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15 January 2014

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Pinkie Apple Pie"

This show has always offered two types of episodes for me. There are the episodes where all is fun and enjoyment and there is a lot of cool action scenes and funny parts; and then there are the episodes where the emotional investment is such you’d think Pixar had a hand in the writing of the script. Sometimes these two types combine which result in some of my favorite episodes (like Sonic Rainboom, Cutie Mark Chronicles, Sleepless in Ponyville, Sweet and Elite, Rarity Takes Manehattan) and other times these elements are absent which leads to some of my most hated episodes (Putting your Hoof Down). I find myself emotionally invested in many of the characters this show has, and this is a constant that has never changed for me. You know a character is well written when you can talk about them like you've known them your whole life. Let’s look, for example, at Rainbow Dash. One quick glance at her and you’ll think she is just a brass and sporty tomboy that’s just full of herself. But then you see her interact with the other characters and you will find more about her. She’s also insecure; she’s fairly clumsy and sometimes screws up; she likes reading adventure books and Broadway musicals; she’s best friends with Twilight and Pinkie; she wants to become a Wonderbolt; she’s a great flier and a really athletic sports-pony; she has a pet tortoise named Tank; and she can squee like a fangirl over everything because she is really passionate about the things that she likes. The same goes for every other character in the show, like Applebloom, Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, and so on. Everyone in this show has something going on all the time.

My Little Pony is not a show that I watch for the story, or even for the moral. Like any other character driven show that I watch, I watch it for characters, because I want to see them interact with each other and because I want to see them coming out of the situation they have been thrown into. You know that two characters will have two completely different ways to solve a conflict, and that’s where the entertainment value for this show is. So when I heard that there was going to be an episode pairing Applejack and Pinkie Pie I had nothing but hype towards it. This might be my most hyped episode of the entire season so far. It wasn’t the Super Hero episode. It wasn’t the next Rarity episode. This was the one, because I knew it was going to be full of feels and heartwarming moments. Were my expectations met? Let’s take a look.

I am going to say it right away and without going in circles. Is this episode good? Yes. Did it met my expectations? Not really. And if you want to find out, by all means, keep on reading.

So the episode starts when Pinkie Pie visits Twilight, who happens to be doing some research study in genealogy and family history. Pinkie Pie catches an interest in this and in the most enthusiastic Pinkie way she makes a staggering discovery. She finds out that she’s related to none other than the Apple Family, and so she goes to the farm to greet her new found relatives. The Apples welcome her like one of their own, though they have their doubts as the scroll where Pinkie Pie found this information doesn’t really clarify whether she is related to them or not, so to find out a more definite answer they decide to make a road trip to visit Auntie Goldie Delicious, who has an entire record of the Apple Family History. In their way, with a cart fully loaded of stuff that Big Macintosh considered necessary, they start singing a song about how awesome it is to be an Apple, and they get so enthusiastic they end up trashing the cart.

Big Mac is used to this kind of result from hanging around with a lot of mares.
Without wheels to use they convert the remains of the cart into a raft and so they continue their trip down the river. Pinkie Pie is gleefully oblivious to all this as she’s too busy doing a photo album with all the memories that took place during the trip, while Applejack has her worries about causing a good impression on her new cousin. This proves to be really difficult for her, as they lose the map, go through the scariest cave in Equestria, and because the Apple Family doesn’t stop arguing they end up going down a waterfall.

And then they all died!
Thankfully they don’t get injured, though they do lose their raft, so when they finally arrive to Goldie Delicious house what’s left of the thing is nothing but a pair of wooden planks. As Pinkie Pie darts away to get more paper (maybe she has the power to process wood into cellulose) Applejack tells her family how awful it is that Pinkie had to see them at their lowest, but right there and then Pinkie comes back to tell them that the only thing they proved to her is how great of a family they are, because even through the worst of times they stood together in unity. This highlight concludes with the arrival of Goldie Delicious, who proves to be a crazy cat lady in the possession of the most disorganized collection of Apple Family memorabilia. She pulls out a book and, like with the scroll, it doesn’t really prove if Pinkie is an Apple or not. Despite this disappointment, Pinkie and the Apple Family return to Ponyville, happy to know that sometimes the best of friends can be so close to you that they feel like family, and that the best families are those that stay together through the rough times…even if they enjoy arguing a bit too much.

Alternate Joke: Social Justice Bloggers in action.
So that was “Pinkie Apple Pie”, and I think the best way to describe my feelings towards this episode is the word conflict. I am fairly confronted with myself about this episode. There are things that I liked and things that I didn’t like, and in the same way as “Flight to the Finish” the good things end up trampling over the bad ones so you could consider my opinion to be a positive one. I want to end the review in that note so I think I should tackle the things that I didn’t like first.

