Super Recaps: My Little Pony season 6 (The Gift of the Maud Pie)

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.

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“What about ME!?  I’m the quirky one who breaks the fourth wall!  I SHOULD BE THE FAVORITE!!”     “Just because it worked for Deadpool-”     “Oh THIS again!!”

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!!

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“You’ve gotta help me Rarity!  They’re gonna break my thumbs!!”     “You don’t HAVE thumbs!”

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!?

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“I have the grace of an unladen swallow and the raw charisma of Aubrey Plaza…”

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.

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“She totally can’t see you now!  RUN!!”

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.

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“Closed on the Sabbath!?  DAMN YOU OZZY!!”     “Can I help you ma’am?”     “Not unless you can shoot this door down!”

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.

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“Would Boulder like a shiny friend?”     “He says their too bougie.”     “Seriously?”     “Yeah.  He doesn’t want to lose touch with his roots.”

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!!

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“Give up Mr. Boom-Face!?  But how else will express my feelings through explosions!?”

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.

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“WHAT DID YOU DO TO MR. BOOM-FACE!?”

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.

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“Pinkie Pie sold her canon for the bag.  WHOOPS!  Oh no!!  Did I say THAT!?”

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.

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“They’ll never find the body…”

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!

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“Why are the windows boarded up?”     “There was a drive by here two months ago.  You wouldn’t BELIEVE how great a deal I got!”

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!!

3 thoughts on “Super Recaps: My Little Pony season 6 (The Gift of the Maud Pie)

  1. I’m really liking where season 6 is going. Like the premiere, I enjoyed this a lot as a character-driven slice-of-life episode, which is exactly what I think the show needs to be. I found this one funny and touching in equal measure, and I really loved how the characters cared about one another. While the show trading stakes for plot and character progression might get a little tiring eventually, for now it feels incredibly new and fresh and gives way to really strong character work and pretty solid lessons.

    Maud, in particular, was the best she’s ever been here, and I really hope this season continues to flesh out the existing supporting cast so well. Now that the writers aren’t intentionally trying to obscure her emotions, it’s easier to see through her mannerisms to understand what she’s actually meaning to express. It works a lot more for me than in her debut episode. Also, she really does care about Pinkie Pie! D’aww.

    I enjoy that Rarity’s career is being furthered, as well as the further exploration of Pinkie’s relationship with her family. Growing up on a farm, I presume that she came to strongly value family, and so she started this tradition to keep in touch with her family even after she moved away. Her future was not on that farm, but her family is, and she cares about that.

    I also really liked how the party cannon was finally given meaning in the series beyond as a visual gag. When we’re told that she feels strongly about the cannon, we believe it, because we’ve seen her use it repeatedly throughout the series. I think her decision to trade it really worked here, because she was so worked up to find the perfect gift to show Maud how much she loves her that it clouded her judgement.

    I like how I can derive so much depth from these latest episodes. Much of the past two seasons wasn’t particularly inspiring to me, so I really enjoy that the show has decided to forget about the big statements that season 5 repeatedly struggled with and start focusing on all of the little things, like character nuance and subtle worldbuilding.

    Although there was no supposed plot arc set up in the premiere like in seasons 4 and 5, to me that doesn’t mean a whole lot, because neither the keys nor the map really mattered in the long run. I’d like this show to possess a real season-long story arc, like in Steven Universe, but I don’t see that happening, and I think its current plan of simply building off of the altered status quo from the past couple of seasons provides much more direction than any of the past two seasons did, if not more than any season since the first.

    I’m really happy with the show right now, and that’s exciting to be able to say again.

    Like

  2. Short Version: D’AAAAAAAAAAAAWWWW

    Long Version:

    -I have this idea that a season of Friendship is Magic doesn’t really start until the third/fourth episode, after the premiere. This way, we get to see the show settle into a much more familiar groove, generally the kind of slice-of-life approach that’s the show’s bread and butter. Over Seasons 4 and 5, the episode after the premiere has been about tying some kind of loose end (giving closure to the loss of Golden Oak Library in Castle Sweet Castle) or setting up a plot device for the rest of the season (the journal entries from S4 in Castle Maneia). I’ve also noticed that these two episodes have been written by newcoming writers and have generally not been very good. With that in mind, going into this week’s episode, I was having mixed feelings. On the one hand, we haven’t had a Pinkie Pie / Rarity centered episode before (unless you happen to count Putting Your Hoof Down), and I believe there’s a lot of potential for something fun in there. On the other hand, it’s written by new writers (which I generally expect to become better in future seasons). Thankfully, I came out of the episode largely pleased with what I got.

