Spike: Hey there, Lickety Split! That's a pretty cool ball you got there! Did you know it's my birthday?
Written by M.A. Larson
Lights dim around the library as Twilight Sparkle prepares for the highly arduous task of... re-shelving her books. Her concentration is broken, however, as Spike giggles in anticipation of eating a flawless fire ruby for his birthday dinner next week. When Rarity drops by, she spots the gem, and her admiration turns to distress when she learns he plans to eat the precious jewel. Sensing her discomfort, Spike graciously gives it to her instead, and earns a peck on the cheek.A week later, it's time for Spike's birthday party, and Twilight uses the timely arrival of Pinkie Pie and the others to finally wash the kiss off his cheek. Spike, celebrating his first birthday in Ponyville, is astonished at the numerous gifts he receives:
Spike: I usually only get one gift for my birthday. From Twilight. A book.
[Twilight smiles sheepishly and then hides the gift-wrapped book she was carrying behind her back]
Midway through the party, Spike goes to Sugarcube Corner to pick up a special sapphire cupcake Mr. and Mrs. Cake have made for him. As he's returning home, he crashes into Cheerilee, who gives him a Nice Hat when she hears that it's his birthday. Sensing an opportunity, Spike starts talking up everypony in town, mentioning his birthday and extorting presents from them. When Twilight catches him in the act, he stops briefly, only to resume once she leaves for home…The next morning, Twilight is shocked to find Spike's bed covered with gifts — and that Spike is now a gangly adolescent as big as her! Not getting any answers from a pediatrician or a veterinarian, the two visit Zecora, who explains that his dragon nature is compelling him to hoard, which spurs his growth and drives him to even more avarice. Before the two can act, Spike steals everything from Zecora's hut and escapes! Twilight chases him back to town, where Spike's reverted to Hulk Speak and grabbing everything in sight. She tries to trap him in the library, but he breaks through the wall and rampages through Ponyville, snatching the apples and leaves from Applejack's farm, Fluttershy's chicken coop, the cakes from Sugarcube Corner, the Ponyville water tower, and finally Rarity!Swatting away Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy (as well as the Wonderbolts), the now-massive Spike climbs the nearby mountain to find solace and a cave for his collection. As they ascend, Rarity (unaware that Spike is her captor) begins to tell him off; when he covets the fire ruby around her neck, Rarity contrasts his destructive greed with "Spikey-wikey," the kindest, sweetest, and most generous dragon ever. Reminded of his true nature, Spike instantly reverts to his original size, and the two suddenly plummet to the ground below. In freefall, Spike starts to confess his love for Rarity, only for her to gently silence him with a teary smile. The two are rescued by Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash at the last moment and deposited on the town's main bridge.While the others celebrate, Spike looks shamefacedly over the swath of destruction in his wake. Near tears, he is surprised when Rarity tells him she's proud of him, and explains that he saved the town by overcoming his greed and remembering who he really is. Calling him her hero, she rewards him with another kiss on the cheek.His spirits uplifted, Spike writes his own letter to Princess Celestia:
You might think that it would feel good to get lots and lots of stuff, but it doesn't feel nearly as good as giving something special to somepony you really care about. Well, I learned it is truly better to give than to receive, and that kindness and generosity are what lead to true friendship! And that's more valuable than anything in the world.
Well... almost anything. [Spike turns, revealing he has framed Rarity's last kiss.]
Tropes present in this episode (YMMV tropes can be found here):
Actor Allusion: The fact that Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie have the same actress is mocked a bit, when Rainbow Dash can somehow tell their identical-sounding screams apart.
Rarity: Oh, be quiet! You've got nothing to be proud of! Steal everypony's things, terrorize the town, and use me as a weapon against my own friends! Which, as horrible as it is, I can almost understand because you're a dragon and all, but THIS! [tears off ruined cape]THIS IS A CRIME AGAINST FASHION!
Ascended Fridge Horror: Up until now this show had been pretty much stepping around the potential issues that could arise from a dragon living in a pony community; this episode addresses them thoroughly.... for about ten minutes, then brushes them aside again. The real Fridge here might lie in why everyone in town is so quick to accept Spike again after he caused what might be the only crisis in the show brought about not by outside trickery or a misunderstanding, but willful violence and crime. The fact that this will apparently be In the Blood for Spike forever and we see more adult dragons in the background than children only makes things worse...
Ash Face: Happens to the pony pediatrician when Twilight takes Spike to see him.
