Season 5, Episodes 19-20
Sorry this post took so long! My next few MLP posts may also be a little slow, partly because my weekly queue has caught up with me, and partly because I am working on quite a few other projects. Rest assured, I plan on finishing season 5 no later than early November.
Season 5 Episode 19: The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows
In five words: Pinkie Pie keeps baby secret.
Premise: Pinkie Pie learns that Shining Armor and Princess Cadance are going to have a baby. She must keep it a secret from her friends, and yet temptation lurks around every corner.
I love how Pound Cake is riding on top of Gummy.
This episode starts with Pinkie Pie somehow counting 568 cupcakes without needing any paper to keep track of things or prevent miscounts. This reminds us of what makes her different from the rest of the Mane 6: her brain operates on cartoon logic rather than normal logic, which makes the moments where she’s genuinely panicked and insecure greatly stick out.
As is typical of a Pinkie Pie episode, these scenes are filled with slapstick shenanigans that were more universal in season 1.
Mrs. Cake gives Pinkie Pie a letter with an exciting reveal: Shining Armor and Princess Cadance are having a baby. Unfortunately, Pinkie can’t tell this to the rest of the Mane 6. When a TV show has an episode where a character learns a major secret about their family, a choice has to be made about whether to let the audience in on it at the start, or surprise them at the end. This episode lets the viewer know about the baby right at the start, which is good because it lets them get immersed in Pinkie Pie’s mindset and see how well she handles holding it in.
Pinkie Pie and Rarity are still a notorious rarepair at this point, but season 6 will fix that.
When Pinkie Pie monologues to herself about the secret, Rarity walks by and unwittingly sets her off.
Pinkie Pie: Did you take that from Pound Cake again? Don’t you know it’s wrong to steal from a baby?
Rarity: What’s all this about a baby?
Pinkie Pie: What? Who? What? Who said something about a baby?
Rarity: You did, Miss Pie, just now. What were you talking about?
(Pinkie Pie sticks a pacifier in her mouth)
Pinkie Pie’s brain is so ultra-focused on keeping the secret that she’s repeatedly coming close to letting it slip. It’s not just that she’s excited about the birth of the baby: she’s also scared that if she lets the secret slip, she’ll be seen as a bad friend and everyone will hate her. Beneath her jovial attitude, she fears that if she does one wrong thing, all her friends will shut her out of their lives, and her episodes tend to revolve around this intense worry. The contrast between Pinkie’s ultra-happy and paranoid sides makes her a fascinating character to analyze.
Twilight Sparkle reads a letter about Shining Armor and Cadance’s visit to Ponyville, and Pinkie Pie correctly guesses every detail in it because she expects it to reveal the baby… except it doesn’t.
Rainbow Dash: Uh… how did you know all that?
Pinkie Pie: Hehehe… eh… uh… Pinkie Sense?
Pinkie Sense hasn’t appeared in the show much if at all since season 2—it seems to only ever show up when convenient to the plot, or to make way for a cartoony gag. Here, she desperately hopes it’s a believable explanation for how she knows all this, because her mind is focused solely on keeping this secret. I’ve said most of this stuff about Pinkie Pie before, so maybe I should focus more on Twilight Sparkle and her family.
Twilight Sparkle reveals she decorated her bedroom with some of her brother’s childhood interests as a surprise. As with most of the show’s male supporting characters, Shining Armor’s interests seem inspired by those of bronies. He likes superhero comic books (one of which Spike accidentally burns), toy trains, and knight costumes, and he even has a little doll matching Smarty Pants named Brutus Force. All the while, Pinkie Pie keeps denying how difficult it is keeping a secret, and the others can tell she’s acting even weirder than usual.
Pinkie Pie decides to lock herself in her bedroom for the next day until Shining Armor and Cadance arrive, but some comically unfortunate coincidences prevent her from doing so. She has to fill in for Mr. Cake to deliver some cakes, which she had indeed agreed to. As we see in a flashback scene:
Mr. Cake: Maybe I should hire somepony to be my backup delivery pony.
Pinkie Pie: I’ll do it!
Mr. Cake: Really?
Pinkie Pie: Sure! There’s no possible way that I could ever have anything that might interfere with doing that task, like a gigantic, emotionally exhausting surprise that would make it super hard to be around other ponies.
