Haven’t we been down this road before?
The most important thing to remember about celebrations, like birthdays and anniversaries, and weddings, and other things, is to remember who they’re for. It’s not about the host, it’s about the guest of honour. It’s important to remember that, otherwise you’re just jerking off.
And there’s no better jerker than Pinkie Pie, who plans celebrations based on what she loves, not necessarily what others love. Of course, with her friends, who share mostly similar interests, it has worked. But back during the old royal wedding, that wasn’t the case.
If you remember, Cadence expressed a certain amount of disdain at Pinkie’s design choices, and she didn’t really notice. Alright, it was actually Evil Cadance, but no one knew that.
My point is, either Pinkie didn’t notice that the bride didn’t like it, or she didn’t care. Neither one is good. And she’s supposed to be our expert party planner? I guess so.
I think the problem was, Pinkie’s never been taken out of her comfort zone. She was never challenged in any way. She always threw the same parties, over and over again, and no one questioned it. No one bothered to criticize her work. Oh, I’ve certainly been down this path before.
Party planning is an art, isn’t it? There’s certainly an artistry to it, I must say. And like any art, one must be challenged, and criticized on their work in order to get better. But that can only happen if you have colleagues that can do the job. And Pinkie doesn’t. This also means she has no competition. Which explains why, when competition actually enters the town of Ponyville. She doesn’t take it well.
What!? A free market!? That’s not on!
This competition is known as Cheese Sandwich, played by someone named Alfred Yankovic. Apparently he’s done a lot of musical work in the past. Good for him.
I’m kidding, of course I’ve heard of Weird Al! I grew up in the 90s! Couldn’t avoid the nut! Two songs that pop into my head are ‘Fat’ and “Amish Paradise.” But that’s only because I’m a big Michael Jackson fan, and I had a friend who really liked that second song. But he’s never done anything that’s blown me away. And after watching his appearance here, he still hasn’t.
Here’s what we know about Cheese Sandwich. He’s a travelling party planner with the same precognitive abilities as Pinkie Pie. He goes from town to town, planning parties while doing his best Clint Eastwood impression.
And so, he arrives in Ponyville on a very special day, as Rainbow Dash is about to celebrate her birthday! Everyone’s excited to have another pony, who can help make the celebration even bigger. But for some reason Pinkie interprets their excitement as: Yay, now Pinkie can fuck off, cause we hate her!
And since Pinkie sees someone who’s apparently better at party planning than her, she retires, and starts to look for a new job.
So the message here kids: If you’re not the best at what you do, you should just quit!
Bullshit! You should work harder to get better! This should get Pinkie to strive to plan an even better party than Cheese could even dream of! Hire the Wonderbolts! Get them to put on a big show! That’ll take him down a notch!
Or, you could just be happy being second best. Now you’re the number two party pony!
And on that note, I don’t think he’s better, he’s just bigger, and he spends more money. That’s not necessarily ‘better!’ It reminds me of the U.S. Military. They claim to be the world’s greatest fighting force. No, they just have the biggest guns! You don’t have to have great aim if you’re using a nuclear bomb!
But since every job she tries ends in failure and trips to the hospital, there’s really nothing left. So, after being inspired by several framed photos of her favourite parties, including the one that got her her cutie mark…
… Strange, I thought she only had two sisters. Who’s that in the bottom right!? I don’t recognize her. Let me guess, she’s the bitter teenager who stayed in her room cutting herself, until all the joyous music pissed her off so much that she came down to yell at them, then Pinkie drugged her and they took the photo.
I’m sticking to that story, it’s canon now.
Anyway, the photos inspire her to get back out there and get her title back, because fuck that guy, trying to usurp her position!
She challenges him to a goof-off, which I’m pretty sure she just made up. The winner gets to plan Rainbow’s birthday, and the loser… doesn’t. Oooo… high stakes.
Better idea: the loser gets run out-of-town on a rail! How’s that!?
Twilight acts as referee, since she has a goof-off rule book (da hell!?); and Rainbow acts as judge, which she isn’t exactly comfortable with.
And I understand. This wouldn’t be the way I’d want to spend my birthday either.
But no one notices. No one says, “Rainbow, you sure you’re comfortable with this?” Not even our expert party planners notice. Their own party planning rivalry overshadowed the party they were supposed to plan. Which isn’t good. And as I’ve said, we’ve been down this road before… on a different show.
Last season, Littlest Pet Shop covered this same theme, as Zoe and Pepper fought over which kind of party they should throw for Penny Ling. And it ended in almost exactly the same way. Because eventually, Pinkie realizes that Rainbow is uncomfortable. Particularly after she gets shot in the face by an industrial-strength party cannon, and crushed by a giant pinata!
So she immediately calls off the competition, because she’s sane. Just as a weird glowing effect appears in her eyes.
Huh… where have we seen that before!?
So as she forfeits the competition, everypony’s confused. Even Rainbow Dash, who you’d think would be more relieved than anything.
“We’re done!? Yes finally, I don’t think my spine can take any more abuse!”