"Who's this Nietzsche and why do we have to be linked to him?"
I think this episode should have had a bit more conclusive ending. I like cliffhangers and foreshadowing, and all the little nods we've had this season have been really enjoyable (the pony of shadows, the pool of thread, Fluttershy’s fang, the vanishing comic) but this is the type of episode that could have used a bit more conclusive ending. Leaving the answer to Pinkie’s question in the air is an unfair way to emotionally blackmail the viewer. It’s an effective way, mind you, with good use of narrative resources and mannerisms, but it’s still taking the emotions and holding them hostage until they decide to either resolve them or drop them later on in the season. I am happy of the road we followed to this conclusion though, because it was great, but the conclusion felt like a punch in the stomach.

All is happy and good, until we shatter your feelings with a hammer.
The other thing that I didn’t really like was the lack of interaction between Pinkie Pie and the Apple Family. One might argue that this is bullshit, because they spent the entire episode together, but when you think about it the only interaction they had was to either question each other or to compliment each other. It could have been good to have a few more dialogue lines, perhaps drag Pinkie into the conflict, but then we should have had to cut down a few other moments that I considered genius, so this is not something that could have been properly solved. This makes the potential for interaction and chemistry to go slightly wasted. Even in the scene where Pinkie is getting advice from Big Mac, we only see the aftermath of their conversation and only to deliver another Big Mac “Eeyup” joke.

Say "Eeyup" again. Say "Eeyup" again. I dare you! I double dare you motherfucker! Say "Eeyup" one more goddamn time!
Also, the comedy wasn’t really all that there. Don’t get me wrong, there were some genuinely funny moments there and they were really effective, but there was a lot more comedy that should have worked a lot better and it really didn’t. The aforementioned “Eeyup” running joke was funny at first, and it had a somewhat funny conclusion at the end of the episode, but halfway through it started getting annoying. Also I think the way I perceive Goldie Delicious is the total opposite of what they were going for in the show. I know we are supposed to see a cooky old lady who lives in a house full of cats, but all I can see is a crazy cat lady who is surrounded by junk, piles of old books, food that is weeks old, and who’s kitties have even turned to dust! She is not a cooky old lady, she is the scariest old lady I have seen in this cartoon!

Oh, these cats? They are not my pets; they are my breakfast.
These may seem petty complains, and I will agree that maybe one or two are so, but I have a big issue with the emotions and the pacing this episode had. If you've noticed by my sum up, the second act of the episode is really short when you put it down on paper, and that’s because it relies a lot on slapstick, and the characters aren't really doing anything too interesting but going down a river. Pacing wise, this episode is a big mess. That and feeling my emotions are pending to a conclusion that might never arrive, make me have severe issues with this episode.

Never has this show presented my emotions so well in a scene.
But, do you remember how I said this episode also had good things in them? Let’s talk about them to balance out the bad.

It's so beautiful and good.
Honestly I am surprised that the show runners managed to get so much character within one episode, especially with five characters with really strong personalities and traits. It’s difficult to give each character the correct amount of spotlight and not making it look like one is getting more attention than the other. There are very good Pinkie Pie moments, very good Applejack moments, very good Big Mac moments, very good Applebloom moments and very good Granny Smith moments. They don’t trample over each other, and they all have the same amount of screen time.

Agh, Pinkie! Not again!
The other thing that I loved of this episode was Pinkie Pie. I've seen some people complain that she is not super hyper and over the top, and that her performance feels watered down and shallow. I would like to smack those people in the face with a rubber chicken. This episode is probably the most normal and settled down, yet still random and funny Pinkie Pie portrayal we have ever had. I mean, yeah, sure, she doesn’t jump all over the place or breaks the fourth wall, but she is normal (within her boundaries). She pops from behind books, she can hold a camera with her tail, she hides giant books in her hair, and doesn’t even get phased when entering into a terrifying cave. She is still Pinkie Pie but in a closer more relatable level. I feel an emotional attachment with Pinkie. I am emotionally invested in her as a character because I think she represents everything that’s good about this show. She’s happy and cheerful, and she’s always there to make everybody have a good time with one of her parties, but she’s also fragile and dependent of her friends who are the ones that keep her energy going. That’s what I saw in this episode, and I wouldn't change this Pinkie for any other.