Mr. Cake: Great! … You’re sure you won’t change your mind?
Pinkie Pie: No way! Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.
Pinkie Pie episodes are all about embracing the comically absurd: insanely unlikely coincidences, surreal slapstick, and defiance of logic. If done right, her cartoon humor can beautifully contrast against her genuine insecurities, and that’s what makes her episodes tricky to do right. It’s a careful balancing act between realism and surrealism, and I think this episode does it well.
Hey look, our good friend Derpy is near the center.
Though she hopes today will be a quiet day where she can avoid interacting with anyone, Pinkie Pie looks outside to see Ponyville as lively and bustling as ever. There isn’t a huge parade going on or anything: just an ordinary level of activity, which would delight her under any other circumstance.
Pinkie Pie hides herself well at first, but then she runs into the Cutie Mark Crusaders, who are bored today and want to hear some cool gossip. Can you blame these three for feeling so bored? They did just earn their cutie marks, which all their activities revolved around in the past several seasons. As I said last episode, we’ll explore this post-victory rut further in season 6.
I never understood the trope where a fictional girl looks cuter without glasses on. For me, it’s the total opposite.
We then get a fun little montage where Pinkie Pie delivers all the gifts and packages she promised to do today while remaining unseen, which she does not feel good about. I haven’t discussed it much in this review, but I find this episode’s cartoon humor a lot of fun, as any Pinkie Pie episode should be. She then fulfills a few residual Pinkie Promises while running into mentions of babies and secrets from Featherweight, Mayor Mare, and a furniture salespony.
Finding out something you had been putting all your energy into preparing for has been delayed is either one of the best or worst feelings in the world. For Pinkie Pie, it’s one of the worst: when she learns Shining Armor and Cadance’s visit will be held up, she yelps and somehow jumps into the hanging branches of the Golden Oak Library. Keeping an exciting secret is one thing, but Pinkie Pie is straining herself by keeping two secrets: one is that Shining Armor and Princess Cadance are having a baby, and the second is that she’s struggling to keep a secret. You could argue that it’s itself a secret that Pinkie Pie is keeping it a secret that she’s keeping a secret, and if you say it’s a secret that that is a secret and follow this chain of recursion, you could say that Pinkie Pie is keeping an infinite number of secrets. That would explain why she’s so insanely stressed: if she didn’t keep it a secret that she’s keeping a secret, she would only have one secret to keep track of.
On a more serious note, I find it interesting that Pinkie Pie won’t admit she’s keeping a secret. Does she think that if her friends knew there was a secret, they’d immediately guess it was a baby? Or does she not want to them to see her as weak and incompetent? While she’s genuinely excitable and easy to please, she tries a little too hard to maintain a perfectly upbeat, worry-free image.
It’s been a while since a Pinkie Pie episode delved into freaky territory, huh? That’s another one of my favorite things about Pinkie Pie episodes. When her friends encourage her to tell whatever she’s been keeping in, she imagines them all as freaky balloons who pressure her to spit it out. She can’t take any more of these bizarre mind illusions, so she almost says what she’s been hiding—
I like to think when he was raised along with Twilight Sparkle and Shining Armor, Spike was always tasked with carrying enormous piles of luggage.
Rarity would later start subjecting him to the same duty.
—except Shining Armor and Cadance arrive at the very last second. It turns out they were early after all, which is relieving to Pinkie Pie and convenient for the episode’s plot. Twilight Sparkle says she prepared a surprise for her brother, and he has a surprise for her too.
When was the last time a pony in this show made a proper horse noise?
Twilight Sparkle tells us that Shining Armor got childishly excited when he saw all the decorations she made for him, which is heavily reminiscent of bronies. He even gave his old doll a hug. I can easily see why the show based so many of its male characters’ mannerisms on its fans—when a show has this many male fans, it makes sense to make the male characters easy for them to relate to.
Twilight Sparkle then finds a scroll hidden in a statue, revealing that Shining Armor has sent her on a scavenger hunt to lead to the big surprise. It turns out this was a common thing they did as foals, which I find rather charming. Shining Armor could tell his little sister loved being a cool hero who goes on cool adventures, and he also knew that a book (or multiple books) was a fulfilling reward for her. Given that Shining Armor was added to the show’s cast quite a while after the characters’ initial profiles were conceived, the show has taken a long time to expand on his character, and now it’s finally doing so.