Attack Backfire: When Pinkie throws a pudding at Spike, he just catches it and adds it to his growing hoard.
Spike sees stars after Twilight yanks her globe away and makes him fall hard on his face and every time she has to yank stuff out of his grasp for the rest of the episode.
Cheerilee also sees stars after her collision with Spike.
Color-Coded Stones: That red gemstone Spike's saving for his birthday? It's called a Fire Ruby.
Conspicuous CG: The thick black line around the Fire Ruby Spike is holding is glaringly out of place, drawing attention to the fact that the gemstone doesn't share the same shading style as the rest of the show.
Crash into Hello: Spike is devoting so much attention to happily boggling at his cupcake from Mr. and Mrs. Cake that he collides with Cheerilee, which leads to the conversation that gets him thinking greedily.
Deadly Upgrade: Dragon adulthood grants immense size and power, but at the cost of becoming a greedy, mindless rampaging beast.
Delayed Reaction: Rarity has one upon first hearing Spike intends to eat the Fire Ruby.
Rarity: Is that a Fire Ruby? That must be at least 20 carats! No inclusions, pristine facets... Spike: And totally delicious. Twilight: Uh, you guys don't mind? Rarity: Oh, of course. I just came by to see if you had any books on historical fashion. Did you say "delicious?" Spike: Sure did!
Happens again to Spike when he realizes Twilight gave him the washcloth for his kissed cheek.
Twilight and Applejack try to tie up Spike but tie themselves to a tree.
The Wonderbolts, whose heroic efforts end with them stuck inside the empty water tower.
Pinkie Pie's cake throwing just fuels Spike's greed even further and empties the bakery even faster.
Evil Sounds Deep: Spike's voice deepens significantly the more he grows into a full dragon. Justified in that he's maturing, so it's more like a boy's voice breaking when he hits puberty.
Flashback: Spike remembers his moment of gifting the fire ruby to Rarity, though some of the details have conspicuously changed… Then again, this is from Spike's POV and he probably remembers differently.
Freefall Romance: Spike chooses the moment when he and Rarity are plummeting to their doom to confess his crush to her.
Funny Background Event: In one shot, Spike is walking in Ponyville with Lyra Heartstrings & Bonbon talking in the background, then Derpy pops up between them; from the inside of a well.
Furry Reminder: Junebug is drinking from the pool of a (non-drinking) fountain like a horse before Spike talks to her.
Gaussian Girl: Rarity gets this treatment when she's lusting over the Fire Ruby.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: At first it seems that Twilight closes the curtains for privacy and lights candles to set the mood while she "re-shelves her books", but it turns out she's really just re-shelving her books.
Rainbow Dash drops a dumbbell on Spike from above. Implication seems to be it's something from her own gym she stuck a bow on.
Twilight has cluelessly, but with good intentions, given Spike a book every year. When she hears his thrilled reaction to his presents from everypony else and his dismayed remembrance that a book is all he's ever gotten from her, she backs away, embarrassed with what is obviously another gift-wrapped book..
Good Cop/Bad Cop: Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, respectively, when they try to get Spike to put Rarity down.
Rainbow Dash: Put her down, right now! Fluttershy: I— if you wouldn't mind, that is... Rainbow Dash: I mean it, dragon boy! Fluttershy: We'll be ever so grateful if you'd be so kind as to possibly consider... Rainbow Dash: Drop her, scaly!
Heroic BSOD: Pinkie Pie gets one after Spike destroys Sugarcube Corner.
Homage: When the rampaging Spike, now immense, gets to Carousel boutique, the bit with him looking in her window and reaching for Rarity is a shot-for-shot homage to King Kong. The same is true for the Wonderbolts diving in like planes and Spike swatting at them.
Hulk Speak: Spike's articulate vocabulary devolves to "Spike want!" as he gets bigger and out of control. Near the end, he doesn't even use words and is reduced to roaring.
Hulking Out: Pretty much the main plot of this episode is how Spike gradually transformed into an adult dragon.
Idiot Ball: Twilight for never considering the possibility of researching dragon life cycle prior to this episode, and by extension Celestia for either similarly not doing research or, more likely, allowing Twilight to take him to Ponyville without informing her of the specifics of such. Later justified as of Dragon Quest; apparently since dragons are so rare, no one ever bothered to research them to any degree, which raises its own questions.
I Meant to Do That: Done in pantomime by the Wonderbolts after they're freed from the water tower.
