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19 February 2012

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. "A Friend in Deed" REVIEW

Dear Brony Fandom, this week I learnt a very important lesson about we all. Sometimes, we may get angry, we might get ridiculous, or even overreact. All these times, we will regret our actions, and we will look back at them thinking how wrong we were when acting like this. But this isn't what I learnt, as I already knew that. What I learnt is that sometimes this fandom might seem difficult, and even harsh, but that doesn't mean is not worth fighting for. With my heart on my hand, I tell all the seventeen of you who follow me (and all you wonderful random visitors from EqD), that you guys are the best of the best. Even if sometimes you make me facepalm. And now let's stop being sappy and go for the episode review.

This here is a TL;DR and what follows is the full review. This TL;DR is short and concise, as it resumes my views on the episode in a small paragraph consisting on two questions. Those who prefer to partake on the long review, may finish this TL;DR and continue reading. Those who have better things to do, may skip to the end of the article once this TL;DR is over. Is the episode good in Friendship is Magic standards? It's amazing, good doesn't even begin to describe it. Is this the best episode of season 2? Guys, objectively speaking, it can very well be. And if you want to find out, keep reading.

So the episode starts with Pinkie Pie readying to recreate the ending of "Flashdance". Seriously, leg warmers, head bands, all she needs is to throw herself on a chair and pull from a rope that soaks her in sarsaparilla. But that doesn't happen (I don't know if feeling thankful or disappointed) as she begins her morning routine. Or so it seems, because what she does looks like what Robin Williams must do before a stand up, with all the over the top facial expressions and aerobics at the rhythm of gags. It turns out that she is, once again, taking care of the baby cakes, Pound and Pumpkin, and I swear to Luna I cheered up like a moron. The baby Cakes are amongst the most likable characters in this show. Seeing them again really brought a smile to my face and, wouldn't you know, this episode is all about that: Smiling, being happy! So the episode continues as we see Pinkie Pie going out in her daily routine, which consists in basically being nice to ponies. I have to point out, we have never seen Pinkie Pie interacting with anyone outside of her environment. We have seen her interacting with the Mane Six, or with the Cakes, but we never saw her interacting with, well, background ponies. So what she does with them is very nice: She makes them happy.

What kind of drug she uses, that's up for you to debate.
And then we get to the song. This was the song that got leaked a few months ago, and for several reasons I didn't listen to it. I was mostly being fair, because what's the point of listening to a song in this show without the visuals that give it impact? I also didn't want to over-hype it, but the side effect of that is that when you try not to over-hype something you end up dreading it. "Oh no", I was thinking, "Here comes the song and it's going to let me down". Yeah I know, lessons from this show would have teach me not to judge something before seeing it, but fear is something I can't control. But I am delaying my opinion too much, so here's what I think of it: It's actually really, really-Oh hell, "good" is a petty word, try "Absolutely Amazing"! This is my favourite song from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic as right now. You can keep "Art of the Dress"; you can keep "Becoming Popular"; you can keep "May the Best Pet Win". This is the song that pulls my heartstrings and hits me right in the heartbeat valve. Why? Because it's a song about making you happy! It doesn't try to teach you a lesson, it doesn't try to tell a story, it just asks you for one single thing: Smile. It's so simple it's impossible not to be affected by it. The song starts really slow, very well paced, Pinkie Pie mixes the singing parts with the talking parts to a good degree, and by the end there's chorus, a parade, Pinkie surrounded by all her friends (which basically amounts for the entire town), all joined together just because they want to be happy. If I ever feel down I will crank up my iPod, put this song in and cheer up. It's a definitely "feel good" song, which fits with this episode's tone as it also is a "feel good" story.