The first clue in the hunt takes Twilight Sparkle to the Cutie Mark Crusaders’ school, and the next clue is found in the Foal Free Press newspaper from Featherweight.
Rarity: Ooh, look at that dress Mayor Mare is wearing in the social report. Why, it’s stunning!
Applejack: Uh, didn’t you make that, Rarity?
Rarity: Yes. What is your point?
Bragging about your creations is cool, actually. It smacks of confidence and shows you know you have artistic talent, rather than ridiculously humble self-deprecation. Her confidence in her artistic work is part of why I like Rarity so much—it reminds me that showing off creative works that you’re proud of is a good thing.
The next destination is the town hall, where we see Mayor Mare having trouble holding in the secret of the baby; she almost blurts it out before Pinkie Pie shushes her. It’s surprising to see Mayor Mare not so above it all, pacing back and forth like she has to go to the bathroom. And for all we know, maybe she does have to go to the bathroom.
If the show didn’t stick to using illegible text, then we’d have seen the names of Applejack’s parents too soon.
Pinkie Pie rushes her friends through the rest of the scavenger hunt, providing them the exact directions to the room with Ponyville’s birth certificates. Her friends are all surprised that she knows where the room is, but Pinkie Pie was there earlier today when she helped the mayor with a Pinkie Promise.
This quick look at Applejack’s birth certificate made me realize that she’s the only Mane 6 member who we know for sure was born in Ponyville. Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash were presumably born in Cloudsdale, Twilight Sparkle in Canterlot, and Pinkie Pie on a rock farm, leaving Rarity as the only other one who might have been born in Ponyville. Hmm… could this mean that Rarity and Applejack were childhood friends? Since I’m a fan of their dynamic, I’ll buy it as a new headcanon.
The next clue is over at a furniture store, and I like how Shining Armor used this scavenger hunt as an excuse for Twilight to buy him a crib in such a convoluted way. At least, that’s the impression I’m getting here. He didn’t just say, “hey Twily, could you buy a crib for me and Cadance?” after revealing he was having a baby, because that would be way too straightforward.
And the last clue takes the Mane 6 over to Sugarcube Corner, where Shining Armor tells Twilight Sparkle to put the clues together and deduce what all the places she visited have in common. Twilight Sparkle has always enjoyed solving mysteries in a formulaic manner, and it’s endearing to see she does this the same way now as when she was a foal. She has a predictably shocked reaction to realizing her brother is having a baby, and Pinkie Pie bounces off the walls in a very literal way.
This was exactly the face Shining Armor and Cadance hoped to see.
Look, we all know Shining Armor and Cadance’s baby was added to the show so that there could be baby toys of her. Or at least I’m 99% sure that’s the reason. But Twilight Sparkle becoming an aunt suits itself well to the coming-of-age themes of the middle seasons and puts into perspective that these characters are growing up. After some heartfelt moments and celebration, this happens:
How natural for the most literal-minded of the Mane 6 to express a common figure of speech, in this case collapsing after a great period of stress, literally. She puts herself back together and then tells Cadance that keeping the secret was a piece of cake…
… but when the camera closes in on her, she shakes her head and mouths “no”, just in case any viewers are as literal-minded as her.
This is a cute little episode with a mix of Pinkie Pie’s cartoony humor, expansion upon Twilight Sparkle and Shining Armor’s childhood, and leadup to plot-relevant stuff in the next season. Compared to most of season 5, it’s not an episode I felt a need to analyze too heavily because I had already talked at length about Pinkie Pie’s insecurities before. It feels like a breather after the pivotal events of the last episode.
An episode doesn’t need a complex storyline or heavy moments to be enjoyable to watch.
- There’s no way the guy on the right isn’t a relative of Fluttershy’s—probably her grandpa or something. His brief appearance explains why beagle puss glasses are at all a viable disguise in Ponyville, reminiscent of the gag character named Crackle in Dragon Quest.
- I could discuss what the balloon animal Pinkie Pie made for Scootaloo suspiciously looks like, but I’d really prefer to keep these posts family-friendly. Just know that when Scootaloo said “it looks like a—”, I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow.
