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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S8 E3 "The Maud Couple"

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This is not a photoshop. Maud really is smiling.
Written by Nick Confalone
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After enjoying an evening of Maud's stand-up comedy, Pinkie asks Maud about getting together the next day to prepare for her upcoming birthday, knowing that she's been busy the last few nights. Maud agrees. However, when Pinkie comes by the next day, Maud is nowhere to be seen. Thinking Maud is playing hide-and-seek, Pinkie looks everywhere for her, and ends up in Starlight Glimmer's room. Starlight suggests that Pinkie should just continue the birthday plans and get the cake before the store closes.

At the store, Pinkie becomes irritated with a stallion that is taking a rather long time just to decide how to say goodbye to the store clerk. Pinkie manages to get him out of the store, but by then, the clerk's on her own lunch break. Annoyed, Pinkie leaves to find Maud waiting outside. Maud apologizes for not being there for Pinkie and explains that she now has a boyfriend, and introduces Pinkie to Mudbriar, the stallion Pinkie just met.

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Pinkie learns that Mudbriar is just as obsessed with sticks as Maud is with rocks, the pair having met at a petrified wood show which included both their interests. Despite her efforts at being friendly, and Maud's assurances that he makes her very happy, Pinkie cannot get used to Mudbriar's mannerisms and finds herself perplexed and annoyed by his relationship with her sister. Starlight advises Pinkie to spend some time with Mudbriar planning Maud's birthday party to get to know him better, since they both clearly care about Maud and that commonality might help them bond.

In Pinkie's party cave, she and Mudbriar come to a disagreement about Maud's preferences — most importantly, Mudbriar is certain that Maud doesn't like surprise parties at all. Pinkie, growing further irritated, takes Mudbriar to where Maud and Starlight are flying kites and asks Maud directly about how she feels about surprise parties. Maud says she likes them, but only because they bring Pinkie so much happiness. Realizing that Mudbriar was right, Pinkie runs off, believing she's no longer Maud's "best sister friends forever". She travels to her family's rock farm to get away from Maud and Mudbriar, and talks to Limestone and Marble about how Maud's been behaving around him. Limestone offers Pinkie a metaphor, that Mudbriar is like a geode — Pinkie may only see the outer blandness of Mudbriar's personality, but she should know that Maud sees something within him that she likes.

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Inspired, Pinkie returns to Ponyville and makes amends with Mudbriar, and offers to listen to his advice for Maud's party. Later that day, the rest of the town gathers for the party, while Maud, Mudbriar, and Pinkie watch from afar, as Pinkie decided to hold a surprise party that Maud didn't have to attend, based on Mudbriar's advice. Maud declares it is the best party she's had.


Tropes:

  • An Aesop:
    • If your loved one has a boyfriend (or girlfriend) who makes them truly happy and cares for them in return, make an effort to get along with them.
    • Limestone also gives one regarding that liking someone is about admiring them for their best qualities, despite their exterior flaws and quirks.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Mudbriar points out that Pinkie's "olive branch" is actually "a Quercus, most likely castaneifolia" (a.k.a. a chestnut-leaved oak). But the leaves on the branch don't match Q. castaneifolia leaves at all, as castaneifolia leaves are narrow and blade-shaped with very shallow, saw-like indentations along their edges, while the stick Pinkie was holding had the deeply lobed leaves that people associate with oaks. On the other hand, they are a pretty good match for Q. cerris x castaneifolia (a.k.a. the hybrid of turkey oak and chestnut-leaved oak).
  • Birds of a Feather: Maud and Mudbriar are so alike it's scary. They both have narrow-minded obsessions with rocks and sticks respectively, they both have a dry sense of humor, and they're both Literal-Minded and have No Social Skills.
  • Black Comedy Burst: When Limestone gives Pinkie advice on how to accept Mudbriar, using a geode as an example, Pinkie thinks the point of the lesson is to crack open Mudbriar like a rock to understand him better. Limestone quickly informs Pinkie that it is just a metaphor. Credit to Pinkie though, she actually realizes the literal interpretation makes no sense even before Limestone explains that it's a metaphor.
  • Brick Joke: Pinkie is introduced to Mudbriar while he is spending time thinking whether to say "Goodbye" or "See you later" to a shop clerk. When Pinkie runs off in frustration after trying to determine if Maud likes surprise parties, Mudbriar spends a few seconds before stating "See you later". (Considering that he took "See you later" as a chance to meet again, this is a bit more heartwarming than sarcastic.)
  • Busman's Vocabulary: In the midst of Pinkie's Group Hug, Limestone says that Pinkie is "crushing [her] to gravel."
  • Call-Back:
    • Maud being a stand-up comedian was brought up in "Rock Solid Friendship". She and Starlight also fly kites together, just as they did in that same episode.
    • Pinkie mentions searching Discord's dimension for Maud. She accidentally went there in Issue #57 of the comic series.
    • Pinkie's Party-Planning Cave is seen again.
  • The Cameo: Other than the rest of the Mane Six's visions in Pinkie Pie's mind, their physical appearances in this episode are all only non-speaking cameos at the end, which takes place at Maud's party.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Maud announces she has a boyfriend right after Pinkie has a lengthy run-in with a difficult, obnoxious stallion that's totally unrelated to anything else in the narrative. No points for guessing where this is heading.
  • Circling Birdies: After Pinkie Pie surprises Mudbriar by opening the trapdoor to her Party Cave, he's seen at the bottom of the slide with circling stars around his head.
  • Companion Cube: Much like how Maud has her pet rock Boulder, Mudbriar has a pet stick named Twiggy.
  • Complexity Addiction: One of the few ways Mudbriar contrasts with Maud. While Maud's words tend to be short and sweet, he can't seem to go one conversation without going off on a lengthy tangent about proper terminology. His "vision board" even reflects this, being an elaborate Mental World to recall something rather simple.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Starlight's friendship mirror is seen in her room.
    • Pinkie yells "Oh come on!" in frustration, calling back to Sweetie Belle's cry in Hearts and Hooves Day.
    • There is also a picture in Starlight's room of "No Equals Signs". It looks like Starlight doesn't want a relapse of The Cutie Map.
    • Pinkie visits Yakyakistan and Ghastly Gorge during her search for Maud.
  • Delayed Reaction: Pinkie Pie is disagreeing with Mudbriar that her sister Maud wouldn't like surprise parties, so they ask her...
    Maud Pie: I like surprise parties...
    Pinkie Pie: Hmmmm.
    Maud Pie: ...because I know they make you happy when you throw them for me.
    Pinkie Pie: See? [beat] Wait, what?
  • Disapproving Look: Marble glares at Limestone when she interrupts Pinkie's explanation of why she came home in the middle of the night to tell them to get to work.
  • Dropping the Bombshell: Maud Pie revealing to Pinkie that the reason she's been so busy lately is that she got a boyfriend. You get the feeling she's been trying to tell her that for a while now, but it isn't easy for Maud to open up, nor is it easy to get a word in edgewise with Pinkie Pie.
  • Face Palm: Pinkie does this out of frustration when her third attempt at "starting over" with Mudbriar is met with the exact same reply as her previous attempts.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: When Pinkie cheers about her sister being in love, Maud uses the word "technically", just as Mudbriar did during his introduction.
  • Floating Advice Reminder: After wondering if it's Opposite Day, Pinkie hallucinates the rest of the Mane Six as ghostly floating heads.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Mudbriar's impressionable appearance alone foreshadows this isn't the last we've seen of him, especially when Pinkie thoughtlessly shoos him out the door with "See you later" (a farewell that implies they'll see each other again).
    • When Pinkie Pie runs off after she decides Maud doesn't need a "best sister friend" anymore, Mudbriar calls out to her "see you later", a greeting which implies they'll see each other in the near future (see Meaningful Echo).
  • Funny Background Event: Pinkie pops out of a construction pony's hat, then disappears, then pops out of a nearby barrel. Behind her, the construction pony walks away, clearly freaked out by what just happened.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
  • Hammerspace: Mudbriar produces Twiggy out from his side, despite lacking anything to keep it in.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Despite her bad attitude, Limestone manages to give Pinkie some healthy advice on how to understand Mudbriar better, explaining how Pinkie sees him one way while Maud sees him another, and even if Pinkie never sees him the way Maud does all that matters is that Pinkie understands what he means to Maud.
    • It's also worth noting that, while she didn't say a word, Marble was the one who convinced Limestone to go through with the explanation at all.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Pinkie dislikes Mudbriar on the basis he's a strange, monotonous, and unsociable pony with a weird fixation on wood. Never mind the fact Maud is the exact same way (subbing rocks for wood), as Starlight points out.
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: When Pinkie starts cheering about Maud being in love, Maud states that she and Mudbriar are more "in like" at the moment.