There is also a subtle message about cloning and genoma soldiers.
So now that I talked long and gone about this episode's song, what about the story? Well apparently there is a new coming resident to Ponyville, an old donkey called Cranky Doodle, who doesn't seem all that happy to begin with. From the get go he was giving me "UP" vibes. The way he talked, and his overall attitude reminded me a lot of Carl Friedricksen, especially his constant use of the word "kid" when talking to Pinkie Pie, and Pinkie's behaviour towards him. Cranky is moving to Ponyville, after spending years travelling all over Equestria, and he doesn't seem that open to make new friends. Pinkie, shocked by this, phases into Kirby's Epic Yarn Land and checks over the things she has done to try and appeal to Cranky. That whole segment is priceless. Yeah, I know Spongebob does something similar from time to time, but I never expect this coming from My Little Pony. It's a refreshing change of style that is cute, it's funny, and helps to explain how Pinkie Pie thinks. Then she pulls one of those green "check" signs out of her head and freaks me out. I guess it's pretty much confirmed there people. Pinkie Pie is completely self aware of her cartoon nature. I'm calling it guys, there will be a future episode where Pinkie Pie steps through the PC screen of the animation department and hangs out with Jayson Thiessen and Daniel Ingram in an Irish Pub.

First this felt "Check". And then, The World!
So Pinkie is set to appeal to Cranky but all her attempts fail miserably. She tries to talk to him, but he's not that interested in making new friends. She tries to present him to a welcome waggon, only for it to backfire (literally) on her attempt. She goes as far as taking him to the Spa and gifting him a new wig (fabulous wig). Despite Cranky being impressed, and somewhat pleased with Pinkie's last attempt at making him happy, he still doesn't smile, which puzzles her. We then cut to his house, located in the outskirts of Ponyville, where Pinkie Pie finds out Cranky has all sorts of knick-knacks from all over Equestria, as he said. He has a snow globe from Canterlot, a Christmas tree bulb from Fillydelphia, and all other sorts of stuff. It's in this moment when he lets slip a revealing point of his past, when he mentions a certain someone in a slip of the tongue. This is when my "UP" alarms went off the charts, and I was hooked from that moment to the end of the episode. Pinkie keeps checking over his stack of things and accidentally sets his draft book on fire, burning what was a collection of memories. Cranky kicks her out of the house and tells her he will never, ever, ever, ever, ever be her friend. Pinkie Pie cries out.

"Four evers...that's like, forever."

I was sad for her, I giggled at the pun and I got angry at myself for finding it funny. It was a complicated emotion that went through my face, you know?

It was right between those two faces.
After the commercial break, which I grew to actually being able to completely ignore, we see Pinkie Pie talking to Twilight in her Library about how she shouldn't have actually tried and shove her happiness into Cranky's life. Pinkie Pie then decides to make one last visit to Cranky's house and make him accept her apologies. This goes as well as any of us could expect. Pinkie Pie chases Cranky around Ponyville in a chase scene that makes that one with Rainbow Dash in episode 5 of season 1 look tiny in comparison. Those things Pinkie Pie can do with her eyes are squeamish. She is definitely made out of cotton candy and molten sugar because, wow. Even with that chase Cranky still doesn't accept Pinkie's apologies. However Pinkie Pie is from Tank's School for Fillies and Colts and she doesn't give up. In a rare moment of brightness, she tries to deduce what Cranky is going through. Mere seconds later, she shows up to his door, and at first he refuses to open. Until he hears a voice that is definitely not Pinkie's. His eyes widen like saucers, as he removes the locks, opens the door, and stares at the female donkey before him.

"Matilda..." he says, quickly going inside and putting on his new wig.

The deal with Cranky is that he spent all those years travelling through Equestria looking for Matilda after she left the next day after the Grand Galloping Gala. He never found her, and so he gave up and moved to Ponyville, thinking he would never be able to see her again. It wasn't until Pinkie noticed the photos on the burnt draft book that she realised the female donkey of them was actually Matilda, a dear friend of hers who also has a very similar draft book. So if it hadn't been for Pinkie Pie finding that draft book, Cranky and Matilda would've never been together again. Matilda then kisses Cranky, which makes him smile of pure joy and thankfully accepts Pinkie as his new friend. Pinkie Pie then finds out that ponies can actually explode twice: First with a set of fireworks, and then of happiness. The episode ends with Pinkie delivering the moral, and Cranky and Matilda moving together to Cranky's house.

