Reviews: My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic S 2 E 18 A Friend In Deed
The Power Of Love is a curious thing...
...It makes one man weep, and another man sing! Sorry, I couldn't resist. Anyway, this was a good episode. Great musical number, interesting plot, great characterization... yeah. Not much else to say, I suppose. 9/10 Other notes:
- This episode gave me an idea for a snowglobe; no base or anything, just some freaked-out guy flying around in it. (Yes, I know this has nothing to do with the episode, but still...)
Made Me Smile
I've been waiting to do this episode review ever since the song was leaked, and I have to say that it more than made up for any previous character-episode disappointments ("Read it and Weep" and "Mysterious Mare-Do-Well", I'm looking at you). This is the first truly serious look inside if how Pinky Pie's mind really works, even counting "Baby Cakes". To be honest, if every character-focus episode was of this quality the series would be darned near flawless. I'll take it bit by bit here. The opener and song finally show true and major character strengths, rather than just "You are so RANDOM". Even in "Elements of Harmony", where her Element of Laughter first came into force, we never quite knew HOW she did it. Turns out it's not all completely random, just a real gift for remembering details, seeing EVERYONE as a friend, and another gift for composing songs on the spot. The song itself... well, it was beautiful. Daniel Ingram's creative talent is in full swing, and the lyrics continue to show us the inside of Pinky's world-view. "There's only one thing that makes me happy, that makes my whole life worthwhile/ And that's when I talk to my friends and get them to smile" This explains SO MUCH about the character, and I will admit to shedding a Manly Tear when I heard it. Every flaw and quirk about her can be summed up by those two lines (ok, maybe not her 4th-wall breaking ability). She chatters so much because she considers everyone her friend and talks to them. All of them. Her random songs actually are made up on the spot (or pre-rehearsed for specific use, like the Welcome Wagon song she sings later in the episode). The chases are just her determination. Her ability to say the right thing at the right time comes from her exhaustive study of her friends and memory. The fact that we got a Brohoof come onto the screen was just icing on the cake. The post-song episode was also very good, giving us a tailor-made chance to see Pinky when she actually has to go through EFFORT to be... well, Pinky. CDD is also an ideal antagonist type for the series, that is to say a redeemable one (see also: Luna). Even given everything working out, she still ended up learning a good lesson and wrote a very solid letter to the Princess (unlike RD...), one lesson which she really needed to work on. In summary, watch it. It's good
Best Fi M episode? nah.
Best Fi M episode? nah. Pinkie Pie tries to befriend the tough donkey Cranky in this episode. But like Gilda he refuses friendship. The episode opens with the song Smile where everypony sings along. Appleack was not in last episode but she has a short role here. Then Pinkie Pie later on chases Cranky but it's not that easy to befriend him again. So will Cranky find that special some donkey under the Heart and Hooves season? It's not the best Fi M episode and the songs are forgettable. There is not a bad Fi M episode but this could had been better. But just watch this episode if you love the hyperative party pony anyway.
I'm smiling, but something's not right here.
