My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Hasbro.
Episode directed by Denny Lu and Tim Stuby
Season six started on a rather low key note with last week’s premiere not having much in regards to stakes or world building outside of the introduction of Flurry Heart. Still, while season five may have started SPECTACULARLY strong, it was right after the premiere that things started to go downhill with Castle Sweet Castle being a mindless slog to get through. Can this episode manage to keep the quality consistent with what we saw before, or is this season destined to have the same nose dive that season five found itself in when it refused to build off of what had been set up? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with Rarity and Pinkie Pie on a train headed for Manehattan with the one looking to open a third boutique location (the best idea for any small business owner is apparently to overextend themselves) and the other on her way to visit Maud Pie; one of the more recent challengers for title of Best Pony.
Specifically, Pinkie Pie has this tradition where she goes on at least one day trip a year with each of her three sisters. News to us I guess, but then again it’s news to Rarity as well so maybe this is the ONE thing Pinkie Pie has managed not to scream from the rooftops about. This is known as a Pie Sister Surprise Swap Day or P SSD which is either two vowels short of a swear word or one letter swap from a mental disorder. Either way, I smell shenanigans!!
Sure enough, Pinkie Pie needs Rarity’s help purchasing a gift for Maud which you’d think is something she would have taken care of by now, but I guess the ability to bend reality to her will can only extend so far. She wants to get Maud a rock pouch (what exactly distinguishes that from any other pouch?) so she needs Rarity’s help coming up with a plan for her to sneakily purchase the gift without Maud noticing. Using her powerful intellect and experience with savvy manipulation, Rarity devises a plot that boils down to rerouting their trip towards the pouch shop. GENIUS!! At the very least, this plan gives us an excuse to go sight-seeing through ponified versions of New York landmarks. There’s the Statue of… Pony-berty? Okay. Oh! And don’t forget The Rink at the Rockefeller Center! Or I guess… the Rink at the Blueblood Center? WILL SOMEONE NAME THESE LOCATIONS!?
Sadly enough, these delightful excursions to recognizable landmarks have to be pushed off to the side as the three of them end up at a restaurant that is conveniently close to the rock pouch store. It’s a shame considering how much mileage they could’ve gotten out of the gimmick (just look at The City of New York vs Homer Simpson), but I guess we have to have conflict somewhere. Rarity and Pinkie Pie by the way manage to extradite the latter with a brilliant diversion from the former.
While Rarity finds out the gripping tale of how Maud and Boulder met (WHY CAN’T WE HEAR THAT STORY!?), Pinkie runs off to the pouch store to buy the bestest PSSD gift since… well the LAST one I guess. What she finds when she gets to the store though is not the welcoming smile of a merchant ready to sell their wares, but a notice on the door saying the store will be closed for the next couple of days. Gee. If only Pinkie Pie had thought to get a gift any earlier than the day she needed it. Oh well, I guess there’s nothing left to do but to go back and explain the situation; realizing that the gift isn’t what matters, it’s the time they spent together. Oh wait. Never mind. She’s just gonna pound on the glass until the police tell her to stop.
She manages to avoid getting arrested, but she still has nothing to show for her brief escapade upon her return to the restaurant. Plan B (after drowning her woes in a mountain of ice cream) is to try and come up with another gift idea while they peruse the streets of Manehattan, with Rarity on hand to provide back up and alternate suggestions. I also get the feeling that, despite not explicitly STATING this, they had let Maud know about the situation considering how they aren’t hiding the fact that they are looking for something she would like. Then again, the surprise was the whole point of the ruse, so maybe they’re just bad at keeping secrets. Either way, they don’t have much luck finding a perfect gift considering Maud’s fickle taste.
Nothing seems to be catching Maud’s eye which is giving Pinkie Pie panic attacks as the time for them to swap gifts gets ever closer. Then Rarity does something VERY dumb when she notices that a pony walking not too far from them has the same kind of rock pouch that Pinkie has been looking for. She tells Pinkie to walk up to this stranger and see if he’s willing to part with his pouch. Doesn’t seem like the smartest of plans, especially when the pony in question looks like either a failed pimp or an alcoholic used car sales-pony. The guy DOES agree to give her the bag, but only if she’ll give him her party canon! WHAT A GREAT IDEA THIS WAS!!
