Spike: Spike, the boss of you, that's who!
Spike is eagerly making a jewel-encrusted cake all for himself, but thoughtlessly eats his entire stash of jewels before he can get started. And if he weren't feeling bad enough, he wasn't even invited to the Crystal Empire with Twilight and friends to welcome the head of the Equestria Games. Just then, Fluttershy comes over and lifts his spirits by offering him a big, juicy jewel for his cake...if he looks after Angel Bunny while she's away, that is. Without a second thought, Spike gets the brilliant idea of convincing everypony else to let him watch their pets in exchange for more jewels. By the time the six ponies ship out to the Crystal Empire, Spike has a small stash of jewels of every shape and size—and a library full of critters that he has no idea how to take care of!
Spike would much rather finish his cake than look after the unruly pets, particularly Angel, who bounces away the first chance he gets. Spike chases Angel to the Cutie Mark Crusaders' clubhouse and finds the bunny better enjoys the company of Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle, so he gets another idea: leave all the pets with the Crusaders so they can "get their critter-sitting cutie marks"! But Apple Bloom demands one of Spike's jewels in return so they can pay for petsitting supplies. Now not only is Spike short one jewel, but he later discovers that the Crusaders are (shockingly) no better petsitters than he is and have already spent the jewel on a giant pet hairdryer.
The day keeps getting worse for Spike as he tries to find more ponies to shift his responsibilities onto: Zecora takes a jewel in an offer to relieve him of his "bad mojo", which turns out to be his dragon greed and not the pets as he hopes; and he bribes Granny Smith with another jewel to keep her mouth shut about his questionable petsitting methods. Soon Angel Bunny gets loose again and boards a train, and Spike pretends to chaperon the Cutie Mark Crusaders to convince the conductor to let him and the pets board, giving up yet another jewel for payment. Unfortunately, they only catch Angel right as the train departs—straight for the Crystal Empire, no less!
Once they get to the empire — and Spike gives away his second-to-last jewel to pay for a wrecked donut cart — Angel sees Fluttershy and friends at the station, and once again gets loose to reunite with his owner. Spike desperately throws his final, biggest jewel and knocks down a tower of luggage to block Angel's path so he can catch the bunny. Spike, the pets, and the Crusaders all board the train back to Ponyville but, unluckily for them, all have to hide in the same car as the six ponies.
Angel threatens to expose Spike to the oblivious ponies, but overhearing Twilight compliment what a great petsitter Spike is makes the guilty dragon realize he's been anything but and deserves to get caught. Angel has a change of heart, but Spike's sudden stomach-rumbling threatens to expose them all instead, so Angel saves everyone by fetching the big jewel and feeding Spike half of it. They all return to Ponyville and get off the train in time to meet Twilight and their friends, who remain none the wiser to the sidekicks' misadventures. Spike finally goes back to making his jewel cake...only to thoughtlessly eat the rest of his last jewel.
Note: This is the eighth episode of the third season, but the eleventh aired.
- Adult Fear: Spike's repeated mismanagement of the Mane Six's pets. It gets even worse when Angel forces him to drag the rest of the pets onto the train to the Crystal Empire which departs before they can get off. Also, the Cutie Mark Crusaders riding the train without the knowledge of their families.
- An Aesop: Taking care of others may be harder than you think. It's important to care for them more than yourself.
- Aesop Amnesia: Played with. Despite how awful he felt at the time, Spike seems to have forgotten the disastrous events resulting from his greed on his first birthday in Ponyville, until Zecora pointedly reminds him. It's possible that Spike doesn't feel he's being too greedy himself since he's not getting the jewels by force but as payment for a service he's offering.
- All for Nothing: Throughout the episode, Spike is forced to give away all but one of the gems the Mane 6 gave him for watching the pets and then he eats the last one before he can bake it into his cake, making everything he went through in the episode completely fruitless.
- Amusing Injuries: As it usually happens in Spike-centered episodes. The most common one is Tank crashing into him.
- And Your Reward Is Edible: Spike goes to great lengths for a jewelry feast.
- Argument of Contradictions: Pinkie Pie has one with her alligator Gummy, though, of course, we only get to hear her side.Pinkie: No, I love you more! No, I love you more! I LOVE YOU MORE!
- As You Know: Fluttershy informs Spike that she and the rest of the Mane Six will be going to the Crystal Empire to welcome the head of the Equestria Games, just when Spike is feeling particularly bitter that he wasn't invited to come in the first place.
