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15 January 2012

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. "Baby Cakes" REVIEW

I sometimes find myself thinking if what I’m doing is the right thing. I don’t mean something deep as “Should I be watching ponies instead of studying law or medicine?” No, no, no, I’m not that shallow. I mean things like “Should I keep an eye on this website for updates, or should I work on the next drawing? Or should I reply to all the emails and messages I get (between 1 and 2), or should I go downstairs and finish Fallout: New Vegas once and for all? It’s a mess, I know, but I usually end up wasting three to four hours of my day down the drain because of my inability to choose what to do. Thankfully, now that I have a job, I’ll be able to admin my time better.

So after three hours of doing nothing but refreshing my Twitter feed to find news about SOPA, let’s get down to review a new MLP: FiM episode! But first, allow me to give you my neatly wrapped up TL; DR of it. Is the episode good? Oh God, people, why do I keep putting this one? It’s “Friendship is Magic”! Of course it will be good! I think I keep putting it just in case we have another Over a Barrel. Is it the best Pinkie Pie episode? Actually, yes, it is. I am going to go as far as calling it one of the best character-centric episodes of the series, right up there with Lesson Zero, Suited for Success or Dragonshy. And if you want me to tell you why, just keep reading. Or you can skip to the chart; either option is fine by me.

So the episode starts with a lesson in Pony Genetics. No, seriously, it starts with a very well planned, well thought out and (thank Luna) magic-free explanation of how ponies reproduce and breed in Equestria. We see Mister Carrot Cake and Miss Cup Cake got two babies, a unicorn and a pegasus. This causes the Mane Six to wonder how come they are not earth ponies since their parents are. Apparently there are ancestors in both Miss and Mr. Cake’s families that were pegasi and unicorns, so the genes pass onto their babies. Now, I am not a biologist, and I have no idea how high the possibility of having two babies with different characteristics works, but this alone makes me really happy. This is something Lauren Faust addressed when the fandom was starting. If you remember G1, the ponies used to reproduce by standing in front of a mirror and getting a cloned filly of themselves, so it wasn’t so much reproduction as it was cloning (something that Kkat parodied in Fallout: Equestria). So having a very realistic explanation of how ponies grow in this world is fantastic.

Five O'clock shadow is not only realistic, but it also makes you look badass.
That’s the keyword in this episode: Reality. This is the very first time we are presented with a 100% totally believable situation. Well, not 100%, but it’s still very close to how people will react in this setting. Let me explain myself.

After we get through the theme song, we jump cut to one month later, and we see Pinkie Pie playing with the twins and doing silly stuff. The Cakes are preparing themselves to close the store for the evening, and we see them acting like the good parents they are. And I must address this right here, you may or may not like Mister Cake, but we all must agree that he is The Best Dad we’ve seen in the show. I love how well he takes care of his kids, and I never thought it could be badass to see a pony making his kids burp. He is awesome. I already liked him, but this settled him as one of the coolest ponies in the show. So as they are closing the store, Pinkie Pie reminds them that there is a big shipment they have to deliver, and this forces them to find a babysitter for their babies. After failing to hire any other of the Mane Six, they resort to Pinkie Pie, who is presented with a challenge she would’ve never expected: Face reality.

Yes, for Pinkie Pie this is facing reality.
This show has been a trooper for presenting the characters to several challenges: Facing a dragon, save a friend from a free-fall, pushing a tree out of a house, get a remedy for a magical plant, exterminate an endless swarm of insects…All of these conflicts are great, and they serve really well as metaphors or hyperboles of reality. However, having reality directly is something we have never seen, and this episode does it really well by doing it to the only pony that’s not particularly grounded in it. Pinkie Pie here faces all the difficulties with taking care of two hyperactive babies, no matter how many wings or magic horns they have. Kids are kids, and babies are babies, they are hyperactive no matter how much you change their species.

So what follows is a series of original, yet a bit watered down, situations where Pinkie Pie tries to take control over the kids, failing miserably. She tries to give them a bath, but she fills the bathtub with floating toys, making the kids cry. She tries to feed them, but the food ends up covering the floor instead. She tries to cheer them up, but nothing seems to bring a smile to their faces, not even trying to impersonate Ronnie Dangerfield. There is a running joke where Pinkie pours a sack of flour all over her, which is the only thing that makes the twins smile, but after the second one it gets a bit grating. Right after an epic fail diaper change, Pinkie receives the visit of Twilight. At first she welcomes her friend to pass by and help her, but when Pinkie learns that she is there only because she expected Pinkie to fail at taking care of the babies, Pinkie kicks her out of the house and decides to muscle up and take care of it herself. I loved that! I loved to see Pinkie standing up for her pride and getting ready to show to everypony that she’s more than able to do it. That detail alone made me appreciate her a lot more, as I didn’t see that one coming. Pinkie Pie shows she has the same strength and will power as anyone else in the cast.