So if it isn’t clear yet (and if the title didn’t tip you off), this is gonna be a take on Gift of the Magi where one character gives up something they love to get someone else a gift and then finds out the other did the same thing; leaving them each with presents they can’t use because they gave up the item that it was intended to accent (I believe in the original O Henry story, it was hair clips for a woman who sold her hair to get a pocket watch chain for her husband who sold the watch to get the clips). The idea here being that the characters both learn a lesson about love being a sacrifice and how gifts are merely an expression of that love and blah blah blah. Honestly? That story never resonated with me, and I feel we’ll run into the same problem here. Whenever we see a take on that story isn’t never about an ACTUAL sacrifice. It’s a story where two characters didn’t communicate very well and ended up with crap they couldn’t use. Sure, it’s the thought that counts and it ultimately doesn’t matter because they love each other, but there are ways they could have gotten that across WITHOUT doing something stupid in the process. Here it’s honestly even worse considering that she’s going to give up her party cannon over a frankly insignificant gesture. She doesn’t need to buy Maud a present to prove her love for her, and I’m sure Maud wouldn’t be happy to find out that she gave up something she loved for a damn bag. I guess we’ll find out soon enough once the swap happens, but it’s clear right away to Rarity that something is wrong once Pinkie returns.
Pinkie Pie informs her of the recent transaction which Rarity finds to be a horrifying turn of events, but she keeps her mouth shut for the rest of the day and we finally get to the gift swap. Maud get the rock pouch (she’s just as excited about it as you’d expect her to be) and Pinkie Pie gets confetti for her party cannon, though I get the feeling that Maud didn’t have to sacrifice anything other than an hour or two of her time and a couple of bits to get it. That’s not to downplay the thoughtfulness of Maud’s gift (it’s cupcake scented!), rather it’s to point out the how thoughtlessly Pinkie Pie was willing to martyr herself. I’m guessing that Rarity feels the same way which would explain not five minutes afterwards that she “accidentally” (I’m hoping those quotes are appropriate) spills the beans to Maud about how Pinkie got that pouch.
Being the most sensible one, Maud knows exactly what must be done! She drags the two of them to where the sleazy pony hangs out in order to get Pinkie her canon back. Apparently she has a Maud Sense that she used to find him which is a very convenient power for the writers. Anyway, she begins demanding a trade back despite the sleazy pony saying no-givsies-backsies. He eventually changes his tune though because Maud is NOT a pony you wish to fuck with.
And so the day is saved! Pinkie Pie has her canon back, Maud gives her a lecture about gift giving not being a game of one-ups man ship (I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG!), and Rarity seems to have found a place to set up her third location. Oh yeah! That was a subplot here, wasn’t it? Even as a world saving entrepreneur with a thriving business and connections to the royal families, how the hell is she gonna afford ANY place in Manehattan!? Oh well, at least we can end on high note with Pinkie Pie having worked out her insecurities, Rarity getting a new place, and everyone learning to be better friends from this adventure!
This was a fine episode of the show that didn’t really go where I wanted it to but it can hardly be faulted for the direction it did go in. Sometimes I might be a bit too hard on this series considering that it’s still aimed at young girls, which means the characters go through simple morality plays which could have easily been resolved with a bit of self-awareness and maturity. That can be a bit frustrating to sit through, especially when their pulling directly from other stories like this one is, but it’s a pretty fair concession to make sure the target audience still gets something worthwhile out of the show. I liked the New Your sight-seeing parts the most and even liked the shenanigans surrounding Rarity and Pinkie Pie trying to find a gift which COULD have been a whole episode without the bringing things down at the end, but what we have here is pretty solid. Honestly, I’d like to see more PSSD episodes with the other sisters who haven’t had nearly as much screen time as Maud has had which might make for an even better episode than the one we got here. Maud is a great character who does a lot with what she’s given to do here, but we don’t really learn anything new about here where an episode with Marble or Limestone could get us a better idea of the characters when they aren’t on the farm. That’s just wishful thinking for the future though. This episode is a solid entry into the non-event episodes and is definitely MUCH better than the season 5 follow up to the premiere. I’m still not sure where the season is heading considering there hasn’t been a MacGuffin set up yet like the keys or map from the prior seasons, but this gives me hope that they’re not going to get complacent like they were last season. Fingers crossed that they know what they’re doing this time!!