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11 February 2012

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. "Hearts and Hooves Day" REVIEW

Complexity isn’t always good. If done right you can end up with a work of genius like “Inception”; but if done wrong you can end up doing that other movie from the director of Donnie Darko that was basically all news footage. With this I mean, we usually miss the simplicity of this show in this fandom. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is nothing but what you see on the screen. There’s no complex storylines, there’s no hidden agendas, there’s just what you see. Anything else comes from the hyperactive minds of us bronies in an attempt to give this show an edge it doesn’t need. And before I confuse more people who read this, I am addressing to those who got offended over the whole “FlutterMac Shipping” incident. Guys, as far as we know, there is only one official shipping in the show, and that’s Mr. Cake and Mrs. Cake (if we don’t count the parents of Twilight, Pinkie Pie and Rarity, that is, and maybe Fancy Pants and Fleur de Lis). Everything else you throw at us is just mere fanon, the weakest most fragile substance in the planet next to air. But I digress. This is an episode review, not an opinionated article; this isn’t The Escapist after all, so let’s cut to the chase.

Oh look kids! It’s a TL;DR floating in mid air. What do you say Mr. TL; DR? Do you want me to ask you if the episode is good in Friendship is Magic standards? Okay! Is the episode good in Friendship is Magic standards? Oh! Mr. TL;DR says it is! But Mr. TL;DR, is this one of the best episodes of Season 2? Awww, he says no, I wonder why. We better find out, now that Mr. TL;DR has moved all the way down to the end of the article!

So the episode starts in the CMC club house, and I have to admit the geography of Ponyville is constructed like an Escher drawing. Don’t get me wrong, I love the camera movement and how organic the transition feels, but that secluded part of the farm seems to be very in the open for all to see. Not like the CMC plan to make a clandestine casino anytime soon. I mean, as far as we know. We see them working on a Valentine’s-I MEAN, Hearts and Hooves card for their teacher Cheerilee. Yes, apparently in Equestria every festivity we have has an equivalent, the same way Christmas was Hearts Warming Eve, or The Spring Equinox was Winter Wrap Up, here Valentine’s day is Hearts and Hooves. I must say I love to see the CMC working on a card for their teacher. Not many times I see teacher being treated with respect, or even love, in kids cartoons. They usually are the typical angry characters that are there for comic relief. This is something I don’t see in cartoons where Lauren Faust has worked. It makes me really happy, as a future teacher, to see them getting appreciated, and especially Cheerilee. If I didn’t have so many favorite ponies, she’ll be my number one. She’s not perfect, but that makes her even more charming, and having an episode dedicated to her already makes me happy. But I’m getting ahead of myself, like I always seem to do.

We see the CMC giving Cheerilee this huge heart-shaped card, as they learn that she doesn’t have a partner, or like the show says “A very special somepony”. It’s so sweet. The CMC, as outraged as any Cheerilee fan would be, set to find her a partner before the day ends, and in this show’s tradition they do it with a song. Another thing I’m glad of is that this season started very light on the song department (we didn’t get one until episode 7). But now it’s catching up, with a brilliant composition episode after episode, and this one is no exception. Applebloom, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle set up to find a partner for Cheerilee in a very catchy, very straight forward song, completed with a lot of interesting visuals. Despite someone alerting me on Twitter, I didn’t see the “obsessed with tubs of jelly” part coming. Really, go check it out because it’s as hilarious as it is disturbing. I can’t look at that part without thinking “That’s my fetish” anymore. By the end of the song, the CMC determine that it’s Big Macintosh and nopony else who should be Cheerilee’s partner, so they set up a picnic for them, in the hopes to have Cheerilee ask Big Macintosh out. I am not in touch with romance movies or stories, so I really don’t know how often this is, but I don’t usually see the girl asking the boy out. The CMC set it up to be that way, as Big Mac is a very shy, reserved stallion, making Cheerilee a more forward individual. I liked that part a lot, but that’s because I’m all for determined women.