The toupee gets its own bedroom.
So that was "A Friend in Deed" and, let me tell you guys, it's amazing. I will go as far and call it the best episode written by Amy Keating Rogers. She wrote some great works for the series already (Bridle Gossip, Dog and Pony Show, Best Night Ever, Last Roundup), but this is definitely her best work yet. She managed to take this character in Cranky Doodle and turn him into a very interesting, very likable guy. As I said, I was hooked from the moment he started dropping snippets of back story, and he comes across as just a bitter old man who has given up in life, though that doesn't make him an ungrateful ass (pun intended). He is very appreciative of Pinkie when she gifts him the spa treatment and the wig, but he isn't pleased because that's not what makes him happy. For a new character to have a consistent and well paced arc in 22 minutes takes a lot of effort, especially when nothing feels out of place. That's what makes Amy's scripts so good. There's nothing you can add, but there's nothing you can take out either. They are perfect, all round, pristine, perfect. Having no room for other interpretations or "what ifs" is a perfect price I'm willing to pay.

There were also a lot of little things that I liked. That animated felt-world segment was amazing. To know that Jayson Thiessen and his wife worked on it in their spare time just because they wanted to have fun, shows what kind of team we have working on this series. It's adorable and heart warming. I loved to see Rainbow Dash hanging out with Twilight and reading books in her library. That little part says a lot about how she's developing as a character this season. I loved the cameos of each of the Mane Six. I loved seeing Roseluck again! She's still a really good pony, and so nice to Pinkie. Zecora's cameo was pretty neat. Speaking of cameos, Derpy inside a snow globe is just crazy. The Baby Cakes were adorable as well. That song that I can't listen to enough times, my God that was awesome. This is definitely not your average MLP:FiM episode, this goes above average. We've been having quite a long run of episodes where there were a few hit and miss moments; episodes where I had a tight feel of dread gripping my gut while I watched certain moments. However, there was none of that with this episode. It's simple, it's sweet, and it's heart warming. It's a feel good episode, that will definitely make you smile. And in the end, isn't that the most important thing about being part of this fandom?

Besides playing "Where's Waldo?" with Derpy in every episode.
- Defining Moment(s): The song at the beginning of the episode, the stop-motion felt world scene, or seeing Cranky Doodle meet again with Matilda. Pick one, two, or all of them. I am picking all of them.

- Moral: Having friends is great, but sometimes some of these friends will want to be alone, and that's something we have to respect. Also, the best thing about friends is making them smile. I will also personally add that making friends will always help you find that thing you need the most in your life. You should let people in, especially if they have good intentions.


  1. Excellent review, I see that several parts of the episode that I enjoyed made it in for you as well. Smile was an excellent song indeed, and I catch my foot tapping along every time I hear it.

    Ive written my own recap for this episode, and it can be found at

    1. Smile is the best song of the entire series, and I don't throw that title lightly. The previous owner of that position was "Art of the Dress", that's how much I loved "Smile, smile, smile!".

  2. In sort a way I am Jealous of you, James. As I don't possess so much willpower, I heard the leaked Smile song the minute I knew about it, and being a Pinkie song, I wouldn't even dreamed on resisting. When I watched it in the episode, the choreography was almost as I imagined myself, it was perfect, and I was overblown when I watched the Mane Six joining at the parade lifting Pinkie on their shoulders. I almost cried.
    Now about the episode, it was pretty good, and you are completely right about the UP reference; I could visualize Carl Fredricksen very sharply in Cranky and is great.
    The only things that ruined this episode a little bit was Pinkie's attempts of befriending Cranky; she looked like a simple, obnoxious child (SpongeBob), and i was thinking: "Come on Pinkie, you are better than him". Yes, although I'm a Spongebob fan; but Pinkie being Pinkie, I expect better from the best. But at end she made herself up when she uses her super photographic memory to brought herself the long lost love who casually lives in Ponyville. It was so funny and sweet, but Pinkie just can't leave something just funny and sweet, as she brought epicness by exploding twice with a "Sonic Pinkie Rocket" of happiness. It was so awesome.

    1. Oh don't be jealous, really. It's not so much willpower as it is having a lot to do and not enough time to check everything. I could've checked the song, but I had Fallout: Equestria to read.

      I am tempted to ask Amy Keating Rogers about that possible refference.

      She did get close to come accross like that for me, but in the end she is trying too hard. You can't blame her for trying. She's doing the same thing she did when Twilight came to town for the first time. Also, notice how happy she got when Cranky accepted her friendship. That's a meaningful friendship. Last time that happened, she helped vanquishing a milenary evil.