So as Pinkie is just about to leave town because of reasons, Rainbow and the others stop her because… well, she’s being an idiot! Why leave town!? I guess for the same reason Applejack sold the farm to the Flim-Flam Brothers back in season 2. Wow, that’s going back a ways.
Then Cheese shows up, and makes a confession. Apparently, the story he told of his origins earlier in the episode were a fucking lie. In reality, he was inspired to get into party planning because he stumbled across one of Pinkie’s own parties back in the day. Because of this, he decided to return to Ponyville to impress his hero, and he obviously fucked it up.
So with everything patched up, it’s time for the big party, and it is fucking big!
Bit overkill, but whatever.
We get a big dance number.
… and a big cake!
Where we learn Rainbow Dash is at least 21 years old, but it’s likely that there are a few more candles on the other side, so she’s probably in her 30s.
And with the party coming to a close, so does the episode.
If I could make one complaint: Lay off the shitty musical numbers!
Yes, they were shitty, all of them were shitty! No more shitty! We had a total of six, and they all sucked! I hated it!
Alright, that’s not entirely true. Pinkie’s Lament, where she mopes and cries about losing her purpose in life, was really sad, and I really liked it. Primarily because it felt necessary. The only way to express that kind of emotion was through the medium of song. Just having her say she was sad, well… I doubt that would’ve been enough.
Then there’s Make a Wish, the big finale. And like the flash mob scene from Equestria Girls, and Love is in Bloom from the wedding episode, it didn’t feel odd, or out-of-place, since it made sense in context. Of course they’d be singing, and dancing, it’s a party! That, plus the fact is that the song was actually good.
The rest of the musical numbers? Well, I don’t think it was necessary to make them musical numbers, that’s part of the problem. That is, with the possible exception of the goof off scene, where the music probably was necessary, but the scene itself was just all-around stupid. And such stupidity came to a head when àpropos of nothing, this happened:
That’s right, in the middle of an animated show starring talking sentient ponies, they decided to pop in two extremely out-of-place live-action scenes. And I’m extremely annoyed by this because it’s not even a joke. It’s not funny, and it makes no sense! Just for some reason, they’re now in live-action for two brief scenes. It’s just a pointless non-sequitur.
And the most disappointing thing about the episode, didn’t even start with this episode.
You see, since the season started, a few episodes ended with a character’s eyes shining with rainbows, before they get a gift that also shines with rainbows. And I think this shining rainbow thing is part of the arc that was hinted at, at the start of the season. Actually, it wasn’t simply a hint, it was outright stated by the episode’s writer! Which is a problem, because if I’m right, this is not an arc!
An arc is a single story that spans multiple episodes. The episodes don’t have to be concurrent, but the plots have to tie together and build off what came before. Here, the plots don’t tie together. Instead, the plots fit the same stand-alone structure they always have, just with gifts given and things glowing. And the reason the gifts were given don’t even make sense! Why exactly did Coco give Rarity a roll of thread of all things!? Why did Spitfire give Rainbow a Wonderbolts badge!? And why did Cheese give Pinkie his rubber chicken!?
It’s unexplained. It doesn’t make sense in context. And it’s just one single out-of-place scene that contributes to the ‘arc.’ Obviously these ‘gifts’ are totems that are going to transform into keys in one of the final episodes, in order to unlock the Harmony Chest, which, by the way, has gone mostly unmentioned since.
If you want to talk arc, the only episode that really fit was Castle Mane-ia, the one that came immediately after. The entire reason Twilight was even in the castle, was to research the Harmony Chest. It built off the previous episode. This episode didn’t build off anything!
Then again. At least the glowing hidden key is something. At least it’s better than having something hinted at in episode one, and not have it actually pay off until episode last with nothing in between. Which is a step up from last season, let me tell you. And since My Little Pony is supposed to have a watch-in-any-order structure, a proper arc, the way I want, is probably not feasible. This might be the most we’re getting in the long run. Too much continuity can alienate the target demographic, which is just not on. And I understand, a bloated continuity can feel quite overwhelming. You don’t want comprehension of any one story to rely on knowing 50 years of continuity. This is why I don’t read comic books, or watch old Doctor Who.
But that being said, it’s only a 26 episode season, not a 695 episode series of rubber suits and wobbly sets. But the target demographic probably has a lower standard for this kinda thing. Then again, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen other kids shows make heavy use of continuity. Thundercats comes to mind. Then again, I stopped watching that show after the second episode because I found it tiresome. Also, it’s Japanese, so…
I guess my point is: calling this an arc is generous. And it does feel a bit shoehorned. I think they should’ve tried to come up with an in-story reason for these items to exist, but they didn’t. The reason for the gifts is external to the universe. They were given because it was necessary for the story to proceed. It’s like Star Wars. Why exactly did Anakin and Padme fall in love? So they could give birth to our heroes from the original trilogy. That’s why! And that’s not a reason!
But overall, I’d rank the episode as mediocre at best. Enjoyable enough, but not one I’d recommend. And yes, it might be memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.
Seriously, the fuck did I just watch!?