Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 48: Princess Spike + Party Pooped


< Part 47 | Part 48 | Part 49 >

Season 5, Episodes 10-11

Season 5 Episode 10: Princess Spike

In five words: Spike does absolutely everything wrong.

Premise: While Twilight Sparkle is asleep in Canterlot for the day, Spike fills in for her event organization duties and gets carried away with his newfound freedom and authority. He starts doing some incredibly foolish things.

Detailed run-through:

Oh, boy. We’re at yet another controversial Spike episode now. When going through the show’s most controversial episodes, I usually dread going through them at first, but in the end I have quite a bit of fun picking them apart and giving honest criticism. So maybe this episode will be similar!

The very start of this episode has something I never noticed before: it takes place in the same building where the Grand Galloping Gala is hosted. I actually really like this location reuse. It’s logical and realistic, reminiscent of convention centers where different events are hosted throughout the year.

Note the bags under Twilight Sparkle’s eyes. She clearly worked herself a little too hard.

The event is called the Grand Equestria Pony Summit, and it features ponies from all around Equestria plus some griffons here and there. The princesses on stage present a statue made of gemstones from the cities where all the attendees live. Twilight Sparkle gives a little speech at the summit and mentions that organizing it has led to quite a few sleepless nights, which the guests in the audience don’t seem to think hard about even though she looks and sounds drowsy. Perhaps they think “sleepless nights” was a figure of speech, not something to take literally? Or do they think alicorns have a special power to remain wide awake as long as they like?

Regardless of all this, this episode cements itself as a storm of Spike episode tropes when Twilight Sparkle says he has a few words to say:

Spike: Um… hello, everypony! I’m here to help any way I can. So if there’s anything I can do for any of you…
Guest 1: We love you, Princess Twilight!
Guest 2: We love all the princesses!
(audience cheers)
Spike: (sigh) I guess everypony loves a princess.

This is how most Spike episodes so far have gone. Spike can never do anything right and keeps getting into painful mishaps with an exaggeration of his incompetence, until either a whole bunch of contrivances line up so that he gets to do something heroic, or his wise and competent friends teach him a lesson about what he did wrong. It’s a formula that’s really starting to get repetitive, both while watching the episodes and while analyzing them.

Serious question. How many times has Spike gotten hit by doors now? I don’t mind characters being the victim of slapstick, but this happening so early in a Spike episode feels like a rehash of prior Spike episodes: making him the brunt of jokes again and again until the end.

Since Twilight Sparkle has stayed up for three straight days, Cadance tells Spike to make sure Twilight isn’t disturbed so that she’s in good condition for the welcome reception. This brings me to another recurring problem with Spike episodes: they feel a need to neutralize other characters (in this case, Twilight) to give Spike time to shine. And here, it’s not even time to shine, but time to embarrass himself with a storm of mishaps.

Spike had just observed the bird with his telescope. How did he get up here??

If that wasn’t enough Spike episode tropes, Spike finds a total non-threat and makes a huge mess of things trying to deal with it. The first such thing is a bird chirping, who first enters the castle bedroom when Spike finds it, but then leaves it upon his request. But the next ones cause more trouble. First is a polo game that Spike asks to be relocated, supposedly on Twilight Sparkle’s behalf. Then comes a guy sawing off branches from a type of tree called “dragon-sneeze”, which as its name suggests makes dragons sneeze. Now in all fairness, a type of tree that causes dragons to sneeze doesn’t seem like too much of a contrivance to me. It makes sense for Canterlot to have planted such trees as defense against any dragons that might wreck it, and now that dragons don’t have much contact with ponies except for Spike, maybe Canterlot doesn’t have much of a need for all these trees anymore, and the trees dangerously swaying is a good excuse to take them down.

Still, though, in this episode the only purpose the dragon-sneeze trees serve is as a catalyst for Spike to screw things up. Spike episodes tend to devise entirely new things solely for the sake of him either screwing up or doing something heroic, and I’m not sure which is worse. And with the potential justification that Canterlot doesn’t need these trees anymore, that just makes Spike seem more irritatingly oblivious when he tells the guy to call it off on Twilight’s behalf.