- Strangely enough, the scene immediately afterwards is Featherweight’s first speaking scene in the show, even though he had significant roles in Ponyville Confidential and Slice of Life.
The next episode has Pinkie Pie struggle with something else family-related: bringing her family closer to Applejack’s.
Season 5 Episode 20: Hearthbreakers
In five words: Pinkie Pie reconciles conflicting traditions.
Premise: Pinkie Pie invites Applejack’s family over to meet her family for Hearth’s Warming Eve. Getting them to bond is tougher than she thinks.
This episode is the REAL halfway point of the show, as I mentioned two episodes ago.
The show’s second Christmas episode starts off in Twilight Sparkle’s castle, where we learn that she and Spike have a tradition of opening the presents on the night before Hearth’s Warming Eve, or, um… Hearth’s Warming Eve’s Eve? I get the feeling this episode may have been inspired by a mildly touchy topic surrounding Christmas season—some people prefer calling it a religion-neutral term like “holiday season”, to acknowledge that not everyone celebrates the same holidays at this time of year. However, this episode is about celebrating the same holiday in different ways, and a more exact match with this topic would be The Hearth’s Warming Club in season 8.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Applejack’s reaction to this tradition feels like her classic arbitrary stubbornness is back in action. Many episodes involving Applejack are criticized for portraying her as unreasonably stuck-up, and I’ll see for myself whether the pattern holds in this one.
Spike opens his gift from Twilight Sparkle, which turns out to be a book yet again. I think Twilight Sparkle’s habit of giving books as presents is a hint at her self-centered side, which I am going to write ALL the walls of text about when I get to No Second Prances. But I should really stop getting sidetracked thinking about later episodes.
I’m going to guess the two guys sitting together on the left got a fair share of gay fanart.
What all goes on in the train ride to the Pies’ rock farm? Excitement about families meeting together, the trope of a child getting bored by an adult’s “Christmas isn’t just about presents” lecture, a reminder of the Apples and Pies’ ambiguous genetic relationship, and a recap of the episode “Hearth’s Warming Eve” told through candy. In retrospect, I think that episode relies a bit too much on cheap exaggerations of the Mane 6’s character traits; it was just less obvious given they were technically portraying historical figures.
Admit it. You paused this scene to count the number of hooves.
Pinkie Pie calculates the number of new friendships that will be formed this Hearth’s Warming Eve as nineteen: four Apples times six Pies, minus Pinkie Pie’s friendships with the Apples and Maud Pie’s friendship with Applejack. I like this scene because it shows that the people working on this show know that its fans like to make mathematical calculations about it, so this scene provides a calculation of its own.
Maud Pie mentions the Mohs scale in this scene, which is named after a real-life human.
Well, to be fair, I can’t think of any good horse puns from that name. Can you?
Maud Pie: I’m so excited to see you, Pinkie Pie. You too, Applejack. I hope you had fun sledding yesterday.
Applejack: How’d you know that?
Maud Pie: Isn’t it obvious? There’s specks of extrusive andesite on your hoof.
Maud Pie: It’s a mountain rock.
Much like her exuberant sister, Maud Pie has a penchant for comical extremes, only in the total opposite direction—this is a common theme with Pinkie Pie’s sisters. It would take a ridiculously sharp eye for Maud to notice specks of a rock on the bottom of Applejack’s hooves, let alone identify what type of rock it is, and that’s why I love her.
Pinkie Pie’s parents’ scenes are scored with serious organ music, akin to Rarity being scored with harpsichords.
The rest of Pinkie Pie’s family, who we had briefly seen in a few flashbacks, appear in person for the first time, and they all provide us character establishing moments. First is her parents:
Igneous Rock: Surely thy name is not but Granny Smith. I am called Igneous Rock Pie, son of Feldspar Granite Pie.
Cloudy Quartz: Thou shalt know me as Cloudy Quartz.
Igneous Rock: May providence favor thee well, and to thou comfort, our humble homestead bring.
Granny Smith: Y’all gabbing with words real funny-like. Eh, w-w-what ya say them names were? Iggy? And I’m just gonna call you Big Mama Q.
