the ground to rumble and generates a gigantic wave, which is downright incredible to watch.
Rainbow Dash: Whoa! How’d you do that?
Maud Pie: I threw it.
Rainbow Dash: I… guess you won this one, Maud.
Maud Pie: I’m not really into “winning”.*
Rainbow Dash: (gasps)
Maud Pie loves giving non-answers to questions and interpreting them in the most literal way possible. I think it’s more fun to imagine she’s being sincerely literal-minded than deliberately messing with others’ minds, though with Maud Pie maybe there’s not much of a difference.
* I’m choosing to interpret this pause as quotation marks instead of an ellipsis. Hope that’s OK.
Pinkie Pie is excited for her friends to start making rock candy necklaces with Maud Pie, but she can tell from their expressions that something’s wrong. The rest of the Mane 6 gradually admit that they haven’t gotten along with Maud Pie that well, and Applejack is fittingly the one who spits out the honest truth. This is a very interesting and upsetting friendship problem: if you simply aren’t able to bond with someone who your friend has been so excited for you to meet, what are you supposed to do about it? Naturally enough, all the awkwardness and uncertainty eventually leads Maud Pie to demonstrate how deeply she loves her sister.
I wonder if there are fans who decided to become huge rock nerds after watching this episode?
(I don’t mean rock as in the genre of music, obviously.)
Rarity: I feel awful! Just awful.
Fluttershy: Maybe we should’ve just pretended we were friends with Maud.
Twilight Sparkle: If we didn’t tell Pinkie Pie that we hadn’t all become the best of friends, I think Maud would have.
Rainbow Dash: Maybe, but who really knows? That pony is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an igneous.
Rarity: Don’t you mean… inside an enigma?
Rainbow Dash: Nope. I mean igneous. It’s a kind of rock. Ask me how I know that.
I feel like unlike the rest of her friends, Rainbow Dash has been deep down fascinated by Maud Pie’s unusual ways, and about rocks in general. She’s playing with a rock while all her friends are talking, perhaps pondering how she can possibly get a read on this mysterious pony. Pinkie Pie then enters the room and bounces in excitement that conceals desperation, saying that she’s come up with the perfect idea to bring her friends and sister closer together:
How exactly did Pinkie assemble this huge pile of rocks?
Probably in some sort of hyper-fast cartoon montage.
It’s a huge contraption combining interests of each of the characters involved, and she calls it “Pinkie-Rainbow-Rari-Twi-Apple-Flutter-Maud Fun Time”. Pinkie Pie’s exuberant laughter is her typical way of covering up her despair about how her friends and sister haven’t been able to bond well, since she did not put any thought into how much fun this… thing she invented would actually be. Or more importantly, how safe it would be.
The rest of the Mane 6 all look confused at this, while Maud Pie looks deadpan as ever. It’s clear to me how desperate Pinkie Pie is here; it looks like she felt the rock candy necklace idea wasn’t good enough and thus threw together a dangerous obstacle course in the hopes that that would get her friends to bond with Maud.
Pinkie Pie goes through the obstacle course as a demonstration, and she shows how little she thought of safety when she gets her hoof stuck in the last part of the course, which is a rock slide for Maud. A huge rock at the top of the hill comes tumbling down, one that’s probably too big for Rarity or Twilight to shatter apart with unicorn magic. With this life-threatening situation, who steps up and saves Pinkie Pie?
That’s right, none other than Maud Pie. She puts on a tough hat and blasts her way through the obstacle course. I’m guessing her reason for progressing through the applesauce slide instead of skipping to the last part is to generate enough momentum for her to do something jaw-dropping:
She destroys the falling rock using nothing but her bare hooves, much to the rest of the Mane 6’s shock. Is this the doing of her earth pony strength, reality-bending powers she has in common with Pinkie Pie, or the effect of the sheer love she has for her sister? Probably a mix of all three. This is such an awesome way to demonstrate how much Maud Pie cares about her sister: she’s normally extremely deadpan, but when her sister’s life is at stake, she immediately leaps to action.
Amusingly, Rainbow Dash is shocked at this the most of all.
After Maud Pie breaks the rocks that Pinkie Pie got her hoof caught in, she, not Pinkie, is the one who initiates a hug. This is such a perfect way to demonstrate how much of a fiercely protective sister Maud is. Beneath her stoic demeanor, she loves her sister more than anything else in the world.
Maud Pie: Pinkie Pie, what were you thinking?
Pinkie Pie: I guess I wasn’t.
Maud Pie: I know how important it is to you that your friends become my friends, but I just don’t think it’s going to happen. I think you would be best if I just go back to the rock farm and spend the rest of the week there.
Maud Pie: It was nice to meet you all. Makes me happy knowing Pinkie Pie has such good friends.
Here’s where Maud Pie finally shows some proper emotion, and it’s such a stunning thing to see. Even though she has normally has trouble expressing herself and connecting with others, there’s no way to overstate how much she loves her sister. That last line here shows that as obsessed she is with rocks, there’s nothing she values more than Pinkie Pie’s happiness. It’s a very sweet scene, but it’s also sort of a downer because Maud Pie leaves for the rock farm right after, and Pinkie follows her because they never got to make their rock candy necklaces.