  3. I admit that I've lost touch with MLP since December. I haven't actually watched a new episode since... hell, Cutie Pox or Sisterhooves. I certainly didn't totally cut myself off from the fandom (I'm following this blog :D ) but I just scaled wayyyyyy back on all things pony. Reading your reviews has been the next best thing to watching the eps, and for this one I might just break down and watch it 'cause of all the wonderful things it seems to have and that'll spark a great big catch-up marathon and wooooosh I'll be full-on 100% brony again. I'm rambling; I just wanted to thank you for putting these reviews together. They're appreciated!

    1. I find it hard to lose touch with MLP, I'm too deep into it. It has become my reality, it's my limbo (Inception refference).

      I am really happy that you enjoy my reviews man and that you hold them in such high regards. Thank you a lot!!! :D

  4. Okay, I must confess myself astonished. I had no idea there were this many Pinkie Pie fanboys/-girls out there. Goes to show you that you shouldn't rely on anyone else sharing your and your friends' opinion on anything, much less an MLP episode.

    I can't exactly say what rubbed me the wrong way about this episode, but something really did. "The best writing by Amy Keating Rogers"? Yeah, no. Sorry. Not even close, even if only because there simply wasn't that much writing to be had between the song and the chase sequence, both of which didn't require writing on Ms. Keating Rogers' part.

    This episode felt drawn out (that was the third chase sequence of this kind, find something new to do, people), Pinkie was at her most annoying in large parts of it (not all, I'll admit) and (worst of all) that girl has to be the biggest Karma Houdini ever, to the point where getting off scot free for what she does might be her real special talent. The lesson she pretended to have learned does not mash up with her behaviour in this episode in the slightest - the message that came across to me was more along the lines of "if someone doesn't want to be your friend, just pester them until they give in".

    This doesn't sit right with me, and I do hope we get an episode someday where Pinkie gets what's been coming to her from day one, must admit to her mistakes, and her friends have to help her out (I think she's the only one among the Mane Six who does not have an episode of that type yet). The song was good, but even that had a strange feeling to it - do we really need an I Am Song from a member of the Mane Six at this point in the series, especially one that doesn't really tie in to the episode's plot and could be excised from it without actually affecting it? Great as the song was, it was no "Winter Wrap Up" or "Art of the Dress".

    I loved Cranky as a character, and I must admit I admire his self-control. In his place, I'd probably have done some really nasty things to Pester Pie. And though you could see the ending coming a mile away, it was still cute. But oh, that Pinkie. Dearie, when someone tells you they just want to be left alone, try respecting their wishes next time, okay? I hope that the lesson wins out in the end; I don't want to see her acting this rudely ever again. This crossed the line from "adult child" into "Sheldon Cooper wouldn't do stuff like that". (Big Bang Theory for the win! ;) )

    Sum total: This is a candidate for the worst episode of the season for me. It felt redundant, it got massively annoying at times, and the lesson at the end just felt tacked on.

    Sheesh. I never thought I'd live to see the day I tear this massively into an MLP episode. Goes to show that Pinkie is like cinnamon - works fine as a condiment, not so well as the only ingredient.


    1. Hey there! Wow, now that's a comment. I will address your concerns in paragraphs, like how you wrote it.

      I am not a Pinkie Pie fanboy. I actually like her the least of the Mane Six, but I really liked her in this episode. The song did a lot for me, and the fact that her purpose is to just make ponies smile. She's really good at that.

      I think this is AKR's best writing, because that's my opinion. It has no more weight. What do you think is her best writing in the series? My other favorite episodes of her are "Bridle Gossip", "Fall Weather Friends" and "The Last Round-Up".

      The lesson is still valid, because after she helped Cranky find Matilda, she left them alone. If she had learned no lesson, she would've been annoying them until the episode ended. She does that for a short time, but that's for "Rule of Funny".

      I think this worked great as "Lets make Pinkie Pie likable" episode. It made her likable for me.

      Since you are quoting, let me quote Applecider from the Bronyville podcast: It's just a children's show. Also, Pester Pie? Really?