The Pies’ pattern of comical extremes extends to Pinkie Pie’s ridiculously old-timey parents. Through their archaic way of talking, it’s clear that they have a strong sense of respect for family and hold their moral code high. Granny Smith displays some amusing hypocrisy when she says they talk funny, an early hint that these families aren’t so different after all.
Limestone and Marble Pie’s cutie marks are both puns on their names, rather than solely depicting the rocks they’re named after.
Limestone Pie is extremely brash and grumpy, but fiercely protective of her family and her farm, and especially a huge egg-shaped rock named Holder’s Boulder. The episode is just begging to have that rock destroyed, and for Limestone to bring out her inner warm heart.
The first sentence in the following paragraph is one of the best sentences I have ever written.
Marble Pie is the opposite of Pinkie Pie in the opposite way from how Limestone Pie is the opposite of Pinkie Pie. Her comical extreme is her shyness: she walked back inside when her family first met the Apples, and Pinkie Pie had to drag her over. Then Pinkie Pie does all the talking for her a-few-minutes-younger sister, and Marble responds with a meek “mhm”. Naturally enough, this trait gave her a lot of popularity among fans much like Fluttershy and Coco Pommel. I think it’s fitting for Pinkie Pie to hail from a family of archetypes taken to logical extremes; the tight relationships of her family show that’s naturally how the Pies operate.
The Apples expect a hearty dinner of foods they’re all familiar with, but instead they’re presented with something called “rock soup”. Applejack politely pretends she enjoys it, presumably because her desire to keep Pinkie Pie happy outweighs her brutal honesty. Though they’re both main characters of the show, Applejack’s family is portrayed as the normal one and Pinkie Pie’s as the weird one. There’s a logical reason for this: we’ve gotten to know the Apple family since season 1, so we’re desensitized to their devotion to apples and exuberant traditions. In contrast, this is the viewer’s first time getting to know most of Pinkie Pie’s family, so it’s natural to get a bizarre first impression of them like we had with Maud.
Limestone Pie seems to be the star of this tradition. She’s making a sculpture from a huge rock!
The next Pie family tradition is “dolls” made from rocks, which perplexes all the Apples. Though it’s certainly bizarre to call a sculpted rock a doll, the rest of this tradition isn’t quite as weird; it just takes a lot of practice and care to make a sculpture from a rock. Well, unless your name is Pinkie Pie—she turns a rock into a doll with one strike of her pickaxe. Applejack and the others aren’t good at this because they expected something different.
Big Mac and Marble Pie blush when placed next to each other.
Pinkie Pie hosts a flag-finding mission where the ponies are split into teams: Big Macintosh with Marble Pie, Apple Bloom with Maud Pie, Granny Smith with her parents, Applejack with Pinkie Pie, and Limestone Pie as the judge. She clearly put thought into who would get along well with who and paired them based on similar traits, which is quite sweet of her. Pairing up the quiet ones and the elders is obvious, but Apple Bloom and Maud Pie are a more unusual pairing. I presume Pinkie Pie thinks that someone as open-minded as Apple Bloom would easily see Maud Pie for who she is.
Pinkie Pie: But who gets to put the flag on Holder’s Boulder?
Applejack: You mean on the flagpole?
Pinkie Pie: No, silly. It goes on the highest point. And who’s the lucky pony?
Applejack: Traditionally, it’s the youngest—
Pinkie Pie: On your mark, get set, go!
In this episode, it makes sense why Applejack is acting so stubbornly traditionalist. She takes a lot of pride in her heritage and doesn’t seem to leave Ponyville much unless it’s for a friendship mission. As such, she sees her family’s way of celebrating Hearth’s Warming as the normal way.
As the first adult male character introduced in the show, it’s no surprise Big Mac is the subject of a lot of ships.
We see how each of the teams are faring in the contest, with tons of new character combos. While Applejack keeps telling Pinkie Pie how weird and confusing these activities are, Marble Pie and Big Mac show romantic tension as they alternate between “eyup” and “mhm” kind of like the “yep, yep, yep, mhm” running gag in King of the Hill. These two unsurprisingly became a popular ship, though I don’t think it would have worked out regardless of any canon events or possibilities that they’re related—they’re simply too shy around each other.
Yes, yes, Cloudy Quartz said “fortnight”. How incredibly funny.
Granny Smith: So, how’d you meet this Iggy feller?