- Babysitting Episode: Spike pet-sits for all the mane six. He's mainly interested in the gems he received as payment, and he spends the bare minimum of time actually watching the pets. This comes back to bite him when one of the pets, Angel Bunny, resents being ignored and runs away; Spike is run through the wringer trying to get Angel back.
- Badly Battered Babysitter:
- Spike finds himself in way over his head trying to take care of all the pets.
- The CMC are battered even worse during their brief stint.
- Balloon Belly: Spike's stomach bulges after Angel stuffs him with half of the huge gem.
- Big Ball of Violence: The pets get into one.
- Big Word Shout: Spike screams "WHY?!" twice when he realizes he's out of gems.
- Bittersweet Ending: Spike manages to get all the pets in line before anyone's the wiser, however he sacrifices all his gems in the process, and obliviously eats his remaining one, much to his despair.
- Book-Ends: The episode begins and ends with Spike eating the gems for his cake, prompting one big WHY!?
- Bratty Half-Pint: Angel Bunny's defining personality trait. Justified in this episode because he realizes Spike doesn't know how to take care of the pets, so the rabbit feels No Sympathy for the dragon and therefore sees no problem on giving him a bad time on purpose.
- Brick Joke
- In the opening, Spike keeps eating the gems he is planning to add to the cake to the point there are none left; at the end, he eats the single one remaining he got for critter-sitting.
- Rainbow Dash advises Spike to get a helmet, saying that he would only want to get hit in the head by a turtle once. Later, before he goes looking for Angel, Spike gets hit in the head by Tank: cue a scene cut to Spike walking all the animals with a helmet on his head. Further on, as soon as he hands over the rest of the pets to the CMC, he dumps the helmet on Scootaloo's head, who then is promptly hit by Tank.
- BSoD Song: After accidentally eating all the jewels he saved for his cake, Spike begins to sing a song about how miserable he is, but doesn't even finish the first verse before Fluttershy comes knocking.
- Bullet Time: When Spike throws the jewel to try to stop Angel. Accompanied by a Stock Sound Effect (see below).
- Burning with Anger: Spike, after he is trampled into the ground by the escaped pets.
- Butt-Monkey: As if the pets didn't cause him enough trouble, he losses the gems he endures for to make up for the trouble. Justified as, this time, be brought it all on himself with his greed.
- The Cameo
- The crazy, barking pony from "Read It and Weep" (Screw Loose), along with Nurse Coldheart, can be seen during one of the shots in town. Her hair is still disheveled but her expression's a bit less, well, barking mad; apparently she's doing better now.
- The skinny, nerdy pony ("Gizmo") from "Putting your Hoof Down" is back and now owns a potions store.
- Donut Joe is selling donuts on the train.
- Cassandra Truth: Of the Mane Six, Applejack is the only one to suspect that something is amiss on the train when Spike's stomach growls.
- Character Development:
- True to his inherent dragon nature, Spike's main concern at the start of the episode is for jewels. As he crosses more ponies who demand jewels for helping him through his misadventures, Spike becomes more and more willing to give them away until the end, when he finally sacrifices his last jewel to get out of a mess all on his own.
- All the ponies' housepets now have established distinctive personalities to some extent.
- Chase Scene: Spike chasing Angel at the train station.
- Chekhov's Skill: or Chekhov's Lack of Skill. The sequence of photos with Peewee show that Spike isn't that great a pet sitter even if his heart is in the right place.
- Comically Missing the Point: It's doubtful the CMC will reach terminal airspeed velocity needed for skydiving by jumping from the top of the Ponyville bridge.
- Comically Small Bribe: Played with. Rarity pays Spike with the tiniest jewel, so it's the smallest payment he gets, since he wants to use it for food. Later, the Cutie Mark Crusaders use that same gem to buy a humongous and obviously quite expensive hairdryer, so this jewel obviously has a very high monetary value. For comparison's sake, Spike used two of the biggest gems to pay for train tickets (though cross-country, round-trip train tickets for four people and a bunch of pets wouldn't be at all cheap) and a tray of donuts. At the same time, as a dragon, the monetary value of a gem doesn't matter nearly as much as its size and taste. Spike using the smallest gem as payment to the CMC is much less a sacrifice to him than would be the largest.
- Continuity Nod:
- A series of photos show that Spike eventually returned Peewee to his parents, thus explaining his absence.
- Spike is wearing his heart apron again.
- Spike still thinks Owlowiscious is asking "Who?" every time the Owl hoots.
- Spike seems to have a flair for screaming dramatically towards the sky.
- Everyone keeps calling Tank a turtle instead of a tortoise, except this time Fluttershy isn't around to correct them when it happens.
