Her Name is Minka, and She Dances on the Sand

I love callbacks! They’re great! They combine comedy with continuity, tickling both the funny and nerdy parts of my brain. But they’re very rare on shows like Littlest Pet Shop and My Little Pony. This is mainly because these shows are structured so episodes can be watched in any order, and even skipped over, so as to not penalize those who are either casual viewers, or just decided to miss an episode or two.

There was a time when making a continuity-heavy show like 24 would’ve been, if not impossible, a fast way to lose viewers. Since missing a single episode would mean missing a large chunk of the overarching story, making the program unwatchable. And missing single episodes is something that’s going to happen on occasion to all but the most dedicated of viewer.

But now, these kinds of programs have become a mainstay of modern television. And it’s all thanks to on-demand services such as TiVo, NetFlix, and whatever online solution the broadcaster wishes to provide. This kind of flexibility allows the viewer to watch a show at whatever time they want. Which wasn’t possible before without a blank VHS tape, a VCR, a computer science degree so you could program the damn thing, and the ability to predict the future so you know when you’re gonna be late.

And that was all assuming the show didn’t get rescheduled that week, or wasn’t delayed by some cheesy sporting event.

So, why are they not more common? Like I said, Littlest Pet Shop and My Little Pony don’t do continuity that often. Generally if a new character appears on a given episode, there’s a good chance we’ll never see them again. And references to earlier episodes are almost non-existent, even when you’d expect a character to do just that.

Rainbow: Come on, Fluttershy! You have to get angry!
Fluttershy: But I’m not angry.
Rarity: Oh, I know, pretend the Mane-iac took your taxi, or stood in front of you in line, or asked for directions…
Rainbow: What?
Rarity: You weren’t there, just trust me on this.

That was cut from the superhero episode.

Then there are episodes where a character learns the same thing they learned in a previous episode. As if they were lobotomized or something in the interim.

On the bright side, this practice seems to be falling to the wayside. On My Little Pony, we had Twilight becoming a princess which closed off the last season and is running throughout this one, the renovation of the castle in the Everfree forest was covered in two different episodes which built off each other, and then there’s the ongoing Equestria Games saga.

But on Littlest Pet Shop, it’s been much more pervasive, as we see characters mention events from earlier episodes on a regular basis. Like the Pet Jet, the Pet Fashion Expo, and Russell’s phasmophobia. And I think it finally reached its peak, on the day the pets take a trip to Rio De Janeiro for the big Brazilian Carnival (car-nih-VAHL) celebrations! Primarily because it feels like a sequel to an earlier episode, and because it just won’t stop it with the callbacks!

It all starts when Blythe gets a phone call inviting her to Brazil. She’s asked to form a samba school, and perform in the Carnival parade. Why? Well, because of her float designs from the Big, Feathered Parade! That’s exciting. I didn’t know they invited people for that. I thought people just signed up on their own. Then again, I’ve never been to Carnival, so I assume it makes sense.

And according to Blythe, she needs seven dancers to compose her samba school. A samba school, by the way, is basically a group of dancers that dance on the street, in the parade. At least it is in this context. A bit of research got me to learn that samba schools are actually much bigger than that. But it works for the context. However, knowing this now, it makes me think that it just doesn’t seem right to allow a foreigner to form a samba school for merely a single day. But it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that this is actually a specially designed parade to celebrate the influence Brazilian culture has had on the world. And they do that by only letting foreigners compete. Hell, Carnival lasts a whole week for crying out loud. This wouldn’t surprise me.

Or, they just made the whole thing up.

So, she needs seven dancers. Thankfully, she has seven pets that she can communicate with, including a monkey who’s an expert at the samba.

That’s right, Minka’s an expert at the samba. How? They don’t explain, and I think it’s funnier that way. Because we get this joke: “Oh, I’ve been down to Carnival lots of times! …In my head.”

Thaaaaaat’s Minka!

So the group forms a samba school, and now has to get there. Time to beg her dad for a plane ride. Which turns out to be easier than expected since he’s already scheduled to go there anyway. Well, that was a coincidence. And the good news is, nothing can possibly mess this up!

Oh, fuck! Not her again!!!

Yes, the irritating and incompetent travel guide from the Paris episode is back, and is planning to take Blythe on a tour of the town, forgetting she’s not there for tourism, but work.

Well, at least it can’t get any worse.

Oh, fucking fuck fuck!!!

Yes, Ramon the fraudster is back. And he is on his knees, begging Blythe for forgiveness.

Ramon: That was my lowest moment! Even lower than right now, when I’m low to the ground on one knee.
Emma: Well, you are still 30,000 feet in the sky.

Okay, Emma, all is forgiven now, just don’t fuck it up.