And if that wasn’t enough, Spike then orders a guy with a jackhammer to keep quiet and do his work another time, even though he’s supposed to be fixing a broken pipe. As frustrating as Spike is being here, at least his motives make some sense if you think of it as him getting carried away with wanting to help out and be important. That’s not something you can say about Spike at Your Service. But let’s be real, saying “at least it’s not as bad as [notoriously bad episode]” only confirms that an episode isn’t good.

And it just gets worse because of course it does. Spike makes his way up to the castle where Twilight is sleeping, and then two ponies who have a schedule conflict at the summit approach him. They have to give speeches in five minutes in the same room, and they want to go to Twilight Sparkle to resolve this conflict. You know what Spike could have done? He could have asked one of the three other princesses involved in this event to resolve this situation. Surely at least one of them has a moment to spare! A possible defense would be that the two ponies with the conflict already asked Celestia, Luna, and Cadance, but I think it’s more likely that Twilight Sparkle was the first one they decided to go to because she’s the expert in organization and scheduling.

Yep, that’s right. Instead of defending Spike, I’ve chosen to defend these two minor characters who we probably never see after this episode. Is Spike in this episode even worth defending?! I mean, when I reviewed Spike at Your Service, I theorized that Spike was replaced with an evil time-traveling clone or whatever. But man, speculating that characters are changelings or impersonators or clones from parallel universes gets old after a while. If I keep repeating the same tropes in my episode reviews, would I be any better than the episode I’m tearing into?

It took a very close approach for Spike to wake Twilight up.
So why did he go through so much trouble to turn off all the noises outside?

Twilight Sparkle: Huh?
Spike: (screams)
Twilight Sparkle: Does something need scheduling?
Spike: Oh. Uh, yeah. Two delegates have speeches booked in the same hall. What do I do?
Twilight Sparkle: Okay, no problem. Just put the hay in the apple and eat the candle.
Spike: Huh?
Twilight Sparkle: (yawns)

Do you think that if Spike told the two squabbling ponies something like, “Princess Twilight says you need to put the hay in the apple and eat the candle”, they would follow through with it? Everyone at the event seems to take the princesses’ orders very seriously, including orders that pretend to be on their behalf. It wouldn’t be logical, but it would fit with the logic of this episode. I’m imagining the stallion in the blue suit cutting an apple open and stuffing some hay inside, and the mare in the winter outfit trying to eat a waxy candle on stage. And the audience is confused until the two of them go, “this is what Princess Twilight ordered us to do”, and then the audience nods and understands.

Sorry, this was incredibly stupid. But I needed to lighten the mood of this review because this episode is giving me a total headache. Why do I always subject myself to these ridiculous projects?!

Spike tells the two ponies with the conflict to share the room, and they agree to it because they trust the princess. Doesn’t Spike know anything about how the summit is organized? Didn’t he help the others set it up and cross off entries on Twilight Sparkle’s checklists? Or did he seriously come all this way to Canterlot just to slack off and do nothing until he’s tasked with keeping Twilight asleep? I can’t even make sense of this anymore.

Anyway, it turns out the two presenters sharing a room did not go well, and Spike is approached by an angry crowd. I have a big question that should have occurred to me sooner: why did none of the princesses tell the guests that Twilight Sparkle is asleep?! It seems like common sense to inform everyone presenting at a conference on who to go to if something goes wrong, and that includes telling them when the go-to person is unavailable. Making matters worse, no one in the crowd seems to have any idea who Spike is for some reason. Are his fame and recognition restricted entirely to the Crystal Empire? Or am I supposed to believe that most ponies in Equestria don’t know that their latest princess has a dragon sidekick who accompanies her more often than not? This whole episode makes less and less sense the more I think about it.

All the events in this episode could have been avoided so easily if Celestia, Luna, and Cadance accounted for Twilight being asleep better.

After giving one of the crowd members a perfectly sound piece of advice, specifically that you shouldn’t let a friendship end over taking your seat, Spike realizes that he can tell the guests anything as long as he says it came from Twilight. This leads to a wordless montage where Spike gives advice to various faces, some old, some new, all in the guise of saying it came from an important princess. While I can’t even begin to remember which minor background characters appear in each episode, I’m sure there are quite a lot that only ever appear in this painfully sloppy mess of an episode, and I find that tragic.