Jaw Drop: This is Pinkie Pie's reaction when she sees Spike grow bigger and wreck Sugarcube Corner.
Kaiju: Spike after maturing to full size and going on a thieving rampage comes off as this, though he isn't really attacking Ponyville and its citizens intentionally so much as he's just greedily stealing stuff and leaving mass destruction behind in the process.
The episode ends with two characters nearly falling to their deaths, with the city destroyed, and a character who we know and love is to blame. What set all of this in motion? A spur-of-the-moment gift from the kind schoolteacher Cheerilee.
Spike causes massive property damage and is depressed about it. He gets a kiss on the cheek from Rarity, and then… "Dear Princess Celestia."
My God, What Have I Done?: Spike doesn't come right out and say it, but the emotion is conveyed by his reaction to seeing Ponyville devastated, and his own giant footprints.
My God, You Are Serious: Applejack initially laughs at Twilight's claim that Spike is running rampant... until she sees it for herself.
Nice Hat: Spike gets a fedora from Cheerilee. Let's not beat around the bush: he got a pimp hat.
No Ontological Inertia: As soon as Spike remembers he can be generous and how happy it made Rarity, his uncontrolled dragon growth spurt and personality change reverse instantly. This leads to the new problem of how high up he and Rarity are with no way down except the cruel pull of gravity.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Rarity doesn't recognize the giant purple/green dragon as her "Spiky-Wikey" until after he reverts back to his baby form. The same occurs with some of the other mane cast. Then again, given the significant visual and behavioral changes, perhaps they believed he was a different member of the same breed.
Pimped Out Cape: Rarity makes one for each of the mane cast (although the first one for herself had to be redone).
Playing with Fire: Twilight Sparkle lights a few candles at the start of the episode.
P.O.V. Cam: Several instances from Spike's perspective, including during the Flash Back mentioned above.
The Power of Love: Spike loses himself as his greed takes over and kidnaps Rarity. However, when she mentions the Fire Ruby was a gift from "[her] dear friend, Spikey-wikey," he is able to remember why he gave it to her in the first place.
Prehensile Tail: Spike uses his tail as an extra hand when he's looking for things to hog.
Prop Recycling: The objects in Spike's hoard mentioned under Call Back. It's unlikely that he could have obtained an identical trophy or football from ponies on the street. There's also several other elements seen from earlier episodes (the punch bowl, a scooter that looks very much like Scootaloo's (which he also attempted to take), the kitchen sink, and so on).
Razor Wings: The Wonderbolts create this effect when they fly.
Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Spike is normally portrayed as adorable but in this episode, his reptilian traits become more pronounced as he succumbs to dragon greed. His irises become smaller and the slitted pupil more pronounced. His long tongue starts to hiss. When he opens his mouth to yawn or growl, his teeth are bigger and his mouth cavernous. Used to creepy effect when he begins to indulge his own greed; he blinks, and his eyelids are sideways and transparent.
Rule of Symbolism: The Fire Ruby forms the shape of a heart when held upside-down, implying that love overcomes greed. Even in Spike's flashback, the stone is held that way.
Rule of Three: It takes visits to three practitioners to determine what's wrong with Spike.
Talking Is a Free Action: Even though Spike is on the loose and tearing Ponyville apart Rainbow Dash takes her time to thoroughly make fun of Applejack and Twilight Sparkle, who accidentally tied themselves up when chasing Spike with a rope. She only snaps out of it after hearing Fluttershy is in danger.
Talking the Monster to Death: Played with. Rarity goes on a tirade about how rude it is to be used as a weapon against her friends being understandable because he's a dragon. Then she describes how sweet "Spikey-wikey" was to give her the beautiful fire ruby, and that is what reminds Greedy!Spike of the moment and undoes his transformation.
Tearful Smile: Rarity, as her silent way of showing that she always knew about Spike's crush on her.
Teleport Spam: Twilight gets particularly spammy in this episode. It's most obvious in the scene where she tries to wipe Rarity's kiss mark off Spike's cheek, and keeps teleporting Spike to her as he tries to run away. The sequence ends when Pinkie Pie is randomly teleported in instead!
Visual Pun: Spike plans to eat his Fire Ruby. He holds a tuning fork to test its readiness.
Wham Episode: This episode brought a double wham: First of all, we are revealed that Spike is way more dangerous and unstable than we could have ever imagined, and second, Spike finally confesses his secret crush to Rarity, who reveals that she already knew, and then accepts it with teary eyes. (though the second wasn't that much of a surprise)