But Ramon tries to convince Blythe that he is a new man, and has his new pet, Ramona, testify on his behalf.

And her testimony is pretty convincing: “Wee-ee aaaa.” Wait, those aren’t words. I’m sure Blythe should be able to understand the bird. Why can’t she? This is strange, innit?

But of course, with regards to Ramon, I’m all for personal change. Anyone can improve if they put their minds to it. But it still surprises me that Ramon wasn’t black-balled after his stunt in the last episode. The fact that he’s not known as ‘Ramon the fraudster,’ surprises me, just a bit.

But Zoe isn’t as forgiving as I, and tries to find some proof that he’s up to something. So she decides to interrogate Ramona, the bird. Who doesn’t even acknowledge the dog’s existence.

Are we sure this bird wasn’t recently taxidermied?

So they arrive in Rio, and disembark, with Ramon shoving Blythe aside, like a jackass. Zoe voices her distrust, but Blythe eases her fears by saying, “what’s he gonna do?”

Then she notices her luggage is missing. I guess what he’s gonna do is steal your luggage.

Okay, stealing designs, fraud, is one thing. Now he’s advanced to actual theft. Or at least, we assume. Blythe decides to give Ramon the benefit of the doubt, since lost luggage isn’t that uncommon. And I agree. It’s a much more likely scenario. But given the circumstances, one must figure they’d check the security footage. Since airports are some of the most well-surveilled places on the planet, especially after 9/11. If Ramon stole Blythe’s bag, there’d certainly be footage of him leaving the airport with it. But they don’t mention that.

Suddenly, Emma arrives and suggests a trip to the Tijuca Rainforest to distress. But Blythe decides against it, until Minka begs her to reconsider. I got an idea: Have Emma take Minka alone. Then again, you’d probably need Blythe there as a translator.

So, they leave, and with Blythe gone, Zoe decides to track down the damn luggage. But first, she does her best ‘Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive’ impression. Awesome! Then Russell points out they know which room he’s in, so they don’t need to track down Harrison Ford. He couldn’t at least let her finish the joke?

I loved that movie.

So they make it to the Ramon’s room, and Vinnie tries to pick the lock with a hairpin. But it’s an electronic lock.

Then, Ramon emerges, and the pets hide before he can see them. And as he leaves they stop the door from closing by jamming it with a room service tray. And somehow, they do it without him noticing. And during this scene, Penny Ling eats Ramon’s leftover hamburger.

And here I thought pandas were herbivores. But apparently, they can eat meat.

They arrive in the room, and find nothing suspicious… oh, except for this:

Holy crap! It’s Blythe’s luggage! … Is it!? How do they know Ramon doesn’t just have the exact same luggage pattern? Regardless, they go to grab it, but are stopped by Ramona, still as wooden as ever. What’s her deal anyway!? Is she some type of robot!?

Oh… I guess she is. Well that explains a lot.

Yes, a robot bird, and after seeing a robot security guard/driver, an automated home DNA tester, and a holographic projector on this show, I can’t object to a robot bird.

But once Zoe frees her of her charging cable, the robot starts attacking the pets. But in the confusion, they manage to get the luggage, and make a break for it. All the while under Ramona’s mechanical eye.

Meanwhile, Emma and Blythe are lost in Tijuca. But Emma’s not worried, after all, “A great tour guide can find herself out of any situation.” That’s nice Emma, what does that have to do with you? I’m saying she’s a shit tour guide.

And as for Minka, she’s having the time of her life, and so engages in an epic musical number with all the forest dwellers. And I loved it! Had that nice samba beat you just don’t hear enough of… in Canada. I just had to dance! I think I’m warming to these musical numbers.

Anyway, they’re still lost, until Blythe decides to ask for directions.

You can almost hear the butterfly saying, in the snarkiest tone possible, “It’s this way, bitch.”

So the butterfly leads them out, and Blythe arrives back at the hotel, to learn the horrible truth. But despite the fact that they got the luggage back, it doesn’t matter, the damage has been done. Ramon’s likely to steal her designs now, just like last time.

Yeah, that’s probably true. I’m not just saying that because it’s Ramon. I’m saying that because they’re in competition with each other. If another designer sees your designs, I’d say there’s a 50 per cent chance they’re gonna steal ’em… Rarity. Seriously, how the hell could she be that stupid!?

But back to Blythe, since Ramon stole her designs, she has to come up with all new ones, and is quickly inspired by the snarky butterfly, who ended up following them back to the hotel.

She designs and creates the new butterfly-inspired costumes. But are we sure all this is necessary? Come on, Blythe! You haven’t even opened the suitcase! How do you know they didn’t just accidentally steal Ramon’s bags instead? Why are you jumping to such conclusions?