Oh, how I wish Fancy Pants’ second voiced appearance was in an episode even half as good as his first one.

After the montage is over, Spike gives advice to one last guest: our old friend Fancy Pants, who asks him if he could get passes to every meeting since he’s from the host city. Spike tells Fancy Pants that it wouldn’t be fair to everyone else and almost lets it slip that this is his own advice, then when he goes back inside, we see a big wall with charts and checklists and other things Twilight loves to make. Do you think Spike ever thought to consult these charts before making decisions? Actually, now that I think of it, it’s completely plausible that he did, which is why the summit didn’t seem to go too bad after that initial room-sharing mishap. Anyway, Spike gets out Twilight’s checklist and starts completing its entries in her name, leading to some further mishaps that I can skip over for the sake of my sanity.

Then comes an encounter with Cadance.

Cadance: Hey, Spike. What’s going on?
Spike: Aw, you know, just setting ‘em up and knocking ‘em down.
Cadance: What do you mean?
Spike: Not only have I kept things quiet so Twilight could sleep, I also took care of all her afternoon meetings so she won’t have to worry about them when she wakes up.
Cadance: Are you sure she’d want you doing that? There are so many things to keep track of at this summit.
Spike: Nah, don’t worry. I got it covered. I know Twilight so well, it’s easy to make decisions like her.

You know, as insufferable as he’s been throughout this episode, Spike has a point. Since Twilight Sparkle is asleep, wouldn’t it make sense for some of her duties to be assigned to him? I don’t understand why he hasn’t already been officially assigned to help the awake princesses with the summit as Twilight recovers from her strenuous work. I don’t understand why he didn’t help plenty with the event before Twilight fell asleep. What was he even doing all this time?! He’s supposed to be a dutiful assistant who enjoys helping out and happens to be a little self-absorbed, not… whatever this episode is trying to portray him as.

Even though she has a longtime pattern of excessively trusting Spike, Cadance can sense that he’s enjoying his newfound authority role a little too much. And let’s be real, why wouldn’t he? If he really had no involvement with summit organization beforehand, it must be nice for him to have something to do.

Spike promises to Cadance that all his actions are for the good of the summit; when she leaves, Spike crosses his fingers behind his back and laughs. Then, Spike does horrible, destructive things with his greed like… getting a massage, ordering cupcakes, and getting someone else to paint him? If this episode wasn’t already enough of a broken mess, this is the part where Spike is supposed to be at fault for using his excessive authority, even though the actions he’s doing here are completely harmless. The disaster that follows came solely from actions where he was genuinely trying to help Twilight stay asleep.

When all that is done, Spike meets up with Cadance again and talks about all the actions he’s done in Twilight’s name. Then he says:

Spike: (sigh) Okay. So maybe I did get a little carried away making decisions. But it’s not like anything bad happened.

Tempting fate is an extremely common trope in MLP:FiM, so much that Discord even lampshades it towards the end of the show. While there are many times fate has been tempted in clever ways, this is the most boring and predictable possible way to do it. It just feels so stupidly obvious that something bad is going to happen, and the bad thing isn’t hard to guess. Remember that cracked water pipe from earlier? I wonder what could happen to that?

Making matters worse, the cascade of disaster stems from one of the polo players making an abnormally far shot. Do you remember what Spike did with the polo game? He relocated it to be FURTHER away from the trees and water pipe! That was a good thing, because if he hadn’t done that, the water pipe would have probably burst far sooner. And look here: as indicated by the fence, the polo game’s current location is clearly something that Canterlot has officially sanctioned for polo usage. This episode is broken on so many levels, it’s unreal.

For any word ending in -o, I’m never sure whether to pluralize it with -s or -es.
Such are the most perilous dilemmas of life.