  • Insistent Terminology: Mudbriar. He takes a long time deciding to say either "goodbye" or "see you later" to a shop clerk (since "See you later" implies an event in the near future wherein they would see each other again, and "goodbye" expresses good wishes where parting or at the end of a conversation). He also tells Pinkie that her Party-Planning Cave is actually a cavern, due to the speleothems growing from the ceiling, and later points out that her "olive branch" is actually a Quercus. He seems somewhat aware that others see his insistence on various terminologies as off putting, but as he notes:
    Mudbriar: I will not apologize for speaking with precision.
  • Instant Wristwatch: Upon first meeting Mudbriar and urging him to speed up, Pinkie points to a blue wristwatch that suddenly materialized on her foreleg.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mudbriar speaks largely in belittlements, even after he and Pinkie bury the hatchet. He also utterly adores Maud, and his more redeeming qualities tend to come through when he's speaking to or about her.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Pinkie gets to experience a Maud-like personality minus the "awesome sister" filter she applies to her. Suffice to say, it drives her as nuts as Maud tends to drive others.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The title is a reference to the Neil Simon play, The Odd Couple, as well as its subsequent film and television adaptations.
  • Meaningful Echo: Mudbriar calling out "See you later" to a retreating Pinkie Pie implies he hopes to see her in the near future.
  • Meet Cute: Maud and Mudbriar apparently met over a display of petrified wood at a rock show.
  • Mental World: Mudbriar has a "mind palace" where he has all the facets he knows about Maud. Visually, this is shown to the audience à la Sherlock-type interface, though Pinkie herself cannot see it.
  • Not So Stoic: Mudbriar is mainly just as stoic as Maud is, but when Pinkie attempts to hit a piñata with a stick he very obviously blanches in offense.
  • Ocular Gushers: Pinkie Pie starts crying two streams of tears while hugging Limestone and Marble, drenching her sisters' heads.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Done a lot by Pinkie Pie while she's looking for Maud. Including in the most incongruous of places, like under a pony's hard hat, beneath a yak in Yakyakistan or inside the Ghastly Gorge.
  • Opposite Day: Incredulous at the thought of Maud liking Mudbriar, Pinkie wonders if it's Opposite Day and she just didn't notice. Then she imagines the rest of her friends, each saying something wildly out-of-character for them.
  • Overly Long Gag:
    • Pinkie Pie yelling "A WHAT?!" repeatedly in hammier and hammier ways, and Maud answering "A boyfriend." in the exact same deadpan tone each time.
    • And shortly after, Pinkie saying "You?" again and again in disbelief, and Mudbriar responding with a dispassionate "M'yes." every time.
  • Pie-Eyed: Pinkie's mental projections of her friends are drawn this way: solid colored pupils with a wedge cut out.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: This episode debuts a new opening sequence, featuring the Friendship School students from the season premiere and several supporting characters that have appeared through the series.note 
  • Restrained Revenge: Despite holding a grudge seems to be very much against Pinkie's character, one can't help but see her sending Mudbriar toppling down a trapdoor and a slide into her party-planning cave as passive-aggressively getting back at the stallion for the earlier frustrations he caused.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Pinkie isn't fond of Mudbriar's stoic attitude and mannerisms, despite her sister Maud's own personality being similar to his. Case in point, when Maud and Mudbriar take out their pets to play, they marvel at the fun they have together. Pinkie, however, whispers to Maud that Twiggy is just a stick even though Boulder itself is just a rock. When Starlight points this out to her, Pinkie retorts that Boulder has "ten times the personality of some random stick!" Similarly, Pinkie thinks Starlight is joking when she points out that Maud is undeniably awkward and strange just as Mudbriar is.
  • Ship Sinking: Maud gaining a boyfriend shoots down any pairing she previously had.
  • Shout-Out: Mudbriar is an uptight, asocial male character who catalogues facts in his "mind palace".
  • Shown Their Work: From the shape of the leaves, the stick that Pinkie offers Mudbriar is in fact a Quercus — though actually a hybrid between castaneifolia, which he guesses, and cerris. In layman's terms, just a twig from a random oak tree.
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy:
    • Limestone tries to make Pinkie understand what Maud sees in her boyfriend by using a geode as an analogy. Pinkie initially thinks she should break Mudbriar open like a rock.
    • Played With by Mudbriar when he points out that Pinkie's peace offering isn't a literal olive branch, but accepts it in the spirit in which it is offered.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Mudbriar and Maud's centers of interest are... sticks and stones, respectively.
    • Mudbriar's annoying habit of correcting other ponies on every little thing makes him a stickler for accuracy.
  • Stepford Snarker: Limestone admits she feels miserable all the time, and implies through immediate denial that she's jealous Maud got a boyfriend first and wants one herself.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: When Pinkie reveals that Maud has a boyfriend, Limestone says apropos of nothing that she's not jealous.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: Pinkie Pie travels all the way to Yakyakistan while searching for Maud and makes it back to Ponyville just as quickly. Later, she arrives at her family rock farm, handwaved by mentioning she arrived during the night and woke up there the next day. She leaves to be back in Ponyville just in time to create Maud's party.
  • Verbal Tic: Mudbriar has a habit of starting sentences with "Technically...", which starts to rub off on other ponies.
  • Visual Pun:
    • Mudbriar's cutie mark is a stick standing up in a mud puddle, a literal "stick in the mud".
    • To make peace with Mudbriar, Pinkie offers him an actual olive branch. Although technically, it's a quercus.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Pinkie is baffled that Maud could actually like Mudbriar. In this case, Maud and Mudbriar really are a perfect match, due to their near-identical personalities, and Pinkie's the only one who can't see this.
  • When She Smiles: This episode features Maud smiling more than she has in any previous episode. At various points she also breaks a bit from her usual monotone speech.

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