      Sum total: It's just opinion. Remember this comes from the guy who loves The Mysterious Mare-do-Well, so what I think doesn't carry too much weight for the Brony comunity. I just like sharing my opinion and I love seeing other people's.

      Don't sweat it man. I could spend three weeks raging about Over a Barrell, which in my opinion I think is the worst episode of the series.

    2. Please don't think for a second that I don't respect your opinion on this episode. But you do have open comments, and I needed someplace to vent, so I might as well do it halfway articulately and in a place that fits. :) Also, I didn't necessarily mean you by the "Pinkie Pie fanboy", but all the comments I've seen on this episode so far were so positive that I was starting to wonder whether I'd seen a different episode altogether.

      Yes, Pester Pie. This episode actually went far enough with her annoying side that I feel completely justified in that nickname, and I stand by it. And this is coming from someone who actually liked "Baby Cakes". The kids show argument doesn't really apply here either, because even some members of the target demographic may very well find issue with Pinkie's behaviour (we're supposed to find it at least mildly annoying, going by Twilight and Rainbow's reactions).

      The final bit of the episode does work a little, even though rule of funny or not, that part with Pinkie at the window somewhat undermined it. It's simply that most everything before it in this episode doesn't fit with the lesson, so it still feels tacked on, or at least rushed.

      AKR's best writing? Difficult, but I think I'd go with "Bridle Gossip". That episode introduced (or at least fleshed out) two of the most popular side characters, Apple Bloom and Zecora, plus it managed to convey a lesson (to all of the Mane Six, no less) that fit the flow of the story, AND it had some of the funniest moments in the show (okay, granted, seeing Pinkie robbed of the ability to speak, if only temporarily, did contribute to my enjoyment more than it probably should ;) ).

      Over a Barrel wasn't exactly the best moment of the series, true enough. I also harbour a certain dislike for Feeling Pinkie Keen, but that's not because of Pinkie (weird as that may sound coming from me :) ), but because of the lesson conveyed, which was just complete BS. Sorry, no, there aren't things I just have to accept. But that's just my scientific worldview leaking through, which really shouldn't apply to a kids' show (and the lesson of that episode hopefully wasn't meant that way, it just came across that way to the periphery demographic, or a large part of it).

      Also, where exactly was I quoting? Just curious, because if I did, it wasn't intentional.

      In total: Neither of us should sweat it, I guess. But after reading all the overwhelmingly positive comments on this episode, I just felt the need to supply a dissenting viewpoint - which, I might add, happened for the first time when reading one of your reviews, keep up the good work. It's just that I find it far easier to give a reasoned counterpoint than I find it to write a second positive opinion - why bother when the review itself already said it all? And perhaps I just wanted to give a shout out to the other people out there who didn't enjoy this episode too much: You Are Not Alone.

    3. Okie dokie, no worries man, no worries. By all means, vent away. That's why I allow everyone to post comments without moderation. I only delete spam, and it's obvious you are not ;D

      I can still see how one can consider her a nuissance in this episode. She didn't shut up and she didn't stop trying to force her friendship into Cranky. However, these aspects don't seem to be deal breakers for many people. They are not deal breakers for me, so that's why I still enjoy it, even though I asbolutely agree with you in this reasoning.

      I totally understand why you needed to vent, so no worries man. I just wished this blog to be more popular so your message could reach further to those who didn't enjoy the episode ^_^;

  5. "Pinkie has been doubled!!" I really needed to do that, OMG.

  6. I don't think I can add something new that others haven't already said. Seen from Crankys perspective, Pinkie has to be the most annoying thing ever. Ever seen Cable Guy with Jim Carrey?

    But the song, oh the song, that song was just super terrific.

  7. I just watched this episode (I have only become a fan recently), and even though Pinkie Pie is probably my 2nd favourite pony (and was my favourite for a while, until I saw Suited for Success), I really disliked this episode. It took all of Pinkie Pie's best qualities, and made them negative. Instead of being her usual caring, bubbly, generous self, she came across as obsessive, selfish, obnoxious and intrusive. This episode reminded me of Homer's Enemy, and not in a good way. The way the episode was written made Pinkie seem like she didn't really care about Cranky as a person, but simply as someone who needs who needed to be forced into her collection. I love Pinkie Pie, but this episode me her really unlikable to me.