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11 December 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. "Secret of my Excess" REVIEW

Perception, as it is nowadays, is something funny for us human beings. It doesn’t matter how much we try to view things from an objective point of view, we will always end up personalizing our feedback because, in the end, it’s our own opinion. That’s what defines reviews like these or opinions throughout forums, chat rooms, blogs and websites in general: Perception. But we also tend to forget that perception is something we can’t live without. How will we be able to tell if someone is in love with us without it? And that’s where we step into the review of “Secret of my Excess”, probably the most entertaining episode of Season 2 so far.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me give you my useful, flashy and (this time) marginally short TL;DR so you can skip all the way down to see my even flashier and more useful predicted interest curve. Is the episode good? No, it’s freaking awesome. Are fans of Spike going to enjoy this episode? Yes, and those who aren’t fans of Spike will (very likely) become fans of Spike in the process. And if you hang around here for a couple of paragraphs I will tell you why.

For that matter, spoilers above too.
So the episode starts, and right away we have a good beginning with Twilight organizing her library assisted by the tempo of “Sword in the Stone” and the Jimmy Hart’s version of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”. It’s funny how, in every episode of this season thus far, every time we’ve started with Twilight it has been with a musical homage to other well known pieces. If this turns into a trademark of the series, I will be okay with it. But the focus of this intro is not her book-organizing skills, but Spike’s birthday! That’s right, Spike’s first birthday in Ponyville is happening, and to celebrate it he is going to eat nothing but a fire stone from Pokémon. Awesome! He will evolve into Charizard!

Actually no, it’s a fire ruby he’s been growing for months, and he is going to eat it for his birthday as a personal gift for himself. But then Rarity, the platonic love of his life, steps into the Library, sees the gemstone and she’s awestruck by how beautiful it is. Unable to hide her interest for the gem, Rarity hopes for Spike to have a nice dinner, wishing she could have one just like it. But Spike’s love for Rarity is bigger than his hunger as he, reluctantly, gives her the gemstone. She is so happy that she bounces around Pinkie Pie style and then proceeds to make something that made my heart skip a beat.

All together now: *GASP!*
My brain had to stop for one second to process the pure bliss it was experiencing. Rarity just kissed Spike and it was glorious. I come from the “X Files” school of nerdering, and when it comes to platonic relationships I’m always on the look for the moment that makes the whole thing worth it. For the love between Spike and Rarity, this was it. And I say was because the episode is just starting. After such kiss Spike faints (let’s be honest, who wouldn’t!?) and then we skip to his birthday, where he’s showered with presents. The biggest surprise for me was how unused Spike is to this praise and care. How defeated he sounds when he mentions he only gets one present for his birthday and that it has always been a book. Yeah alright, it’s a book given with all the care, love and attention of the World, and books are neat, but it’s just a book. So seeing him so thankful and happy with so many presents was also pretty touching. However, as touching as it is this is something you shouldn’t do with a dragon, because the more presents Spike is given, the more he wants. So he goes out to Ponyville to get himself a lot more presents. And then things get out of hand. Really, badly, terribly, irremediably, out of hand.

Before going any further I want to say that I’m not one to over-read everything, so take that into account because these are my thoughts exactly as I was watching the episode. Spike wakes up the next morning and discovers that his body has changed. He has hoarded himself a neat amount of stuff and his legs and arms are wonky and overly long. His voice changes and he sees the World covered in shinny sparks, making him want to grab every single thing he comes across. They take him to the Doctors, but they don’t know what’s wrong with him. They take him to the vets, but no luck either. Finally, and out of rational options, Twilight takes her to Zecora. It’s funny how, despite trusting the zebra now more than she trusted her before, Twilight puts medicine before Zecora’s traditional ways. It’s good to see she stays in character. However, Zecora’s awful rhymes predict that Spike’s hoarding instincts have kicked in and that he’s stealing and hoarding as much stuff as he can, even by force. What follows is a series of scenes where Twilight and her friends try to stop Spike from getting more stuff for his hoard, as he shapeshifts and turns into a monster which has very little resemblance to the adorable baby dragon he once was. Okay, as I said I am not one to overread or anything, but watching that this came to my mind.

Windows Fanfare and everything.
Thankfully that thought flies out the window as soon as the episode turns into a mix between Godzilla and King Kong. We have the big scaly monsters terrorizing the town, and the damsel in distress scenario, as Spike kidnaps Rarity because she’s wearing the Fire Ruby as a necklace. But of course, being this My Little Pony: Female Characters are actually Three-dimensional, the damsel in distress is more like damsel outraged because her dress is torn and her kidnapper is rude. As Rarity calls out Spike (not knowing who he is and, let’s be honest, who could tell!?) for being so impolite, the Wonderbolts show up to try and save the day, and they are so awesome it takes them thirty seconds…to get caught in a water tank like a bunch of flies. However, it’s good to see somepony else besides the Mane Cast trying to save the day for once. Kudos for trying guys!