The polo ball hits a dragon sneeze tree, the trees collapse like dominoes, and the last tree bursts the water pipe open, flooding the entire room Spike is in. We’re supposed to believe this is the result of Spike getting carried away with authority, but everything Spike did that led to this was before he realized he could get others to do anything that he purports to be from Twilight. Plus, who’s to say the trees would have been chopped and the water dam fixed by now if Spike hadn’t intervened? I don’t know about you, but I think Canterlot needs to reconsider its safety regulations.

Man, what is it with Spike episodes and having others do something cool with their powers while Spike is painfully useless? Cadance uses a crystal-themed magic spell to stop the water pipe, while Spike tries getting rid of the water by, uh… dumping it out from a bowl onto a table? This just hurts to watch, and the water soon bursts out of the room anyway. If an episode focuses on a character, then that character should get to something cool at least once!

And yet, in this episode, Spike just makes more and more of a fool of himself. Him sneezing on the gem statue to break it apart is painful enough, but it especially irritates me that he only sneezes after he notices that there are dragon sneeze flowers. It’s like his brain decided he has to sneeze once he saw the flowers. I’m pretty sure that’s not how allergies are supposed to work.

All the guests at the event are frustrated by what all happened, especially Fancy Pants who played a big part in organizing it. But considering Fancy Pants is friends with Rarity, then… actually, come to think of it, it sort of makes sense that he wouldn’t know who Spike is. He didn’t come along with the rest of the Mane 6 to Canterlot for Twilight Sparkle’s birthday, so when he got to know all the Mane 6 after the party, that did not include Spike. I will say, it adds some depth to his character to see Fancy Pants at a breaking point. It turns out he’s not just a charming celebrity, but also something of an organizer, since he was the one who ordered the dragon sneeze trees to be cut down. Maybe he wanted them cut down because he learned a dragon would be attending the summit?

How did NONE of these ponies already know Twilight Sparkle was asleep?
Did Cadance not tell a single one of them?

Ignoring Spike’s attempts at reason, the ponies at the summit go up to the room Twilight Sparkle is staying in like an angry mob. Spike goes inside in panic and even screams a few times, but Twilight remains placid and wakes up on her own volition.

Wait, is Spike seriously hit by a door in this episode twice?! This is getting ridiculous. It’s like this episode is going out of its way to make Spike into as much of a laughing stock as possible. Power Ponies had its Spike episode problems, but at least it ended with Spike not being the comic relief, and the same goes for Equestria Games. Here, though, he remains the comic relief the whole way through, even though it’s his episode!

Unless, um… unless this episode follows the pattern of some season 5 episodes having unusual protagonists, and Fancy Pants was secretly the true protagonist the whole time? Yes, yes, yes, that makes sense!!! I have cracked the mystery of Princess Spike!!!!!! (Just kidding, I think reanalyzing works of media to claim the true protagonist is someone completely different is dumb.)

Content warning: The next paragraph contains discussion of suicide. Not any specific real or fictional suicide, just a scene that could be interpreted as an attempt at suicide.

Here’s a scene that has unfortunate implications that I hope weren’t intended. Notice the way Spike is looking out the window, standing on a stack of books. It sort of looks like he’s considering jumping out the window to end his own life. I really, really hope the intent behind this scene was just that he wanted to survey what’s going on outside or something innocent like that, not contemplating suicide. This episode has been so mean to Spike already, and I can’t bear the thought of viewers thinking he was almost about to kill himself. The poor guy deserves better.

Spike tries to downplay to Twilight Sparkle how many decisions he made in her name, as he stands amidst the result of, well… decisions he made before he got carried away with all this. What even is this episode??? An absolute mess, that’s what.

Spike: Uh… hi there, everypony. So… I guess I owe you all a pretty big apology.
Spike: It’s funny… here we are in a summit that brings together ponies from all across Equestria. And all I could think about was myself.
Spike: You all came here to celebrate things that make each of our cities so unique and special. But… instead of getting into the spirit of things like all of you… I used my friend’s position to make myself feel good.

Within the episode’s last two minutes, its theme switches from “Spike being carried away with power” to “ponies from all across Equestria being brought together”. This would be cool and all, if those two themes were even remotely related to each other!!! What is supposed to be a heartfelt conclusion to this episode has nothing to do with anything Spike did, even though this episode was supposed to be about him. I feel like these two themes were supposed to be connected better, but all this got completely muddled when this episode’s story was adapted to a script. Even the painful mess of contrivances that was Spike at Your Service at least had him involved in the resolution.