Cloudy Quartz: We were chosen by the Pairing Stone, and betrothed within a fortnight.
Igneous Rock: The Choosing Stone decreed, thou shalt love one another, and lo, it was so.
The Pies express their special relationships with rocks in varying ways: Maud Pie knows everything about rocks, Limestone Pie is deeply protective of them, and their parents treat them like a religion. As is typical of this show’s folklore, there are strong suggestions of truth to this legend, helped by this passage:
Granny Smith: Hoo-wee, I gots to look into this old-fangled choosing stone thing. Do you reckon it knows any apple-farming hunks?
Cloudy Quartz: Mhm.
Igneous Rock: Indeed so.
Unlike what some may expect from characters who strictly follow their religious values, Igneous Rock and Cloudy Quartz have no problem helping out an old lady who still has some lust for hot guys, which I find sweet.
Apple Bloom: What does the rock look like?
Maud Pie: It looks like something that formed when volcanic lava cooled quickly.
Apple Bloom: Oh.
Maud Pie: Have you ever wished you could turn into a rock?
Apple Bloom: I had a dream once I was an apple.
Maud Pie: We have a lot in common when it comes to thinking about turning into things.
It was a smart decision to see how Apple and Pie family members play off each other by putting them in pairs. It allows for narrative efficiency that shows new interactions without distracting from the episode’s moral. I like how Apple Bloom and Maud Pie don’t take long to realize they have something in common, even if it’s bizarre.
Back to Applejack and Pinkie Pie, the traditions get weirder and weirder. First, it turns out they were looking for a picture of a rock, then it turns out the Pie family hides their presents, and then we learn that most years, no one finds any presents.
Applejack: So, let me get all this straight. You’re only allowed to eat rock soup for dinner. Then, the pony who finds this rock gets to raise a flag, but not really ‘cause you don’t got not flagpole. And to top it off, you don’t even get presents?
Pinkie Pie: Well… it doesn’t sound very fun when you say it that way.
Applejack: Well, how about you picture this. Both our families, opening presents, raising the flag…
Pinkie Pie: Picturing it… loving it!
A lot of adult characters in media will say that Christmas is more about family bonding than presents, but Pinkie Pie truly believes this mindset. She’s not too attached to any specific old-timey tradition and will freely accept anything that involves happy family times.
What conclusion does Applejack draw from Pinkie Pie’s stories? That her family has never had a real Hearth’s Warming. Applejack had gone on a whole stereotypical lecture about how the holiday isn’t just about presents, but deep down she believes presents are the most important part about it too. I find her culture shock believable, since it’s a natural effect of having lived in Ponyville her entire life. To her, Ponyville is default and normal, and everything else feels a little odd—that’s what happens when you don’t leave your hometown very often.
And the next morning…
Earlier in season 5, I had speculated that Pinkie Pie regularly shared beds with her sisters and didn’t find it weird. This scene confirms as much and makes it seem far less weird that she had jumped in bed with her maybe-cousin Applejack.
If you look closely, you’ll see that Igneous Rock wears dentures.
Pinkie Pie’s parents, in contrast, sleep in separate beds, which is a nice detail that matches their traditionalist nature. It’s an exception to the trope that couples sleeping in separate beds signifies a broken marriage.
The Pies and Apples come together to see that Applejack set up a Hearth’s Warming celebration her style, and Pinkie Pie’s family is not happy about it. Worse yet, it turns out Applejack planted the pole on a fault line, which is quite an unlucky coincidence. It causes the decorations to collapse and Holder’s Boulder to fall over, much to Limestone Pie’s horror.
I just noticed Limestone Pie’s eyes are lime colored.
Pinkie Pie: You didn’t have to ask them to leave!
Limestone Pie: They wanted to go. We don’t need anypony forcing their way into our family.
Pinkie Pie: This was all a misunderstanding, everypony. I know Applejack, and she’d never do anything bad to anypony.
Limestone Pie: Look around, Pinkie Pie. It’s gonna take me ages to get this rock farm back on track. And how are we gonna lift Holder’s Boulder? This is all her fault!
Pinkie Pie: Then it’s my fault too.