So here we have the second Pinkie Pie episode this season, and her most cartoonish appearance to date. She sings more than in any other episode, reality couldn't get much more broken without Discord around, and the energy never drops! All of which bugs the hell out of Cranky Doodle Donkey, a curmudgeon moving into Ponyville with isolation on his mind. Pinkie tries to make friends with Cranky in varying degrees of obsessiveness, energy, and common sense, but Cranky remains unmoved. When Pinkie's antics destroy one of Cranky's prized possessions, he tells her off for good. Or it would be for good if it were anypony but Pinkie Pie, who rallies once more and melts Cranky's icy heart by reuniting him with a long-lost love. This episode gave me every reason to love it: there's a fleshed-out awesome song and several smaller ones, it stars Pinkie Pie, the animation is exemplary and the gags are hilarious. So why am I not enthralled by such a display? Well, it all comes down to story. Throughout the episode, Cranky is sympathetic; he's not really doing anything wrong by ignoring Pinkie, and his treatment at her hands gets pretty rough and embarrassing. I find it difficult to root for Pinkie's efforts when it's clear they end up worsening the relationship. Sure she has good intentions, but she still doesn't take Cranky's feelings into much consideration. She does do a few things right, like getting him a new toupee or finding his lost love. Which is actually the other problem I had with the story; Matilda, another donkey who turns out to be Cranky's Shallow Love Interest from X-ty years ago. There's not even foreshadowing on her being the lost love; Pinkie Pie only figures it out from her creepily thorough knowledge of everypony in Ponyville. Oh, and if Cranky searched Equestria for her after they met in Canterlot, how was Ponyville not the first place he looked? I found my opinion on this episode to be similar to that of "The Last Roundup", an episode that had a few plot problems but had a lot of cartoon flair to the point where I could overlook the holes. This episode was even more cartoonish, but the problems have swelled accordingly and I can't let these go. It's a shame too, because I really liked "The Last Roundup" even disregarding Derpy. This episode put a smile on my face, but it was only skin deep.
Very nice, except for one thing.
We've had at least one Pinkie episode already this season, but "A Friend In Deed" gives us some new things all the same. We get a little more info as to how other ungulates in Equestria function (the way a given universe works never fails to interest me), Pinkie Pie gets more character development, with some nods to the less cheerful aspects of her personality, and most important for me, every issue I have with her as a viewer is brought up and examined, and it's clearly shown that, in spite of her faults, at the end of the day she is a very good friend to have. The only problem I have is with the ending. For one, it seems like a cop-out, and an extremely obvious one in retrospect; Matilda is the first donkey ever seen on the show, and female, so it only stands to reason she'd be Cranky's love interest, and it feels like she was created for that sole purpose. If she had been introduced in an earlier episode, the whole thing might have worked, but here it just seems contrived. A much bigger complaint is how much more emotionally powerful and resonating the episode could have been, if, say, the special friend had been Cranky's deceased wife. The concept of death does exist in Equestria, as shown in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment in the previous episode, and "A Friend In Deed" I think missed an opportunity to treat the matter in a more serious light. Cranky could have confided in Pinkie Pie, as she definitely has an understanding and sympathetic side, and we could have ended with, if not a full-blown grin from him, at least a small, warm smile at the comfort of having Pinkie always be around to brighten his day. All that said, even if the ending didn't completely satisfy me, the episode as a whole did, and I think that's what counts.
A Perfect Example of Why I Dislike Pinkie Pie
Now, let me dispel the knee-jerk reactions to the title of this review: Pinkie Pie is a good and complex character, like ALL of the Mane 6 and I appreciate this. It's just that her complex personality grates on me as she is a loudmouthed, attention-seeking pony who is able to make herself the center of attention with impunity because so many ponies like this personality. I, on the other hand, am more like Cranky in that I am a loner who likes his quiet time over an over the top party; making his frustration with her throughout the episode very understandable and making him a highly sympathetic character to me. Now, there is a moral to be found at the end (and a very good one at that), and this would usually be enough to salvage the show from many a problem I have with them. But Pinkie's behavior throughout the episode almost completely contradicts the lesson she supposedly learns from it. Her actions (Barring a few) border on complete lack of empathy for Cranky and his own personal boundaries, to the point of destroying something very dear to him and being upset that he isn't interested in being her friend instead of the fact that she did something wrong. I know that the moral is that your personalities don't need to match to be friends, but you also need to be respective of the other party's differences from you, something that Pinkie wasn't doing. And, like many of the other posters, I find the reveal of Matilda at the end to be a cop-out of the highest order; meant SOLELY for the benefit of Pinkie Pie to get her exactly what she wanted no matter what. I'm very sure there's a way to do this sort of episode right; but, sadly, this wasn't it.