Especially if they have bedroom eyes.
However, the plan doesn’t work out. Defeated, the CMC leave to town only to bump into Twilight Sparkle, and the conversation they have goes more or less like this:

Twilight: “Hey girls, what’s up?”
CMC: “Hey Twilight, you wouldn’t happen to have a book that will help us to make a love potion in this very day that we are definitely not going to use on our teacher and Applebloom’s brother, right?”
Twilight: “Of course I do, here it is.”
CMC: “Can we take it?”
Twilight: “Sure, here you go.”
CMC: “Kay thanks bye!”

To those who will go all crazy blaming poor Twilight for what she just did, I have three words for you: RULE OF FUNNY. And even if you complain, you have to admit it makes a lot of sense to see Twilight walking around town reading a book on the festivity. She is so willing to give them the book because that’s how she is. She’ll never refuse to give a book to someone she trusts. I also spent a good while wondering why we don’t see any other of the Mane Cast appear in the episode. We need Twilight to set up the Love Potion segment that comes next. Besides, we see Twilight in love. With her books of course, who says you can’t enjoy the day of love with your passion? I’m just saying, I just love to see how adorkable Twilight is.

Any excuse is a good excuse to post Twilight.
So the CMC’s make the love potion, which is surprisingly simple for a show about magical creatures. All they need is water, rainbows, a tuft of cloud, and mix it with a pegasus wing. That is too simple and way too risky guys! Rainbows and clouds are all over the place in Equestria, and they are usually controlled by pegasi. Wouldn’t it be possible that anytime it rains, if a pegasus passed by fluttering his or her wings, it will rain love potion over everypony? Regardless of how hilarious the situation would be, it makes me wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to have more complex elements. Like juice from a fruit that only grows on the Everfree Forest. But, and I’m going back to the start of the review, sometimes it’s better to keep it simple. It’s not the potion brewing what’s the focus of the episode but what it brings over the CMC, and what it brings is a pocket sized version of Discord’s chaos. This is what happens when you mess with somebody else’s feelings, a complete mess. Needless to say, the potion works. It works really well. It works way too really well. Cheerilee and Big Mac fall in love so hard they can’t focus on anything else that’s not each other, and they only way to break this enchantment is to keep them from looking into each others eyes (because we all know love is all about the eyes, am I right guys?). Fearing it will drive Ponyville to chaos, the CMC set to break the enchantment and so set Cheerilee and Big Mac for a wedding.

Yes, a wedding. My initial reaction was: “Wow, what a bunch of dumba-Hey wait a second that makes a lot of sense!” Again, simplicity wins here. Keeping them from looking at each other however is not that simple. Sweetie Belle literally traps Cheerilee inside Carousel Boutique, while Applebloom tries to keep her brother away by any means possible, even if it includes tying him to a house, which he starts dragging in an instant. I guess foundations don’t exist in Equestria. So house dragging and all, Big Mac reaches the boutique only to fall in a pit that Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle dug up, but even with that he cries out for Cheerilee, who bursts out of the boutique and bounces into the pit, knocking over the CMC like a set of bowling pins. Thankfully for them, the effect of the potion runs out, and both Big Mac and Cheerilee go back to normal, with probably the cutest expressions I’ve seen in a while. The three fillies deliver the moral, as one must not merge into other’s feelings and try to control them. Cheerilee is not Princess Celestia however (see what I did there?) and so punishes them to do all of Big Mac’s chores in Sweet Apple Acres. We then end the episode with Big Mac and Cheerilee walking towards the sunset. Are they together now? Are they pulling a prank on the CMC? Or is this the makers of the show pulling the legs of all the shippers out there?