I think Pinkie Pie often finds herself in a mediator role among her family. While she seems loony and zany alongside the rest of the Mane 6, when put alongside her sisters she’s the most sane of the group. While Pinkie Pie is everyone’s friend, the other three are challenging to befriend each in their own way. Maud Pie requires patience and an open mind, Marble Pie needs someone to get her out of her shell, and you need to be careful not to get on Limestone Pie’s bad side like Applejack’s family just did.
While Pinkie Pie and Applejack’s genetic relationship is kept ambiguous, this episode still shows us how like-minded they are. They both blame themselves for the failure and lament their sorrows in the same cave, where they end up saying the same things at the same time. The familial connection is there regardless of what’s cemented as fact, which makes it upsetting that Applejack has to go catch a train back to Sweet Apple Acres.
Granny Smith’s knowledge of this history is a point in favor of the Apple and Pie families’ relation.
On the ride home, Granny Smith draws in the train windows as she reveals the story behind Holder’s Boulder. An ancestor of Pinkie Pie’s found it in a nest, and the whole rock farm was built around this boulder which was said to bring good luck. I can easily believe that Applejack never took the time to consider this rock’s historical significance, since she’s so used to how her family does things.
I’ll discuss the perplexing properties of Applejack’s hat in the miscellaneous notes.
Applejack then gets her gift from Pinkie Pie, labeled “cousins forever”. It turns out Pinkie Pie somehow managed to hide a gift in a moving vehicle, which leads the Apples to have a change of heart and stop the train.
The Apples see the Pies struggling to push the boulder back up, so Applejack explains what she learned about sharing family traditions, then the families work together to push it. This is a lot like the whole Apple family working together to rebuild the barn in Apple Family Reunion—recovering from disasters as a team is something the Apples do well.
It’s a little weird that these two are teased as a ship when Pinkie Pie keeps calling Applejack “cousin”.
Maybe that’s why this ship doesn’t come to pass in the end.
Next up, we get a little montage of the Apple and Pie family member pairs having some good times. Maud Pie introduces Apple Bloom to Boulder and they both smile, the former very subtly. Big Mac and Marble Pie blush together and display some romantic tension. Granny Smith and Pinkie Pie’s parents practice each other’s ways of talking, and Applejack opens her gift from Pinkie Pie, which is of course a rock.
To end this episode on a comedic note, Maud Pie recites some poems she wrote, with rock-based rhymes that crack me up way too hard:
Maud Pie: Hearth’s Warming is great. Like calcium silicate.
Maud Pie: What a wonderful day. As good as mica. Or clay.
From this episode onwards, when watching the show for the first time, I was always excited to see Maud Pie again. Her deadpan humor is so off the charts, it’s unreal.
An oddity from the credits (which are scored with relaxing Christmas-ish orchestral music) is that Pinkie Pie’s parents, despite having canon names, are listed as Ma Pie and Pa Pie. Perhaps they originally didn’t have names in the episode’s script, but then it imported the names Igneous Rock and Cloudy Quartz from the chapter book that named them.
This episode does a great job avoiding the cliché of “Christmas is about friendship, not presents” which every Christmas episode could have easily been about. It’s mainly a tale of bonding between family members, following up on Pinkie Apple Pie by having Applejack’s immediate family meet the rest of Pinkie Pie’s. I like how Pinkie Pie’s sisters are three different interpretations of “foil to Pinkie Pie”, and the eccentric ways of all her sisters and parents give this family such a unique character. I had thought I might criticize Applejack’s portrayal as stubborn or common Christmas episode tropes, but instead I enjoyed analyzing it a lot.
This could have easily been a boring, stereotypical Christmas episode, and I greatly respect that it isn’t.
- Given that he’s nearly squishing Apple Bloom from his upper bunk, I believe Big Macintosh is the type who insists on getting the upper bunk whenever he slept in bunk beds; maybe he thinks he deserves to be on top because he’s the oldest child. I was like that as a kid too.
- Applejack’s hat is strong enough to protect her head from a rock dropped on her, but not strong enough to withstand a lawnmower. We already know that Applejack keeps many copies of her hat, but could it be that her hats only look identical? Maybe they’re made of different materials for different purposes, concealed by an unassuming design.
Next up, we go ten months in the future (or two months in the past) for a far more seasonally appropriate episode for the present month.
See you next week for an episode relatable to anyone who doesn’t like something all their friends do, and then another Discord episode.