- Spike assures the Mane Six that he can handle pet-sitting, then closes the door and turns around, getting a taste of how tricky the job will really be, just like Pinkie Pie in "Baby Cakes".
- You can see Screw Loose from "Read it and Weep" released and reinserted into society in the background.
- Big Mac and Cheerilee are seen walking down the street together.
- In "The Last Roundup," Golden Harvest (a.k.a. Carrot Top) and a gray unicorn stallion (nicknamed Written Script by the fandom) were in a few scenes together and implied to be a couple. In this episode, they can be seen nuzzling affectionately at the Crystal Empire train station.
- This isn't the first time the Crusaders have had to use one of Scootaloo's feathers to get the job done. She also still doesn't take kindly to one of her feathers being plucked.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Spike goes to sometimes elaborate means to keep the pets in line. Not to mention proves to be Made of Iron throughout.
- Cruel to Be Kind: Zecora takes one of Spike's gems and gives it to charity... in order to prevent his natural greed from getting the better of him. As mentioned above, for good reason.
- Cuteness Proximity:
- Rarity's reaction to Tank licking Rainbow Dash.
- The CMC's reaction to Angel.
- A Day in the Limelight: Spike. The pets also get more focus than in previous episodes.
- Death Glare: Angel provokes a good amount of these throughout the episode.
- Devil in Plain Sight: Angel. The CMC love him, while Spike and the other pets (even Gummy) react with disdain.
- Dog Walks You: Spike bringing the pets along on leashes is a strange sight. Naturally, Winona is the one plowing ahead while the others keep up (and Opal being dragged along). As seen in the page image, Tank and Owlowiscious are keeping Spike hovering slightly above the ground, meaning Winona gets total control over where Spike and the other pets go.
- Dude, Not Funny!: Spike glares at a laughing Angel after Zecora donates one of his gems.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Spike helped Cadance save the Crystal Empire, yet she doesn't invite him to help the others with welcoming the Head of the Equestria Games.
- Easily Overheard Conversation: Spike really gets a good scare when accidentally overhearing the Cutie Mark Crusaders discussing how they take care of the pets.Scootaloo: (from inside the CMC clubhouse): Has anyone seen Tank's head? Where's his head?!
(Spike barges into the clubhouse)
Spike: What have you done to the turtle?!
(Tank's head pops out from inside his shell)
Scootaloo: Oh, I totally forgot he could do that.
- Easy Come, Easy Go: The Mane Six each give Spike a jewel for babysitting their pets. He loses all of them by the end of the episode.
- Empathy Pet: Throughout with Owlowiscious, and by Angel in the finale. All the pets, save Angel, also give a glare at the bunny when he jumps the Friendship Express, mimicking Spike's own feelings towards Angel.
- Everyone Has Standards: All the pets indirectly cause havoc for Spike, but loathe Angel, who deliberately tries to give the dragon a hard time.
- Eyedscreen: Twice. Both punctuated by Spike's "Angel!"
- Face Palm: Spike, at the sight of the industrial-sized pet hairdryer.
- Fascinating Eyebrow: Owlowiscious gets one in reaction to Spike's "now you see 'em, now you don't" trick.
- Fatal Flaw: Gluttony ends up being this for Spike in the episode. His inability to control himself from eating all his gems in the first place is what causes the entire episode's plot to kick off, and it's what robs him of the small compensation he gets at the end as well.
- "Fawlty Towers" Plot: Spike uses one gem after another to cover up his lie about being a good petsitter. It would have come crashing down on him at the train if Angel didn't decide to cut him a break.
- Free-Range Children: Spike accidentally taking the Cutie Mark Crusaders to the Crystal Empire.
- From Bad to Worse: Spike's problems to keep the pets under control and save his jewels.
- Funny Background Event:
- Fluttershy doesn't even notice Angel pretty much begging her to save him from Owlowiscious.
- While Spike is walking the pets, Screw Loose, the patient from "Read It and Weep" who thought she was a dog, now lives in a house. The nurse outside turns away from her for a moment, hears Winona's barking, and turns back to her patient in alarm. Screw Loose gives her a look that seems to say "It's not me this time!"
- At the end, when Spike shouts "WHY?", Winona howls along with him.
- Furry Reminder: Angel the rabbit is terrified of owls.
- Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: Spike makes his friends pay with gems in order to make his jewel cake.
- Growling Gut: Spike's stomach is noisy when he's hungry.
- Hidden Heart of Gold: Rainbow Dash makes sure nopony is watching when she gives Tank a goodbye nose rub, and then quickly plays it off as if nothing happened.