So does Spike finally get to do something cool after that? No, of course not. He struggles to rebuild the gem statue and the foundation keeps falling apart until the others help one by one. Once more in a Spike episode, a bunch of characters who aren’t him get to accomplish something cool, and yet he doesn’t get any moment of fulfillment.

Man, why was Spike forgiven in this episode so easily?
It’s like no one cares about what he did, and the episode was never about him at all.

The statue is completed, and one of the ponies in the crowd talks about its symbolism: everyone’s small parts adding together to create something beautiful in the spirit of friendship and teamwork. This is some nice symbolism, but it’s completely unrelated to the rest of the episode. Wasn’t it supposed to be about Spike abusing his power and learning a lesson from it? The final resolution of this episode isn’t even something he had to do with, which defeats the point of this being a Spike episode.

I really hate the way this episode ends. Spike is handed a dragon sneeze flower by someone who must be oblivious that it makes him sneeze, and the episode cuts off right before he sneezes. Why does this episode end with STILL jerking Spike around?! He’s supposed to be more than just comic relief, and yet in this episode that’s all he is throughout. What did Spike even do to deserve the flowers? And why do most characters in this episode know nothing about anything? Not that Twilight Sparkle is asleep or that dragons are allergic to dragon sneeze flowers? This ending is just insulting.

Overall thoughts:

This episode does everything Spike episodes do wrong with nothing that Spike episodes ever do right. Spike is a comic relief who can never do anything right and messes things up constantly, and it always falls into others to fix his problems. This episode’s treatment of Spike is appallingly bad and doesn’t fit in this show at all. He doesn’t even get any heroic moment at the end. Worse yet, this episode’s plot hinges on everyone being oblivious that Twilight Sparkle is asleep, even though it makes no sense that they wouldn’t be informed of that. This episode fails at everything it tries to do. If I had to think of something to praise about it… maybe the depth it adds to Fancy Pants’ character? He deserved to be in a better episode though.

With all that said, maybe the backlash this episode received is what led the show to treat Spike with some respect in the next season. So although this episode is one of the worst of the entire show, at least its poor reception caused the show to take some action. But that doesn’t excuse this episode being so terrible.

Grade: F

This is only the second episode of the show I’ve given an F; the first was Putting Your Hoof Down. I can enjoy watching almost every episode of the show, except for the ones that I give F’s.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • For another example of defending the quality of a work of media by comparing it to its most infamously bad installment, think of all the times you’ve watched a review of a Sonic game and they say “at least it’s not as bad as Sonic 06”. Surely you’ve also watched way more reviews of Sonic games than you’d like to admit, even ones you have no interest in playing? Oh, who am I kidding. I have a problem.
  • Iron Will is kind of like Fancy Pants in reverse. Fancy Pants’ first voiced appearance was in an amazing episode, and his second was in a horrible episode; Iron Will is the other way around. (His second appearance is in Once Upon a Zeppelin, one of my favorites of season 7.)

While the next episode is far from my favorite of season 5, it’s a total masterpiece compared to this one.

Season 5 Episode 11: Party Pooped

In five words: Yaks provide ponies culture shock.

Premise: The Mane 6 are tasked with introducing yaks to Ponyville, and Pinkie Pie tries to figure out how to make the place inviting to them… and more importantly, how to make the yaks stop destroying everything they see.

Detailed run-through:

This episode starts with Twilight Sparkle poorly suppressing her nervousness about the inhabitants of a faraway place called Yakyakistan visiting Equestria. Well, in her defense, she’s keeping it together better than in some of her other nervous breakdowns. Twilight provides a few bits of worldbuilding when talking about the yaks, a brand new species who we’re going to meet in person right about…

I can never remember which places in this show are and aren’t part of Equestria, but Twilight confirms that Yakyakistan isn’t.

… now!