So we then jump-cut to Ramon, watching the security bird footage from the pets visit, and laments the fact that Blythe got her luggage back.

… Oh. Well, that’s less interesting. But Ramon has a Plan B. What could it be?

So with the costumes completed, Blythe arrives at the Sambadrome to claim her float materials. I would’ve thought she’d have to provide her own, but whatever. But it turns out someone else already claimed them. What? So someone just stopped by, said “I want Blythe’s float materials,” and you just handed them over!? What the hell? Oh no, turns out it was someone claiming to be her ‘associate,’ Ramon.

Okay, this is literally robbery. Last time he just stole Blythe’s ideas. Which isn’t technically illegal. It’s immoral, and fucking bullshit, but it’s not illegal. Actually stealing from someone, is. Somehow, he managed to become more of a jackass.

But on that note, he claimed to be her ‘associate’ and they didn’t ask for proof? Didn’t try to confirm it by calling Blythe on her smartphone? Ask if the manic prick with puffy sleeves was a friend of hers? They just took his word for it? Who runs Carnival!? The Three Stooges!?

So obviously, it’s time for Blythe to call the police right? Oh, no, she just mopes and says they’re screwed.

But then, an alternative solution hits her brain.

The fuckin’ hell!? How’d she get her dad to agree to that!? How’d he get the airline to agree to that!? I’m guessing they thought of it as a sponsorship. A form of advertisement.

Meanwhile, the pets are still working on their dancing, and keep fucking up, much to Minka chagrin.

Urge to kill, rising.

Meanwhile, Roger’s trying to get the float/plane to the Sambadrome.

BWAHAHAHAHA!!! Alright! That’s funnier than Blythe Biskit! He’s taxiing an aircraft across city streets. It shouldn’t even be able to fit!

Now, I will admit, I only know this from flight simulators. But, taxiing is not easy. The landing gear doesn’t have motors or engines of any kind. They have shock absorbers and brakes, but that’s about it. And taxiing is also very slow, because if you go too fast, you’ll take off. Planes aren’t designed to taxi, they’re designed to be capable of taxiing.

And that’s why this is hilarious.

Meanwhile, at the Sambadrome, Ramon is gloating like a cunt, and we get to meet his dancers.

Seven robotic birds, because fuck logic.

The parade begins, and Blythe is still without a float. Apparently, Emma got lost. So, Roger slams on the brakes, which would actually be hand brakes on a plane, not foot brakes, and declares it’s time for a different strategy.

Meanwhile, at the parade, Minka’s dancing, alone, for some reason.

I get that the others suck at the samba, but letting your friend dance alone, making a fool of herself, is pretty dickish.

But she’s not alone for long, since the snarky butterfly decided to call a few friends. The same friends from the musical number.

Then the other pets join in, for some reason. I don’t know what changed their mind, but it happened. I guess they noticed they looked even more dickish being the only ones not dancing.

And so, they are instantly awarded first place for the dancing portion. But what about her float? the judge asks. You gave her float to someone else! Did you forget!?

But yeah, the butterfly plane is still absent. Then with perfect timing…

I’m surprised the top wings stayed on.

So Blythe instantly wins first place, since having your float fly in for a perfect landing is enough reason to get first place in anything. And yes, I mean literally anything. You’re in a video game competition, and have a parade float fly in and make a perfect landing, you should win instantly.

But what about Ramon? Well, he got second place, with Blythe’s designs. So, basically, he has nothing since even as a cheater he couldn’t win.

It gets even worse for him once Ramona malfunctions, and Roger mentions that the PetJet is exclusively for real live pets, and their owners; not robots. Though it makes me wonder why Emma’s allowed on, she doesn’t have a pet. And so the episode closes, with Ramon not going to jail, which bugs me slightly.

And really, there’s not much else to say other than: This was awesome! And it’s not just because of the callbacks.

The entire episode was really well-done, and well-structured, and well-crafted, and well-joked. Funny, enjoyable, and gave us a significant number of continuity nods, that I really liked. And there was even a reference to The Fugitive!

In fact, they weren’t simply nods. Like I said, this episode felt more like a sequel to The Big, Feathered Parade. I’m not gonna say they should do this more often, since that would get tiresome pretty quickly, but they shouldn’t hesitate to write follow-up episodes if the opportunity arrises. After all, sequels can be great fun, and they can remind you how everything ties together. Then again, they can also be exploitative shite, that’s only written in some vain attempt to please the fans. But thankfully, that’s not what happened this time.

I wonder if they’re planning on tying future episodes to past episodes more frequently now. Well, only time will tell, won’t it?

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