- House Husband: A non-romantic example. Spike stays at home to do the chores while Twilight and the girls go out to work.
- Intelligible Unintelligible: Subverted; Pinkie acts like she understands Gummy's... nothing, really, but it's obvious she's just guessing.
- Iron Butt Monkey: The only reason Spike can still keep going despite all his Amusing Injuries.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Spike and Angel towards each other. Spike has previously shown that he doesn't like Angel, and Angel's antics throughout the episode don't really change that. Then at the end, when Spike confesses that he should have been taking care of pets instead of focusing on his cake, Angel grabs Spike's last gem and feeds half of it to the hungry dragon to save them all from being caught by the Mane Six.
- The Klutz: Tank hasn't gotten the hang of flying around; an excuse for why he gives Spike as much trouble as the others. Justified because Tank is a tortoise and lacks the quick reflexes to make him an effective pilot.
- Laser-Guided Karma:
- Spike selfishly persuades his friends to give him jewels just so he can make a cake for himself. So each time he finds himself in a mess and needs to get out of it, he fittingly loses a jewel.
- Defied by Angel when he, the pets and the Crusaders hide from the Mane Six on the train. Spike considers taking the fall when his Growling Gut attracts the attention of the Mane Six but Angel feeds Spike with half of his last remaining gem and they avoid detection.
- Lower-Deck Episode: Lampshaded by the title. Due to some organizational changes in the sequencing of the season episodes, the episode this one plays lower deck to airs after it.
- Loyal Animal Companion:
- Though her rambunctious and hyperactive tendancies still cause trouble, Winona is the only animal to immediately obey Spike's orders.
- Owlowiscious is the second-most cooperative, being Vitriolic Best Buds with Spike.
- Ludicrous Precision: Rarity proclaims that Opal requires a precise 81.4 degrees to be comfortable. When she is in the library to hand Opal off to Spike, she states, "It's a chilly 81.2 in here."
- Mass "Oh, Crap!": Spike, the pets and the Crusaders when the Mane Six step into the same car they're using to take back home.
- Mobstacle Course: Spike chasing Angel at the Crystal Empire's station.
- Musicalis Interruptus: See BSoD Song.
- Never Work with Children or Animals: In-Universe example. The main lesson Spike learns in this episode since 'don't be greedy' didn't stick.
- Noodle Incident:Rainbow Dash: All I'm saying is that you might wanna think about a helmet. You only wanna be hit in the head by a flying turtle...once.
- Also, what happened at the CMC clubhouse between when Spike leaves the pets with them, and when he runs back fearing that Tank's literally lost his head after hearing Scootaloo's comment. How did Owlowiscious end up stuck to the wall like that?
- No Sympathy: Spike and Angel both bounce this off each other. Spike is preoccupied with his gems and doesn't care about caring for Angel, who misses his owner, which the latter is vehement on reuniting with and couldn't care less what trouble he causes Spike in the process. Averted by the end of the episode, where they both seem to undergo a Jerkass Realization.
- Not So Stoic: This episode marks the first time both Owlowiscious and Gummy convey clear facial expressions. Owlowiscious acts as a Silent Snarker while Gummy shows subdued but visible angry and happy emotions.
- Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Twilight, who doesn't realize Spike and the pets are hiding in their train cabin, reassures Applejack with her faith in Spike as a petsitter. Seeing how Spike's been anything but a good petsitter throughout the entire episode, this really hits Spike where it hurts.
- Odd Friendship: It seems Spike and Owlowiscious have become pretty friendly to each other since their earlier friction between each other. Similarly, among the pets, Tank and Opal spend most of the episode together; they even rub heads as a sign of affection, and when the pets board the train, Tank (thanks to his flying device) carries Opal so she doesn't need to walk. Owlowiscious spends a good bit of time carrying Gummy as well.
- Off with His Head!: Subverted. The Crusaders worry that Tank lost his head but it turns out he was just hiding in his shell.
- The Oner: The shot where the Mane Six bid farewell to their pets before leaving.
- Only Sane Man: Owlowiscious seems to have the most sense out of all the pets, not to mention more sense than the petsitter.
- Out of Order: This is episode 8 of season 3, but it was pushed back to be the 11th aired so that it could air just before "Games Ponies Play".
- Pet the Dog: Literal example. The whole episode is a Pet the Dog occasion from the writers to all the pets, giving them the chance to shine by their own.