As things seem out of control and unsolvable, Spike takes note of Rarity’s necklace, to which she refuses to give him and tells how she got it. The giant Spike dragon looks at the gem and a memory unlocks into his brain. We are then treated to a pretty neat and quite interesting flashback where we see Spike giving Rarity the Fire Ruby from Spike’s point of view. If you didn’t feel for their love before, you’ll most likely feel it now. This memory alone makes him stop rampaging and, in a rather predictable turn of events, he reverts back to baby dragon form. To mimic Rarity in episode 9, Pro: There will be no more destruction; Con: Spike and Rarity are now free-falling from the highest peak in Ponyville.

And this is the part that makes this entire episode amazing. This is also a trademark I’ve seen happening in every episode written by M.A. Larson. The guy is a master of build up, and I think this episode shows his talent even better than “Sonic Rainboom”. The only purpose of this episode is to bring us to that moment when Rarity and Spike are free falling and Spike, terrified, confesses to Rarity.

Rarity, I need to tell you something, just in case we don’t make it! I’ve always sort of have a crush-!

And then Rarity stops him, putting a hoof on his mouth and smiling at him, her eyes filling with tears.

You can hear the Joe Hisaishi soundtrack in your head, right?
She knows. And she’s happy about it.

Let me tell you something. There are TV shows, movies, books, that yearn to have the level of complexity and depth that scene alone has. There is no dialogue, no words, nothing between Rarity and Spike but thin air. They just look at each other, saying more with their expressions than with their voices. This is a triumph in terms of storytelling, character development and (yepp) love, and it made me tear up like a baby for how happy I was for both Spike and the Writing Staff. In one of the rarest examples, love is not needed to express how heart wrenching it is. You have to consider this platonic love he professes for Rarity has been building up for well over a year. Since the first time Spike saw Rarity when he arrived to Ponyville, he’s been love struck by her, and every time he has had the chance to show this love, he was usually met with a stuttering tongue or a cold sweat that pulled him away. But not anymore. Of course, their relationship might never happen in the show, but the fact that Rarity knows, and we can say she’s honored by it, makes this really sweet and touching. You see!? ANOTHER SURPRISE! I really didn’t see that one coming, I totally didn’t. The reversion Spike suffers going back to his baby dragon form, yeah I did see that. But Spike confessing to Rarity only to have her stop him because she knows? Nope, that one was a surprise. Well done M.A. Larson, you are not only my favorite writer of the show; you are THE BEST WRITER as well.

By the end of the episode, Spike is the one sending the letter to Princess Celestia, with a very important lesson he learnt about friendship (and I guess about life itself as well). You don’t have to become greedy just because people give you a lot of things. Stay humble and don’t try to get more than what you really need. This is a really good lesson for little kids, especially when they are in the age of “I want more! I want more! I want more!” followed by a fit of rage and kicks. This lesson is okay, but what I really like is what Rarity tells Spike. Nothing else could stop Spike, but himself. And he did, in fact stopped himself, showing that if you want to solve a problem that affects you the only one who can take the first step is you and nobody else. Yes, that PSA slogan is coming to my head once more, but that’s how I think. I was raised in the 90’s guys, it was a massive thing back then. 

So that was Secret of my Excess and, well, I really liked it. I am still not a massive fan of Spike like other bronies are, but I acknowledge he is a very interesting character. He has his flaws and his virtues, as well as a lot of personality traits. But if I like this episode so much as to call it one of the best from Season 2 it’s because of Rarity. She is awesome in this episode. Remember how reluctant she was in some parts of episode 9, especially when her friends showed up in the Garden Party? Well here she’s straightforward and direct, not taking time for distractions and going to the point. Plus, she remains awfully strong when Spike kidnaps her, showing she is fragile but can also pony-up when things get tough. It hurts me now because I am divided between Rarity and Rainbow Dash for who is my favorite pony, and I think I will never be able to decide. I will say this though. If I had to stay at home during a thunder storm, I’d rather stay with Rarity than with Dashie. You draw your own conclusions out of that. I however, will go make a drawing of Spike hugging Rarity. Because yeah, we have many kisses, but we need a hug! HUG! HUG! HUG! HUG!

HUGS! *hugs*

- Defining Moment: Spike is going to confess. Rarity doesn’t let him. Because she already knows. Tears ahoy.

- Moral: If people give you presents, gifts or just anything, you shouldn’t turn greedy and start asking for more. Also, excess of everything is never a good thing.


  1. Sooooooooo... Text wal ahead, hope you don't mind but i just heave to talk about this episode with someone.

    So far was my favorite episode, not only of this season, but from the whole series.

    For Real.

    It satarted very promising, for some reason i was very impressedwith the animation when Twilight lifts all the books then drop them in the floor, not shure why but i loved it.