She also has the ability to turn into Surprise once every five weeks.
And then, things get…creepy. I know, how can this cartoon get creepy? Well, right after Twilight leaves Pinkie Pie goes to the two babies and puts them to sleep in their cradle, but not even a second after she closes the door, the babies disappear. Pinkie finds the unicorn baby inside a closet, chewing on a rubber chicken, while the pegasus one is still missing. Pinkie steps out into the hallway, the dark hallway, as she keeps turning back to make sure the unicorn foal is still in the cradle. She turns left. She turns right. There’s nothing, but the giggles of a foal are heard all over the house. But it’s not the unicorn. Pinkie’s eyes widen and, slowly, she looks up. And then I threw my hands to my head and screamed: “WHAT THE F*** IS A TRAINSPOTTING REFFERENCE DOING IN MY LITTLE PONY!?” Guys, it’s no secret that I despise Danny Boyle, but even I’ll admit that the baby-crawling-on-the-ceiling scene is pretty creepy and fairly well done. So when I saw that pegasus foal walking on the ceiling all I could say is…well, what you just read! I mean my God, the makers of this show really know how to sneak in references that kids will never get until they are about twenty! And the best part is that it’s obscure enough and classic enough to be a timeless reference. How awesome is that? I can’t wait to be thirty five years old and watch this cartoon again to see how this held up.

Come play with us. Forever. And ever.
So, no surprise, the babies get out of control again as we see that they pretty much are surprisingly powerful. They can throw playgrounds in the air, phase through solid objects (Aperture science may want to have a word with them), and levitate themselves with magic, amongst other things. The amount of chaos they bring in less than five minutes ends up breaking Pinkie Pie, who just starts crying her eyes out. The babies, feeling quite bad, try to cheer her up by (rim shot ready) pouring flour all over them. After that, Pinkie and the babies seem to settle things down. The foals get to sleep in their cradle, and Pinkie goes downstairs to clean up and narrate the moral to all of us. It’s a very similar moral to the one we saw in Stare Master: Taking on more responsibility than you are fit to face is not a good idea, and you should know that taking care of someone is more than just fun and games. When the Cakes arrive home they are gratefully surprised to see everything’s in order, and their babies are safe. Seeing this success, they ask Pinkie to take care of them again. An undecided Pinkie Pie looks over at the babies, as she hears them saying their first words:



It’s a cliché, I know, and it’s very sappy, I know that too, but it is really adorable, and after seeing Pinkie Pie getting her flank kicked up and down the Sugarcube corner it’s quite a satisfying conclusion to this episode.

So that was Baby Cakes. How is it? Well, it’s really good. It’s not my favorite, and it would definitely not make my top ten, but as a character development, and universe-expanding episode it’s really good. The characters stay in character. The rhythm is consistent, it has really memorable moments, and the moral is very strong. There were a few things that didn't make much sense though, but quite a lot of fans have pointed them out already, like "How can the pegasus baby fly when Scootaloo can't?" or "How can the unicorn be so freaking powerful?" Those details didn't bother me, mostly because of the tone the episode was going for: It's a good ol' slapstick routine that lasts for twenty two minutes, more reminiscent of Roger Rabbit than Tom and Jerry. It’s not on my favorites, but it’s one of the best written and planned out episodes of the whole season. If there was any doubt out there about Pinkie Pie’s quality as a character, this episode will serve to clear them up.

And if they don't, Pinkie will cry and cry until they do.
- Defining Moment: The baby pegasus walking on the ceiling. I’M FREAKING OUT MAN!!!

- Moral: Never take on more responsibility than you can handle, and don’t expect that taking care of someone is just fun and games, as it requires hard work.


  1. It was a decent episode, and the reason for that is always Pinkie, I thought I would get crazy without a Pinkie episode, but there it is.
    About the stuff you say James about reality, I usually liked MLP FIM because it was always an hyperbole of reality and i am not a big fan of episodes focused on reality, but I will not lie that I didn't love the way Pinkie struggled to be responsible because I could see myself in her desperation.

    1. I found myself in situations like these more than once ^_^; The babies out of control wrecking everything in their bedrooms, and basically getting loose in the house.

      I wish I could've cried my way out like Pinkie did, but in the end that scene cemented my appreciation for Pound Cake and Pumpkin Cake. They are cute, they are fun, and the are likeable. I should have written that in the review, but there's only so much I can cover before Sunday ends.

  2. Pinkie Pie is normally not my favourite, but I felt sorry for her when she cried. I even got a tear in my eye.

    1. She's not my favorite either, but this season is making me conflicted. They are giving me lots of reasons to love her.