- Practical Currency: Played with; Spike is getting paid with jewels, something that isn't that practical in Real Life but, in-universe, is a dragon's favorite food. They're also valuable to ponies as well, but their individual worth is very difficult to calculate; the tiniest of Spike's gems (which would likely fit in even Angel's paw) is worth enough bits to buy an industrial-sized pet hairdryer, while the bigger gems are used to pay for a few train tickets and a tray of donuts. Further complicating matters is that Spike isn't using them as proper currency, but as bribes. Rather than getting the full measure of their value, Spike was just handing them over to make problems go away. All that one can say for certain is that a given jewel was enough to make a given problem disappear.
- Pro Bono Barter: As said above, Spike is getting paid with food (jewels) instead of bits, the show's normal currency.
- The Punishment Is the Crime: When Spike apologizes to the pets for neglecting them, Angel decides that Spike has suffered enough and helps Spike evade the Mane Six and further punishment.
- Put on a Bus: Spike returned Peewee back to his parents.
- A Rare Sentence: Quoth Rainbow Dash: "You only want to get hit in the head by a flying turtle...once."
- Real Men Hate Affection: Rainbow Dash doesn't really want to be seen showing affection but does nuzzle Tank anyway. Going right back to her awkward stance after it is done.
- Rule of Three: Spike has three encounters with Tank crashing into his head before he starts wearing a crash helmet.
- Running Gag
- Saying Too Much: When greeting Rarity, Sweetie Belle mentions the snow globes at the Crystal Empire's train station. Rarity immediately gets suspicious of this, and it's obvious she doesn't buy Sweetie's excuse.
- Schizo Tech: The industrial-sized pet dryer.
- Scooby Stack: The Crusaders do this on the train after Angel uses Tank to bust the door open.
- The Scrappy: In-Universe. All of the pets share Spike's dislike of Angel. Even Gummy narrows his eyes at Angel.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Spike gets out of a lot of trouble by throwing his gems around. Train tickets, property damage, mild animal abuse...
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: Spike goes through all sorts of crap to make his jewel cake, only for him to continually have to spend the jewels to get himself out of trouble, until he's only got one left... which he eats prematurely... again.
- Ship Tease: Doubling as Funny Background Event — as Spike gets tied up around the tree, Cherilee and Big Macintosh are walking together down a Ponyville street, eventually disappearing offscreen.
- Spike's little song to himself while he's preparing his cake in the opening is a reference to Bill Cosby's famous "Chocolate Cake for Breakfast" routine. (The reference comes at about the 7:00 mark.)
- As said before, Spike and Angel do not get along.
- The Cutie Mark Crusaders buy an industrial-strength hair dryer.
- Silent Snarker: Owlowiscious can say 'who/hoo' but that's it.
- Skyward Scream: Spike has two.
- Slasher Smile: The CMC before they tickle Spike who won't let them off the train in the Crystal Empire.
- Squashed Flat: Winona is subjected to this by the industrial pet hairdryer. Unlike typical examples, this is shown to be non-injurious and Winona is thoroughly enjoying herself.
- Squee!: Sweetie Belle's reaction to visiting the Crystal Empire.
- Stock Sound Effects: When Spike throws his last jewel to stop Angel at the end of the episode, the accompanying sound might be familiar.
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion:Spike: I have no jewels, I have no cake
I'm a sad little dragon with nothing to—
Spike: ...is it?
- Synchronous Episodes: This episode takes place at the same time as the one four episodes later. The initial airings were rescheduled to put them next to each other.
- Tagalong Kid: The Cutie Mark Crusaders are dragged along on the train ride because Spike needs a chaprone for the pets.
- That Poor Cat: Opalescence yowls several times off-screen.
- This Is Gonna Suck: The moment the Mane Six leave Spike alone with the pets, the dragon realizes this work might be too much for him.
- Tickle Torture: The CMC use this on Spike when he tries to stop them from investigating the Crystal Empire.
- Tsundere: Tank attracts them.
- Watch Out for That Tree!: Spike is dragged into slamming in a tree by Tank and Winona.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Averted. Peewee, Spike's adoptive phoenix from "Dragon Quest", is shown in a series of framed photographs in the library during the Cold Open to have been returned to a set of phoenix parents (presumably his original parents) by Spike. Likely because of an incident involving ice cream and Twilight's mane.
- Wingding Eyes: When Fluttershy shows Spike the Jewel that she was carrying, Spike's eyes turn into the jewel.
- Would Hit a Girl: The male pets when they get into the Big Ball of Violence with Opal and Winona.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Yanked by the "dog" himself. Spike, after having to put up with the pets and having to give away all but one of his gems, unknowingly eats his last gem... again!