The other thing that I saw some people complain is the animation, and to be honest I’ll be lying if I said I don’t agree with them, well kind of. There are some points where the animation is a bit too stiff, a bit too Season 1. But they are immensely trampled by incredible moments like the “Apples to the Core” song. It doesn’t matter how many times I watch that part, the animation in the characters is just outstanding (well, except maybe for Pinkie Pie, who just bounces on top of the cart). The choreography that Applejack, Applebloom and Big Macintosh have at the front of the cart is unbelievable, so fluid and it gets me right in the mood to dance. Some might complain about the cart moving at the rhythm of the song, but I say that only adds movement to the scene and gets you in the right mood. What better way to mark the rhythm than with a giant metronome shaped like a horse-drawn cart?

Seriously, guys, how dare you? This is amazing.
By the way, the song is great too. I’d like leaving it there, but it’s a wonderful song. It’s simple yet catchy and very straight forward, just like the Apple family. Every song these guys are involved in always becomes an instant hit for me, like the “Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000”, “Babs Seed”, “Raise this Barn” and now this one. These are really good songs, and they serve their purpose great. The point of this one is to establish something we already know, though, that the Apple family is a loyal loving family that supports each other, and even though there are mistakes to be done and bad things to come, they are all apples and they stick together. This cleverly foreshadows the theme of the episode, like how the Apple family sticks together even though the trip happens to be an absolute disaster, and it shows Pinkie Pie how great of a family she just stepped into. It was giving me heartwarming feels before, it gives me heartwarming feelings now, it’s just absolutely gorgeous, upbeat and catchy as hell.

Applejack, please stop being the best at faces.
I already mentioned the comedy wasn’t all that there, but I also said there were a couple of very good jokes. The eagle sweeping by and catching stuff from the river was outrageously funny. The first time I saw it I laughed, but when it sweeps by and catches the duck carrying the wheel I just lost it. It’s the kind of fast paced comedy that makes me laugh because of how unexpected it is. It’s really well timed and very well executed. Also, the scariest cave in Equestria gag was really good too. I was worried at first in how they were going to pull it off, but they did a really funny job showing the outside of the cave and just have you hearing their reaction. And when they come out all traumatized and Pinkie all happy, that was a great visual punch line. So yeah, some of the comedy might not work, but the comedy that works does it so great.

Animal cruelty has been funny since Elmer Fudd blasted Duffy's face with a shotgun.
Also, the moral was pretty neat too. I have noticed how each episode has been giving not one but two morals in each episode and the ones in this one are really neat. Being together with your family despite all your flaws, and consider yourself part of someone else’s family because of how good friends you are with them. I will talk about the first one in the next paragraph, but let me talk to you about the second one here. I had a friend named Cari, who was an old lady and lived in front of our house. She was best friends with my mother, which instantly made me best friends with her. She was a riot, a total laugh and loved to watch football and telling fart jokes. The last time I saw her was in her birthday, and she was so old and weak she could barely stand up, but she did anyway to thank us all…and then tell a fart joke. I had no blood connection with her, no nothing. She wasn’t my grandma, yet she was the grandma I’d always wanted to have. She passed away in 2006, shortly after we moved to our new house. This kind of thing happens, the whole feeling that you are part of a family or that your friend is part of your family, because of how much you love them. In my opinion, this episode captured that feeling really well.

Awkward picture taking included.
But, if there is one thing that makes this episode stand out for me, that is the Apple Family. You can take everything else that I liked out of this episode, leave only the bad, and I’ll still enjoy this a lot more than many other episodes of the show. The way these guys are portrayed is just beyond belief. Keep in mind, the Apple Family has always had episodes where they are either working or in the middle of a conflict. It’s not like we ever had the chance to see them being themselves and interacting with each other in an organic manner, and I more than once wondered how Applejack will be to her big brother Big Mac, or how Granny Smith would be to Applebloom, and they way they acted and interacted with each other is so real that it hurts. I saw my own family more than once in those arguments, and I had to roll my eyes more than once when I saw poor Big Mac being questioned of his decisions, as I thought to myself…

I understand your pain so well, Big Mac 
Applejack was fantastic in that she was worried on causing a good impression on Pinkie Pie, but how her worries lead her to take bad decisions. We have seen AJ suffer from being too honest, too stubborn, too proud, or too unlucky, but never insecure. She doesn’t want to screw up, and that’s what causes her to screw up. Granny Smith is too proud in this one, but her pride comes from thinking she knows everything about everything, and who’ll blame her? She’s centuries old, for all we know she does know about everything! Applebloom was just great. His childlike wonderment and curiosity gets the best out of her, but she is so likable and fun when doing so. Her screw-ups are as adorable as she is. And poor Big Mac, well, he gets the short end of the stick because he’s way too nice. You see, this is a group of characters that, individually, it works fine and they are compelling at best, but when you put them together they are just perfect. Applejack has the dedication, Granny Smith the experience, Big Mac the strength and Applebloom the naivete. When combined together they form a fully flexed character, and that’s why their family dynamic works so well. The Apple Family is the Voltron of Friendship is Magic characters. Individually they work fine, but when combined they are unstoppable.

