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
We’re back with another episode of All in The Pie Family; a show that ALSO had a breakout star named Maud! Okay, it was spelled Maude, but close enough!! Maud Pie is one of the most popular characters of the series since her debut in season four to the point that she’s one of the very few secondary characters to have multiple episodes focused on them. Seriously, does anyone even remember the last time Zecora got a speaking role? Not even The Cakes get more than one chance in the spotlight!? PINKIE PIE LIVES WITH THEM FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!! No… have to focus. Lack of Mr. and Mrs. Cake aside… Maud has had a very strong record so far as her episodes tend to stand out quite a bit, and with the solid track record this season has so far with supporting characters, it seems likely that that trend will continue. Do they manage to pull off another great episode with everyone’s favorite April Ludgate impersonator, or are we reaching the point of oversaturation one of the show’s more interesting characters? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with Maud Pie getting her Rock-torate in Rock Studies (because Geology isn’t a funny enough word) and the whole Pie family is there for the graduation ceremony… which only includes her. Hey, at least she’s not trying to get a job in an oversaturated market, which I assume is the case with Magic Studies graduates. I mean, if the choices are CONTROLLING THE UNIMAGINABLE POWER AROUND YOU or looking at dirt all day, I’m pretty sure we’d ALL go for the one that lets us shoot fire balls.
Sadly we don’t get to see the graduation party with the Pie family (presumably everypony would just sit in a room and quietly reflect on the day’s events) and instead cut right to Pinkie and Maud on a train to Ponyville with the latter possibly moving there to study the town’s geological makeup and the former losing her mind over the possibility of her OBVIOUSLY best sister being within walking distance of her. Now just in case you missed it, there was big fat PROBABLY in the last sentence which means that Maud hasn’t decided if this is where she’ll end up as she’s currently trying to decide between Ponyville and a place called Ghastly Gorge. Who named it that by the way? I can’t imagine an actual TOWN would be there, lest they’d insist on a name change, so does that mean she’d just be living in a tent miles away from the nearest emergency contact? Either way, Maud’s decision will be rock based so Pinkie has to convince her Ponyville has the better rocks between the two on top of having better amenities. Oh hey! This also gives us a reason to check in on Rarity who’s barely been in the season so far! That’s nice!
Sadly though, Ponyville’s seemingly endless supply of gem caves is not all that impressive to the rock expert (apparently these are all rather common crystals) which only puts Pinkie Pie even more on edge. In fact, let’s go ahead and talk about the pink elephant in the room. The episode has been rather entertaining so far as is usually the case whenever Maud Pie shows up, but Pinkie Pie just isn’t working here because they’ve drastically changed her character for this episode. It’s one thing for her to be nervous about Maud moving somewhere else, but she doesn’t even seem to understand Maud the same way she did in previous episodes. Despite Pinkie Pie being hyperactive and Maud being completely reserved, they always managed to click and fully understand one another in a way that seemed to baffle everyone else. Here though, she seems completely oblivious to Maud’s feelings, especially in the latter half of the episode, and it comes across as yet another example of the show regressing characters just so they can learn lessons they should have already known. For now though, Pinkie Pie needs to to keep Maud Pie from living all by herself in that miserable gorge which either means finding better rocks nearby or finding a new reason for her to stay. Maud admits that there’s one thing that she MIGHT be willing to settle in Ponyville for if Pinkie can somehow help her find it. Can you guess what it is? I’ll give you a hint! It’s something that has often been referred to as magic!
All Maud wants is to be loved (in a platonic way of course), and who better to give her the friendship she needs than Starlight Glimmer who’s quickly turning into the Twilight of secondary characters? Seriously, all she needs to do after befriending Maud is to recruit Muffins (who makes a brief cameo here), Octavia, and Bulk Biceps to create the Elements of Harmonies East (or the Great Lakes Mane6) which is a show I would ABSOLUTELY watch! Sadly there’s no appearance by Trixie here to make this THE BEST EPISODE EVER (as is the case every time she and Starlight are together), but I guess we’re saving that three pony team up for the presumed mid-season hiatus. After all, you can’t just blow all your big ideas at the beginning of the season! You gotta spread it out so that the inevitable CMC filler episodes don’t drag for too long! ANYWAY! Starlight JUST SO HAPPENS to run into Maud just as Pinkie was trying to figure out who would be the best candidate for Maud’s new best friend, and the two of them hit it off immediately! It ALSO turns out that they had a history together, albeit a very brief one, which involves Maud telling Starlight where to find the giant rock thingy that she used to store the Cutie Marks when she was in her fascist period (no wait… got to be sensitive. Uh… her economically anxious period?), and while it’s clearly just a throwaway gag that we’re not supposed to think about too seriously… well that’s what I freaking DO here so let’s start the nitpicking. Apropos of nothing, Starlight just asked a random pony looking at rocks if she knows where to find a magic one!? On top of that, Maud never once considered that telling this one pony with CLEARLY evil intent where to obtain such a powerful tool MIGHT just be a BAD thing!? Has Maud been evil this whole time and is just really good at hiding it!? Huh. I didn’t realize I COULD like Maud more than I already do!
