Episode Review: My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic (Season 6, Episodes 3) – The Gift of the Maud Pie
When it come to the Friendship is Magic series, their stories regarding sisters have often been some of the most memorable, and well-written episodes.
In Season 4, I was at an impasse regarding which sisters episode I would choose as my second-favorite episode for the season: For Whom The Sweetie Belle Toils, or Maud Pie.
In the end, both episodes tied for the 2nd place slot.
Pinkie Pie’s sister Maud became a highlight of Season 4, and her few appearances since then have all proven to be entertaining, with her dry vocal approach being an interesting contrast to Pinkie Pie’s boisterous tones.
So, after a season opener about newborn foals, I think it was a nice change of pace for the show to slow down a bit, with an episode featuring a few members of the Pie family.
Rarity and Pinkie Pie are both off to Manehattan for a small visit. While Rarity intends to find a new location to open a Manehattan branch of her boutique, Pinkie is here to visit her sister, Maud.
Pinkie does this yearly with her siblings: meeting up with them in various cities, and also doing a gift exchange.
Pinkie is sure she’s found a great gift for her sister this year, but it may come with a hefty price tag…
The tone of this episode took me back to Maud’s first appearance. It could have been so easy just to put her on auto-pilot, but this episode continues to expand on her character.
We get to see a little more of her personality, as well as some skills that may make one question if the Pie family has some extra talents/skills that may be hereditary (or repressed by other family members?).
Boulder the pet rock returns as well, and also makes us question just how much we know about him (at one point, he gets lost!).
Much like Rainbow Dash, trying to make Pinkie entertaining without getting too annoying, can be a tightrope walk.
Here, the writers amp up Pinkie’s emotions to the point that her voice and actions cause many in Manehattan to stop and stare (whether they see her as a possible security threat, is left to our imaginations). Even so, there’s still plenty of little moments that manage to slow Pinkie down enough so that she doesn’t get too manic.
The episode may also be one of the most extensive uses of Pinkie’s party cannon in a long time, and its use as a plot device now has me wondering just where she got it from, as well as just how unique it really is.
With the episode juggling two storylines about being in the big city, it is Rarity’s storefront search that becomes the soft “B-story,” compared to the sisterly “A-story.”
A memorable touch from Maud’s first appearance, was how Rarity was a bit uneasy in her presence, and that is also carried over here…though it seems Rarity is getting a little more accepting of Maud’s personality the more time she spends with her.
The boutique search thread seems to peter off into oblivion, and then is quickly remembered at the end, making it seem a little unneeded in the overall story. This makes me wonder if the story could just have had Pinkie invite Rarity to Manehattan for a little R&R instead, as a way to maybe slow down from the hustle and bustle of running her Canterlot and Ponyville stores.
After being in the rather cold and rather blase tones of The Crystal Empire last week, the colors and environment of Manehattan are a welcome respite.
Manehattan, in the span of a few seasons, has been able to succeed where I feel the Crystal Empire has failed. We have met several denizens of the city, and each episode feels like it helps to open up the sprawling metropolis even more.
Of course, the city still seems to love dabbling in the use of “background jerks” for some of its humor, and the streets still seem to be a bit empty for such a large city.
The main conflict of the episode may put some in mind of the rather blase 3rd season episode, Trade Ya. Though it doesn’t stretch the concept as far as that episode, there are some thoughts and consequences that manage to keep the story rolling.
Last season, many were rather surprised at some of the different facial expressions DHX’s artists added to the Flash animation library. Be prepared for some new ones, as this episode adds a few more to the mix, with most of them associated with Pinkie Pie in a few situations.
The episode also introduces a new pair of writers to the show, with Michael P Fox, and Wil Fox.
Both of them do pretty good with the episode, putting me in mind a bit of G.M. Berrow’s Season 5 episode, The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows (are Pinkie episodes now becoming the norm for new-writer introductions?).
Even though it is enjoyable, the episode isn’t without some little nitpicks.
Notable is a search for a specific gift for Maud, that involves a small, fabricated accessory. Of note is that Rarity herself is good with the sewing machine and creating things…when push comes to shove, couldn’t she possibly provide assistance with this?…or, does her talent mainly extend to major wardrobe items, and not small accessories?
A small scene meant to resolve a gift-search does pretty well at first, but then just snowballs in the third portion of its little story point, almost feeling like the writers had to excise several more searching points down to a quick number of things (most of which will be recognizable to the fandom!).
Watching the episode, I was definitely reminded of last season’s The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows, in that the episode was not perfect, but there was plenty of energy and character work being done, that kept the episode afloat.
And, just like GM Berrow, I’m wondering what Michael and Wil Fox will have for us in store in the future.
Final Grade: B (Final Thoughts: After a major two-part story, this episode is a welcome chance to go a little smaller, with fewer characters. Additional family information is given about Pinkie and Maud Pie, with Rarity acting as a unique middle-pony to the adventures in Manehattan. The circumstances surrounding the presents in this episode are a little flimsy, but there’s enough good will and characterization to keep us interested. Though Rarity does add a point-of-view outside of the Pie sisters, her subplot about finding a new boutique location feels like it could have just been excised in favor of a small vacation in the big city. )