    -Some of the more understated tendencies about Pinkie’s personality are putting others before herself in her mind, often to an intense degree (like the time she forgot her own birthday because she wanted to throw Gummy a party) and often going to extremes to solve a problem. This hasn’t been brought up in a while (possibly since Pinkie Pride), and I’m glad it’s being given attention again. Pinkie’s happiness has always been rooted in her love for others and making them happy, and will even sacrifice something she wants for it (again, like in Pinkie Pride). I consider this a reason to why Pinkie works as a character. While she’ll always be general comic relief for the series, once it’s time for her to take the spotlight, she’s given a chance to (for the most part) show off just how big her heart is. She’s not the sharpest or most rational of ponies, and can often get in over her head, but she does it because wants what’s best for the ones she cares about (it’s likely she would’ve driven herself crazy if she felt her quest for Maud’s gift would impair Rarity’s goal of finding a venue for a new boutique). The shift in Andrea Libman’s performance halfway through is very effective at showing Pinkie’s strength, how she’s trying to power through her own sadness for the sake of Maud. (I got sad watching her play with the can of confetti).

    -While Rarity gets to take on the more thankless role of the story (a foil for the Pie’s mannerisms), she settles in herself nicely. Like I said before, she’s never gotten too many chances to play off Pinkie as a main component of a story (it’s usually someone like Applejack or Spike), so I was happy to see the interplay between her two costars. While there’s no doubt that they’re all good friends, it’s a rare opportunity to see them like this, and it manages to be as sweet as it could be. It’s obvious that there’s aspects of the Pie sisters that Rarity can find off-putting, but never seems to regard them as a nuisance, although there are exceptions (it’s hard to shop for Maud, apparently). In fact, she definitely accepts them as they are (Rarity’s spot-on impression of Pinkie, complete with sound effects and physical performance, was a personal highlight). Also, I think some special mention should be made about how the character who’s generosity is one of her defining traits doesn’t get to be a crutch for a story about giving things out of love and not for materialistic purposes.

    -Of all the supporting characters to become as big as they did, Maud is probably the most surprising, given that she’s not a typically marketing-friendly character, usually the kind that most older viewers might find funny and/or interesting. Personally, what makes her work the best is how she can play off with just about any character in the show and something funny might occur. There’s also the catch of how despite her less-than-approachable exterior, she has proven, as she does in this episode, that she’s very caring and friendly. Much like Pinkie, she would go to great lengths for her sister, whether it’s to save her life or make her happy. While she has spent most of her appearances since her debut as either a surprise cameo or small-time comic relief, I’m definitely happy that the show remembers that there’s still a character in there. Also, I like the reveal that Pinkie isn’t the only one with a “sense” or who can embrace a cartoony-ness in her mannerisms within her family.

    -I feel like a lot of people will detract the resolution to the episode as a case of having one’s cake and eating it (a phrase I’ve never really had a problem with and believe it’s only a problem when applied to greedy intentions), but I think that would be missing the point. Maud sacrificed her gift to show Pinkie a lesson about what the real importance of giving gifts should be. besides, by the end of the episode, they’re both basically where they started at and they still got to show to each other just how much they care.

    -While it’s nothing new as a whole, the episode presents itself in a different way that managed to still be engaging, which was enough to win me over on top of the fact that it stars three of my favorite characters and shows off things I like about them. It’s certainly one of the better efforts by new writers in recent memory, and it did exceed my expectations for a follow-up to a season premiere, so I’d say that’s a victory.

    -Pinkie mentioned she did similar gift swapping trips with her other sisters. I would love to see that. I think one with Limestone would the the more entertaining one. I like like to think that Limestone may get annoyed about being away from the farm for too long, so Pinkie wants to pick a location that reminds her of it.

    Like

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