The two of them end up bonding over rocks, kites, and world domination; all of which is INCREDIBLY adorable and pretty much ensures that Maud is gonna stay in Ponyville for the long haul. Good thing too considering how well the show has been managing its supporting cast recently which was always kind of a weak point in the earlier seasons as most secondary characters got one big episodes before being relegated to cameo status for all eternity. More Maud Pie (especially when paired up with Starlight and Trixie) can only spell good things for the series going forward! That is unless Pinkie Pie screws it all up which… yup. That’s exactly what she does. Not content to let the victory speak for itself, Pinkie continually interrupts them in the hopes of speeding along the friendship to a place that these two just aren’t ready for which will end up smothering their friendship before it has a chance to grow. Even though this is incredibly frustrating to watch as Pinkie Pie is simply NOT this stupid, I do like how nonchalant and clearly contemptuous they are to her shenanigans. At one point the two of them find an amazing oasis hidden inside a rock cave which SHOULD be enough of a friendship activity on its own, but Pinkie Pie has to up the ante by collapsing the cave and trapping them inside (because cabin fever is the PERFECT friendship kindling). The two end up escaping in less than a minute because they AREN’T idiots (and Maud is a rock expert), but that STILL isn’t enough for Pinkie Pie who continues to hound them after that; all of which is met with quite a high level of passive aggressive spite from these two who don’t appreciate the interruptions.
Pinkie Pie wakes up the next morning to find that Maud has split for Ghastly Gorge (surprise surprise) at which point she runs off to Twilight’s Doom Fortress to starts blaming Starlight for not being good enough friends with Maud. Ugh. Well as much as I REALLY do not like Pinkie Pie in this, I do have to say that Starlight’s speech to Pinkie Pie where she explains what happened yesterday and how it was all Pinkie’s fault is REALLY solid and once again shows how much Starlight is a breath of fresh air in a series that is starting to feel a bit stale. Seriously, everything I love about this season so far involves the stuff AROUND the Mane6 instead of the Mane6 directly, and that’s mostly because it’s getting hard to buy them as characters in CONSTANT need of moral guidance; leading to episodes with rather strange and poorly thought out lessons or reiterating stuff that’s already been covered. Starlight is by far the most unfiltered and realistically flawed character in this which is why her episodes tend to make much more sense and can go places that the writers seem unwilling to take the main cast.
After this delightful pep talk, Pinkie Pie runs off to catch the next train for Ghastly Gorge (next stop, Bad Luck Mountain) to apologize to Maud and see if she’ll reconsider moving to Ponyville. Starlight meanwhile went back to bed because… well, she’s Starlight. She doesn’t need to involve herself in everyone’s business! Hey, I’m SURE Pinkie Pie will have no problem handling this situation all by herself, right?
I guess we now know why they call the gorge Ghastly, but then again Fluttershy could EASILY convince this eel thingy that he’s being super naughty. Pinkie Pie many not have that trick up her sleeve, but she knows how to pull a solution from just outside the fourth wall (in this case, a car jack… in a world without cars), and manages to pry Maud out of the jaws of doom before the duo start hoofing it to safety. Along the way they get attacked by a few more eels which knock them both off course and over a ravine. Pinkie manages to find a ledge, but Maud is not so lucky and is hanging on for dear life. Now rather than pull Maud up which would be the most pertinent conflict to resolve, Pinkie takes this time to apologize for being a Nosy Parker and getting in the way of what she and Starlight had together. Well if she DOES end up falling to her untimely death, at least she’ll go down feeling validated!
Everything turns out just fine as they use the old cliché of someone dangling off a ledge which is only a few inches from the ground. How Pinkie Pie didn’t notice this as she was looking right down on her is still a mystery, but maybe she was just wrapped up in the moment! Okay, as much as I’ve been taking cheap shots at this apology scene (mostly because it’s for a lesson Pinkie Pie really shouldn’t have needed to learn!), the scene after this where they’re back at Maud’s makeshift camp is actually a VERY strong moment and is probably the most genuine bit of emotion in the entire episode as Pinkie breaks down after Maud forgives her. It’s not a long scene, but it really elevates this episode to have such a strong note for the main conflict to end on; especially considering how contrived the conflict felt in the first place.
Maud decides to give Ponyville another shot after Pinkie promises to leave her be while she makes the decision, and sure enough she ends up staying. Well… sort of. She meets up with Starlight who’s elated to learn that she’ll be staying this time around, but it turns out she won’t NECESSARILY be staying in town as she takes Starlight to see her new home. Remember that oasis from earlier in the episode? The one inside the cave? Well she converted it into her own little bachelorette pad which has everything she could ever need! Sure, it lacks central heating and the flaps of that tent probably won’t keep out any wandering wildlife, but other than that it’s perfect! Fingers crossed it doesn’t cave in on itself! And so the episode ends with Starlight and Maud becoming true friends and hopefully ensuring we’ll get more episodes about them in the future!
Despite its flaws involving Pinkie Pie’s portrayal, this is a really solid episode for season seven and is yet another example of this show expanding itself in all the right ways. Sure we’ve had Maud episodes before, but there’s still a whole lot of material that can be done with that character and adding Starlight into the mix was a stroke of genius. Sure, it felt the TINIEST bit forced for Maud to all of a sudden want friends who aren’t rocks (what, is Boulder not good enough now!?), but that VERY SMALL bit of contrivance is earned because of how well she and Starlight bounce off of each other which is easily the highlight of the episode. Unfortunately, while the show is continuing to prove that everything involving Starlight is great, it’s ALSO continuing to prove that the Mane6 are starting to wear out their welcome. Now we’re still rather early into the season and Celestial Advice was in fact a rather good use of Twilight Sparkle, but for every other episode we’ve gotten so far the Mane6 were clearly the weakest link. Their subplot was INCREDIBLY uninteresting in All Bottled Up, I was not a fan of how Twilight’s story was handled in A Flurry of Emotions, and now Pinkie Pie has regressed for seemingly no reason other than to artificially create conflict. Hopefully we can get some more really great episodes with the characters that made this show what it is today and fewer ones where everything feels so forced. Seriously, do we need ANOTHER episode about Fluttershy conquering her fears or one about Rainbow Dash being insecure? They can do other things, right!?