    Then it comes the Kiss scene, and even though everypony is joking that she seduced him to give her the gem I think is pretty obvious that for spike a Rarity's Kiss is worth one thousand rubis.

    And for me this episode only got better from that moment, I really love when Twilight take Spike to the doctor and the Vet, those characters are really cool and I hope to see some fanfiction of them.

    I also love the Zekora scene because the revelation of the dragon's nature explains alot.

    Ony thing I amazing about this episode is that not only M.A. Larson NAILED the Characterization in this episode, but every character had his chance to shine, Applejack had the hilarious tied up scene, Rainbow Dash Laughting out loud afterwards... And the ergument with the dragon...And the last minute saving, Pinkie Pie "Not giving him cake but assaulting him with cake" and her face when the sugar cube corner is destroyed, Fluttershy in the argument scene and when she saves them, Twilight sparkle in, well, several moments and of Course, Rarity in her best Characterization so far "... Witch I understand because you are adragon an all. But THIS! This is a crime against fashion!".

    I loved when I realized that for Rarity the beauty of the ruby wasn't so meaningful to her as the fact that Spike gave it to her.

    You know, the supreme evidence that this episode is marvelous is that since i could'nt watch it on the live stream I ended up watching during the VGA's, i knew that it would be a Mass Effect 3 trailer, a Diablo 3 trailer, A new Epic and bioware debut trailers, and a Metal Gear Solid Rising trailer... And I was not giving a Fuck for that.

    I was never so pround to be a Brony.

  2. Oh, and sorry 'bout the typos, my english isn't the best.

  3. @Evil Monkey

    No worries for the typos man, I love your comment :D

    You also mentioned a lot of elements I left out of the review and I really thank you for that. This episode is massive, it has a lot of elements to it and if I stopped to address and everyone of them I wouldn't have ended the review anytime soon >_> I'd still be writing it.

    Thanks a lot for your opinion :D

  4. You know that an 22 minute episode is goon when you can talk about it for easly more than two hours.

    Wen i went to sleep last nigh i went with a smyle on my face, and "Secret of My Excess" is the only thing to blame. And I dont think you can give an animator a better complement than that.

    You know, this episode made me realize something. Fuck the people that don't wanna watch My Little Pony because is girly, the don't know what they are missing.

  5. Let me tell you James that if your not a massive fan of Spike, you are not my equal as a Brony. Leaving that, this is a great episode, but if would be perfect if it weren't for Twilight, it was pretty stupid that she apparently didn't have a book of dragons to rely on instead of looking at a pony doctor and a vet, before recurring to Zecora. The episode was very action packed and filled with gags but Im not so fond in how Twilight and AJ were tied up to the tree because I remember perfectly how in Season 1 they were the most sharpest ponies there and now the are being reduced to fill comedy gags. The moral is classic and fell so good in this episode: "Giving is better than receiving", because instead of pushing the episode to reach the moral (The mysterious mare do well), the moral pushed the episode to be awesome. Other moral i get from this episode is that giving love is best when it gets the best out of you and not the worst.

  6. @schris3

    That's a bit overanalyzed for the show's sake, don't you think?

    Also "The Mysterious Mare do Well"'s moral is more to counter the moral in "Boast Busters", and I don't think it's forced. But I loved Spiderman 3, so I doubt my opinion has any weight, right?

  7. I've seen blogs that review tv episodes in this format before, but I don't know why I haven't seeked out an FIM-centered one. Thanks for mentioning this in the Excess follow-up EQD thread. I dig the casual candor and the references, and the awesomeness timeline is a nice touch. If you've done other episodes, I'm gonna go check 'em out! Cheers.

  8. @Nope

    Thank you!

    You can check the previous episodes I've reviewed on the "TV Reviews" section.

  9. I liked this review and I loved the episode. I just had a thought about Spike's growth. When Zecora was talking to Twilight, she said "A dragon's heart is prone to greed, a steady diet to make growth speed."

    The first thing I noticed was that she referred to greed speeding up a dragon's growth. We've seen accelerated growth in Spike before, during the Cutie Mark Chronicles. In that episode, he didn't look anything like a regular dragon. Perhaps, if a dragon grows too quickly, it changes their appearance?

    The second thing I noticed was her usage of the words, 'a steady diet'. His "diet" wasn't exactly steady, and this might have also been a factor in his strange appearance.

    Or, you know, he could just end up looking like that when he's older.

  10. :v so wait..that's why no one ever commented on these things? Cuz no one knew!?!?!?

  11. @ELT

    Apparently :/

    I welcome everyone to comment here, even anon posts. I have no problem with it, I just want to share my opinion with everyone, because that way they share theirs with me.

    So, feel free to comment!

  12. We talked about this episode in Babble with Bronies yesterday. Funny enough the episode aired on my Birthday. This episode ranks among my favorite episodes of S2.