Prince Rutherford and his delegates give us an aggressive first impression when they are presented with Yakyakistan cuisine, only to find that it isn’t made with authentic ingredients. They flip the table in anger and then stomp on it. Rewatching this episode while remembering its resolution, it feels obvious that the yaks didn’t come here for an imitation of their own culture, but how are Twilight and friends supposed to know any better? Since yaks and ponies haven’t been in contact for hundreds of moons, it’s easy to see why the ponies would try making them feel at home, which leads to quite a lot of culture shock. This entire episode is about culture shock, which is conveyed here in a somewhat exaggerated way to drive the point home.

Likewise, how are the yaks supposed to know that ponies don’t destroy things as freely and violently as they do? I recall that in later seasons, we learn that rituals involving destroying things are commonplace among yaks. It’s just part of their culture, which is shocking to these ponies.

As the Mane 6 discuss how unexpected the yaks’ rampage was, Twilight Sparkle gives us an eyebrow-raising line:

Twilight Sparkle: All we have to do is show them how great it can be to have friends before Princess Celestia arrives for the friendship party tonight.

Why would Twilight Sparkle assume that yaks don’t know what friendship is? Does she think friendship is a concept that exists solely to ponies? I want to say that her brain is exceptionally tuned to solving friendship problems, but a much more logical interpretation is prejudice against species that aren’t her own. It’s a problem that the ponies and yaks both need to overcome in this episode.

Twilight Sparkle asks if any of her friends read a lengthy book on the history of yaks, and Pinkie Pie eagerly says she did. This puts her as the episode’s focus, and gives her a connection with yaks that persists from this episode onwards. She’s a fitting character to interact with yaks, because her upbeat and whimsical personality means those guys won’t easily drive her crazy.

Pinkie Pie knows only one way of making friends with someone stubborn: brute force. Since she’s put in charge of making the yaks feel at home, she tries everything she can to recreate the yaks’ social customs, but they all smash them down in disgust once they realize the replica isn’t perfect. These yaks don’t take kindly to any mockery, whether it be bedding, animals, fabric, you name it. They even threaten to smash the animals who were wearing yak horns, which is pretty brutal if you ask me. Thankfully Fluttershy gets the animals safe in time.

You have to appreciate Rarity for coming as close as she can to yak fabric. She remembered Twilight saying that the yaks live north of the Crystal Empire, so she used fabric imported from there in an attempt to please them. It doesn’t work out, but it shows Rarity is willing to listen to her friends’ excited blabbering about their interests.

After the yaks get angered at Rainbow Dash’s attempt at imitating their snow, the Mane 6 reconvene to discuss how things have been going with the yaks. In increasing order of honesty, all besides Twilight Sparkle describe how well it has gone, and Applejack strangely goes first even though she’s the element of honesty. But I’m getting a little bored of nitpicking every time Applejack isn’t portrayed as the honest one. This episode isn’t really about her anyway.

As such, it would serve this episode much better to do some Pinkienalysis! I know this is a terrible portmanteau, but you can’t elegantly combine a character’s name with the word “analysis” unless it ends with an A or maybe an N.

The Mane 6 are all accustomed to Twilight Sparkle’s flavor of freakouts, but the same cannot be said for Pinkie Pie being similarly nervous. They’re confused as to why Pinkie Pie is darting her eyes back and forth, because this is a side of Pinkie that they don’t see often: the side that panics because she thinks someone hates her. Her bouncy and plucky demeanor means she gets along with just about everyone, so she doesn’t take well to the possibility that someone might dislike her. She can be surprisingly fragile beneath her comical antics, since her happiness depends so much on making others happy.

This letter looks like it should contain much more text than Twilight Sparkle is reading.

The rest of the Mane 6 arrive at Sugarcube Corner only after Pinkie Pie has stormed off. She leaves a very short letter in Gummy’s mouth that doesn’t explain where she went but promises she will be home in time for the party. I can’t decide if this is an indication that Pinkie Pie loves surprises, or if she merely wrote the letter in a hurry because she was so excited to go to Yakyakistan.