Why did we switch off the safe search?
This is why the second moral of the episode works so well. It does show the Apple family going through some hard times, arguing, disagreeing with each other, and getting in trouble more than once. But despite all this, they stay together to the end. They leave their disagreements aside and own up for their mistakes, and nobody else but themselves convinces them to do so. They can be proud and stubborn, but they are also humble enough to admit when they have screwed up.

Okay, who's paying the workshop's bill?
So, in conclusion, it’s an okay episode. It has a couple of deal breakers, but the good stuff is so good and so well done and it has so much passion and love put into that I can’t give this episode a negative note. It’s enjoyable, its heart is in its right place, and it keeps the character in character and well within the boundaries this show has created for them. All of this coming from a new writer, Natasha Levinger, who I hope keeps on writing episodes for this show. Believe when I say that, for a new writer, we could have done so much worse. She did a great job and we should be happy for it. I know I am.

Well, not so happy, but very happy.
I’m going to celebrate by watching the episode again. Maybe this time I’ll see what hides behind the bushes.

I have the feeling we are all going to be dead in 7 days.

- Defining Moment: Anything involving the Apple Family.

- Moral: It doesn’t matter how many hardships you and your family go through, as long as you stay together you can face anything; and it doesn’t matter if you are not part of the family, if you are a good friend you might as well be considered part of it.


  1. I disagree with you about the conclusion. I loved how they heavily implied that Pinkie was part of the Apple family, but didn't explicitly say so (note all the hints that Pinkie is related to Goldie—the similar name, how they both pull scrolls/books from the bottom of a pile, eating sweets for lunch, their obsessiveness with remembering and cataloging the lives of everyone they know, etc.) It provides conclusion for those who want it but leaves it open ended for those who don't.

    1. I agree with you, leaving it ambiguos was the best decision, just like Applejack´s parents, it satisfies both sides of the argument.

  2. -I think that the ending to this episode was pretty much a given; this story isn't so much about the destination, but more about the journey.
    -While it's a role that suits her well, the writers of the show often forget that Pinkie Pie is more than just a machine for non-sequiturs and visual gags. Behind her offbeat nature, there's a real conscience and awareness of her surroundings and other ponies. This episode is the first time since Putting Your Hoof Down where Pinkie has the high ground, and gets to help someone else learn the episode's intended moral. It's very satisfying.
    -I also think that there's two types of episodes on the show: for the sake of brevity, I'll call them the "journey" episode and the "destination" episodes. "Destination" episodes are ones where the story regards the characters going from Point A to Point B, whether it's an actual location or just the episode's moral. These episodes have a stronger sense of a story being unraveled, where the stakes are high and characters are seriously challenged; you can feel some kind of progress in a character being achieved, or a character reaching a certain landmark (Rarity Takes Manehattan, Hurricane Fluttershy, Sleepless in Ponyville, etc.). The "journey" episodes are usually more breezy and the stakes are much lower; they feel more like a set-up for the characters to be funny or just themselves in this scenario (Read It an Weep, It's About Time, Castle Mane-ia). This episode definitely lands on the latter category. That being said, while the bulk of the episode is watching the Apple Family step over one another and Pinkie being at her Pinkiest so far this season, the moral at the heart of the episode really helps elevate it. I don't think this makes for some of the show's best episodes, but it still makes for an entertaining episode.

  3. I just had an epiphany: when Pinkie went to get more paper for her book, she found Slenderpony's notes. She was the first to get them all. Now, he's hiding in the background, waiting for the chance to strike.

  4. You're the first person I've seen complain about this episode. Haha, to be fair I loved it. The way they implied Pinkie was related at the end was fantastic. The way Goldie says "Hello yourself" in the style that Pinkie says it to Twi at the start... and the way Goldie pulls the book out from the bottom of the stack like Pinkie does the scroll at the start... and the gingerbread house she had for lunch.... man that's subtlety! I love it.

  5. Well, I must admit, I FCKING LOVE THIS EPISODE!
    This is the Pinkie, we know. She was perfect! Also, it is one of the best Apple-family-episodes.
    I always enjoy when fun and emotional investment combine (for example, "Cutie Mark Chronicles" is one of my favourites too).

    5/5, there's nothing else to say.
    /Died in cutabetes, RIP/

  6. At last the review is up.

    I waited all summer for this episode.

    And that was worth it.