Oh my God! Who the hell cares!?
  So that was “Hearts and Hooves Day”, how does it fair up? Well, to tell you the truth I am really surprised with this episode, but not for the reasons one might expect. First of all, let me tell you what I think of the writing. This episode comes from Megan McCarthy, who is going to take the role of Story Editor after Rob Renzetti left the show last year. She has done the scripts for episodes like Dragonshy, Call of the Cutie, Party of One and Lesson Zero. One of her most outstanding trademarks are her endings. I will go all out and say that she makes some of the most awesome endings this series has ever had. They are very well paced, and they pack a lot of punch, leaving a very good feeling afterwards. That’s what surprises me of this ending however. Compared to other endings it’s still awesome, but compared to McCarthy’s previous endings is a bit flat. Of course, it depends on the episode’s tone. There was no giant dragon, no macro spell brain washing Ponyville or no character going through a mental break out. It is her most “slice of life” work to date, and it shows in the ending. I’m not criticizing her work, I’m just saying it’s a very soft way to end a episode. I still like how they played with the Aesop delivery at the end. It seems this season has been all about that, since it’s not only Twilight the one learning something new.

Another thing that I really liked of this episode is the visuals they threw at us. Coming from this team it’s understandable that we get really good looking, fun visuals, but this episode had quite a few moments that made me go “Oh wow, didn’t see that one coming”. The “tubs of jelly” part is definitely one of those, which comes out of nowhere and has no other meaning to be there but to make a rhyme for the song. But we had more things, like that giant heart-shaped greetings card, which is bigger than life itself, or Big Mac pulling from everything he’s tied to driven by the power of love. His expressions in this episode were hilariously cute. Or how about those apocalyptic fantasies Applebloom zones into, with the ponies starving and wearing dumb hats? On a technical standpoint, this episode was great. I saw some people complaining that “Read it and Weep” had some technical problems, mostly with sound mixing, but I doubt they’ll find any of those here. This was an all round very tight episode revolving around those characters not everyone remembers. It’s awesome to see we are having more episodes focused around the supporting cast instead of keep going with the Mane Cast over and over again. When Mr. Thiessen said they were expanding on the universe of the show, he wasn’t lying.

I'm ending on this image because it's adorable.

- Defining Moment:

Cheerilee: Big Mac…

Big Mac: Eeyup?

Cheerilee: You have something stuck in your teeth.

Sweetie Belle: AW, COME ON!!!

- Moral: Don’t mess with other’s feelings, and don’t try to force them to like someone (or something).


  1. There are a lot of morals in this episode like "The only love you find at the bottom of a glass is a sick, non-consensual love."

    When I kept hearing the gender neutral 'somepony', I was kind of hoping they would keep the ambiguity. They only brought up stallions during the song crushing that almost impossible hope. It is not like a child's television show in America would risk saying that homogendered relationships are possible or normal, as in okay. This is especially true do to the significant number of parents worried that gays are trying to convert their children to their gay lifestyle.

    You were right to point out Megan McCarthy's ability to write story endings. I love this episodes ending because of the whole "why do I look like I am getting married in a bottom of a pit?"

    I am glad your episode response graph shows that love covers the whole spectrum of quality, though that was probably not your intent.

    1. I stole that quote from this comic by CSImadmax:

    2. It actually was my intention to do so ^_^; Thank you for catching it.

      Thanks a bunch for your comments too! And for following me ;D

  2. There are several parallels between this and the Valentine episode of Powerpuff Girls. Both involve three little girls trying to hook up their favorite female teacher with a male relative. The major differences are that no potions were needed in PPG, but the horror of the love interfering with daily life became a reality, rather than a possibility like it was in MLP. It was interesting to compare.

    Your review was better this week, as it was less summarizing. One complaint, though, is that in the beginning you said this wasn't one of the best episodes of the season, and while I agree, you never really said why. Was it because of the ending? If so, it would be somewhat hypocritical of you to take off for the ending being simple when at the beginning you praised the show for staying simple. If that wasn't it, please explain further.

    Also, the bottom image is broken for me. :[

  3. I laughed out loud because of Sweetie Belle. "Ah come on!"