Pinkie Pie gives us a dramatic monologue about her determination to throw the perfect party on a train that takes her all the way to…

The guy on the left looks like he could be Cherry Jubilee’s brother. I’m going to say his name is Cherry Jamboree.
Wait, no. That’s just a mainstay background pony, isn’t it.
(Still. Cherry Jamboree is an awesome name. Isn’t it?????)

… Appleoosa?

Pinkie Pie: Where’s all the snow? Please tell me this is magical sand-colored snow!
(Pinkie Pie tastes some of the sand)
Pinkie Pie: Ptoo! Nope. Sand. Definitely sand.

Pinkie Pie eating sand to make sure it isn’t snow may be a wacky gag, but I also view it as a demonstration of the denial she experiences when something doesn’t go as she hoped. She badly wants to have arrived at Yakyakistan due to her determination to host the perfect party, which causes her to do something as weird as eat sand. All because she wants to do anything to make the yaks not hate her. Anyway, it turns out the train had to stop in Appleoosa because some sheep were getting in the way.

You know how you can tell this isn’t season 1? The sheep don’t blurt out a comedic line that shows they can talk after all. It’s a little weird considering this episode reveals that an entirely separate quadrupedal mammal species can talk, but it makes sense because the show is now at a point where it’s giving voiced species their own cultures and traditions. As such, it would be out of place to suggest that animals like sheep and cows are as sentient as ponies. Well, unless you’re a season 1 purist of course.

One of season 5’s trademarks is its callbacks to prior episodes—most episodes of the season have at least one. Pinkie Pie was hit by this exact door back in The Last Roundup, and this callback makes viewers more likely to recognize who opened the door. It’s our old friend Cherry Jubilee, who upon request takes Pinkie Pie to the Crystal Empire by horse carriage.

Unfortunately, Cherry Jubilee and the ponies pulling the carriage fall asleep at a bad time, and although Pinkie Pie manages to stop them, they land into a ravine anyway. And yet, Pinkie Pie’s quest to reach Yakyakistan continues because she will do anything it takes to host the perfect party.

Not shown: Cadance behind Pinkie Pie, warning her of what she’s in for.

Things aren’t going well for the others in Ponyville, which the yaks just declared war on in response to finding out Spike was only pretending to play piano. At this point, the episode has embraced the comically absurd, shown by the photo montage that Pinkie Pie narrates in her journey’s final stretch. Apparently the Wonderbolts pulled a deus ex machina when Pinkie Pie and company were falling down the ravine, they got a ride to Manehattan, and Pinkie Pie joined and left a band referencing the Beatles all in a single afternoon. This episode knows how illogical it is for a pony to do all this within such a short timespan, which may be why it puts Pinkie Pie up to this task. If any pony can defy logic to such a shameless extent, it’s her.

Many fans were disappointed we didn’t get to see inside Yakyakistan in this episode.
Fortunately, later seasons redeem this.

After facing a dangerous snow monster and getting help from a tiny yak on a sled, Pinkie Pie FINALLY makes it to Yakyakistan…

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of places like Saddle Arabia.

… except she waits one moment too long, the snow under her collapses, and she’s sent all the way back where she started with a drawn out “NOOOOOOO”. It’s as illogical as it is symbolic, showing Pinkie Pie that imitating the ways of Yakyakistan wasn’t the answer after all.

Meanwhile, a switch goes off at Sugarcube Corner and Pinkie Pie’s friends discover something surprising: a secret basement where Pinkie Pie stores files that intricately document everything needed for party planning. It turns out she has information on every single resident of Ponyville to help her decide what kind of party to throw for them. We’ve seen before that Pinkie Pie will take extreme lengths to make others smile, but only now do we see how she’s so insanely prepared. She takes partying extra seriously, and her extreme degrees of organizing info give her a commonality with Twilight Sparkle.

Fluttershy: Twilight Sparkle likes vanilla ice cream, red balloons, dancing…
Twilight Sparkle: That’s right!
Fluttershy: But she’s afraid of quesadillas.
Twilight Sparkle: No, I’m not! They’re just so… (shudder)… cheesy.