And only after Maud Pie cuts her trip short do the Mane 6 realize how cool she really is, which is very believable; not appreciating how cool someone is until after you’re done spending time with them. Rainbow Dash, who was previously the most weirded out by Maud Pie, is impressed at how quickly she came to the rescue, and while none of them are sure how she was able to destroy such a gigantic rock, Fluttershy remarks that this demonstrates how deeply Maud cares for her sister.
Maud Pie: Thank you for coming with me. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone on my rock research trip. I’m glad I still got to spend some time with you before I go.
Pinkie Pie: Me too. I’m sorry I put so much pressure on everypony to bond. I only wanted my friends to get to know my amazing older sister.
Here’s where it becomes clear how much Pinkie Pie looks up to her older sister, which is very sweet; also the first time it’s confirmed that Maud is the older sister. On the surface, it may seem like they have nothing in common, but their sharp contrast makes their similarities stand out. They both tend to be literal-minded and misunderstand social cues, they both have wacky senses of humor, and most of all, they share a deep, resounding love for their family. While Maud Pie stuck to her family’s long history of working with rocks, Pinkie Pie also participates in rock-related traditions because she loves spending time with her family.
It turns out that Twilight Sparkle and the others followed Pinkie and Maud to the rock farm, bringing bags of rock candy with them so they can finish the family tradition. This is where Twilight explains what she realized. It turns out she and her other friends have something in common with Maud Pie after all, specifically a love of Pinkie Pie. Maud Pie’s only response to this is “sure”.
This image nicely symbolizes the contrast between the sisters.
Pinkie Pie: What’s wrong?
Rarity: Sorry, darling. I think we all just thought she’d be a bit more excited about this.
Pinkie Pie: Are you kidding me? I’ve never seen her more excited in my entire life!
Maud Pie: I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I don’t show my enthusiasm for things quite in the same way my sister does.
Maud Pie has a good point here. It’s a fact of life that not everyone outwardly expresses their emotions, and she’s a very good example. Pinkie Pie expresses her emotions through extreme slapstick humor or freaky mental breakdowns, and Maud Pie is at the opposite extreme with her almost perpetually dry demeanor. Pinkie Pie and Maud Pie in general represent contrasting extremes, which is why their dynamic works so well.
To end this episode, the Mane 6 bring rock candy necklaces to Maud Pie, and she gives one to Pinkie Pie, who’s very excited to eat it. The Mane 6 each took time to make their own custom necklace design; for example, Rainbow Dash designed hers to look like a lightning bolt, and Fluttershy made hers shaped like flowers. It’s sweet to see them finally view Maud Pie as a friend and give her something to remember them by, and this leads to a big heartwarming moment that ends the episode.
Aww, this is too sweet.
She finally smiles!
Twilight Sparkle: Are those all the necklaces Pinkie Pie sent you?
Maud Pie: Mhm.
Twilight Sparkle: You haven’t eaten any of them?
Maud Pie: I don’t really like candy. (smiles) But I do love Pinkie Pie.
This is an incredibly sweet way to end this episode. It turns out that while Pinkie Pie views rock candy necklaces as delicious treats, Maud Pie doesn’t eat them and instead keeps them all in a box that reminds her of the sister she loves. It becomes even more heartwarming when you consider that Maud Pie is perfectly capable of eating rocks but chooses not to eat the necklaces. After Maud’s last line, Pinkie Pie is shown happily eating her rock necklace, ending this episode with a sweet demonstration of their contrast.
This episode does a great job bringing a new addition to the show’s cast. As I said at the start of this review, Maud Pie makes many other appearances after this episode, and I’m very happy she does. Her stoic demeanor makes her stand out among the rest of the show’s cast, and yet she’s just as full of love for her friends as any other non-villain character. There’s so many more things the show can do with her character, and it seized that opportunity. It’s easy for me to see why Maud is so popular among fans: being socially awkward and having an extreme obsession to fixate on are things that many bronies can relate to. Not to mention that she’s extremely funny. The last few minutes do a perfect job showing how deeply she cares about Pinkie Pie, and it’s nice to see that her addition to the show’s cast was such a success. She also makes a good counterpoint to explore Pinkie Pie’s insecure side, as we’ll see in episodes like The Gift of the Maud Pie.
Maud Pie is awesome. Both the character and the episode.
- Hmm… I feel like this episode deserves at least one miscellaneous note. How about I say more about the designs of the necklaces the Mane 6 made? It’s clear that they had a lot of fun coming up with their own necklace designs, and I have to wonder if Pinkie Pie gave them pointers or if they figured out how to make such specially shaped rocks themselves. This especially holds for the apple-shaped rock from Applejack and the lightning bolt-shaped one from Rainbow Dash.
Next up is another episode I’ve been excited to get to for a long time. Who does the Sweetie Belle toil for anyway? Maybe we’ll find out together.
See you next week as I write a whole bunch of walls of text about Sweetie Belle.