You know, I can see why Twilight Sparkle likes vanilla ice cream. If you remember her positive reaction to the incomplete dress in Sweet and Elite, she has a clear affinity for the plain and simple. That same episode also showed her dancing like a lunatic, and… were there red balloons? Probably at least one or two. On the other hand, her memetic fear of quesadillas was never known before and is a live demonstration of how incredibly well Pinkie Pie knows the residents of Ponyville. We got a lot of insight into her character in a scene that she isn’t even in!

I love picking apart one-off gags so much.

Once Pinkie Pie arrives back home, she enters the basement and secretly listens in on her friends. It turns out that she apparently has plans for her parents’ 50th, 100th, and 500th anniversaries. Is it even possible for ponies other than Celestia and Luna to live for 500 years?! Perhaps this is a hint at Pinkie Pie’s morbid, existential side. Or does she want to pass these plans down through generations after she’s gone? Or does she simply want to account for the possibility that she and her parents do remain alive for five centuries? Or maybe she wants to time travel 400-some years into the future for the party, then go back to the present?

Actually, here’s the theory I like best. Maybe Pinkie Pie is holding out hope that immortality is invented within her lifespan, since death isn’t easy for her to face. It would be suitably optimistic for her.

Pinkie Pie gets teary when she thanks her friends for their kind words, then realizes she got something out of her failed journey to Yakyakistan. She realized that each city she stopped in had its citizens be friendly and helpful in their own way, and she wishes the yaks could see how welcoming the residents of Ponyville are. This leads her to realize how she can host the party, and even though the yaks boarded a train home, she knows it won’t take long to get them here because of some mischievous sheep.

Pinkie Pie leaves the room by going up the slide… somehow.

Fluttershy: So, um, do we… walk back up the slide or… or what?

That’s a good question. Who’s to say the slide doesn’t have technology that pushes someone sitting on its bottom back up? It’s probably Pinkie Pie bending reality, but I think the Mane 6 should at least try. It doesn’t matter because they get out anyway.

Put together at lightning speed, the party is a success and leads to this episode’s moral, which is narrated with Celestia around for old time’s sake. Pinkie Pie tells Prince Rutherford she learned that to make another culture feel welcome at your home, you shouldn’t try to imitate their ways but let them know yours for what they are, and Rutherford calls off the war. Such morals about respecting other cultures become commonplace in later seasons, and yaks are going to show up plenty in episodes to come. Celestia is impressed at all this, and Twilight Sparkle tries to downplay how much trouble it was. After Pinkie Pie and Rutherford exchange hugs as best they can with their size differences, the episode ends.

Overall thoughts:

The biggest problem with this episode is that it requires a lot of suspension of disbelief due to the short timespan in which its events take place. Even when we’re talking about Pinkie Pie, traveling to a faraway place and putting together a party for a brand new foreign species in a few hours feels far-fetched enough to detract from the experience a little. But other than that and the yaks being excessively destructive, the episode works well for what it is and provides enticing worldbuilding, good humor and callbacks, and some surprising insight into Pinkie Pie’s character.

Grade: C

This is a good episode, but it seems weak when it shares a season with so many incredible episodes and Princess Spike.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • On the topic of character name + “analysis” portmanteaus, the word “Gildanalysis” sounds pretty snazzy, and I wish I had thought it three episodes ago. “Celestianalysis” and “Lunalysis” don’t sound bad either.
  • Aside from this, it’s also worth mentioning that Pinkie Pie playing the drums in the Beatles equivalent band matches with her human self playing the drums in Equestria Girls.

While this episode focused on struggling to make new friends, the next one deals with reconciling with old friends.

You know what? I’ve decided that the next seven episodes—Amending Fences up to Crusaders of the Lost Mark—will all get posts all to themselves. Then, the last eight episodes of season 5 will each be paired up. I’m partly doing this to see if my MLP posts work better giving each episode a post to itself, but partly because I can never fully predict how long my reviews get. If I continue my weekly schedule without breaks, my review of Crusaders of the Lost Mark will come out on September 30.

EDIT (8/15/2022): I changed my mind slightly. The next two episodes after Amending Fences (whose reviews I just finished) will share a post, since their reviews are both relatively short.

See you next week as we revisit the events of the first episode and meet the enigmatic Moondancer.

>> Part 49: Amending Fences

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