Saturday, 17 October 2015

Episode review: "The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows"

Season 5 episode 19
Oh boy, a baby. That's exactly what this show needed.

After last week, where the Cutie Mark Crusaders got their cutie marks, there's probably not a whole lot that this episode could have done to impress, but a second-rate retread of "Green Isn't Your Color" is really disappointing. Pinkie Pie, after discovering that Princess Cadance and Shining Armor* are having a baby, has to keep that a secret from Twilight until the couple arrives. As a result, everything between the theme song and the final few minutes is Pinkie being reminded in increasingly convoluted ways of the secret that she is struggling to keep. This goes on for twenty minutes.

And that's about all there is to say about this one. There's no questionable characterization, no continuity errors, and no signs of ambition or depth, so there's very little to talk about. There's some decent visual humour, I guess, but the episode is insistent in its focus on Pinkie's struggle to keep the secret. It's awkward, and after it's been going on for a couple minutes, it gets really old. This isn't helped by some scenes that go on too long, which often leads to a joke continuing past the point where it stops being funny. This is especially nasty in the final act, where Shining Armor and Princess Cadance finally show up... and the episode then proceeds to go on for a few more minutes. It's punishing. I kinda wish that this episode had led to a lesson that you can't always keep all your promises, but any sort of depth at all would have been nice.

So, yeah, that baby. Cadance has had an increasing number of appearances in the show, but these have largely not been especially meaningful. This is probably the biggest appearance she has had since "Three's A Crowd," and the biggest Shining Armor has had since as far back as his first appearance. There's something a little wrong about giving them a baby after rarely even having them in the same room as each other, I think. I like these characters, but that's more thanks to the comics (where they're adorable) than the show itself, which continuously expresses little interest in them. G.M. Berrow, who's writing on the show for the first time, is also responsible for the My Little Pony chapter books, and has written a backstory for Cadance that I really like the summary of, so I'm kinda dissapointed that, when she does finally appear, she's effectively a nonentity.

Shining Armor gets more speaking lines, which is good given that the show rarely seems to care about him, but that still doesn't really amount to much. I like his excitement about the childhood items that Twilight decorated his room with, particularly because it implies the dorkiness that made him so fun in the comics. I'd still like more, however.

Considering the couple's general lack of presence in the series, it's hard to believe that this royal baby will have a massive impact on the majority of the show. By all appearances, it seems that this event is belated marketing for a toy called "Princess Skyla" that was released two years ago, which guarantees that the baby will probably eventually appear in the show proper. Not really being a fan of babies, this fills me with dread, but maybe-just maybe-the baby won't be annoying. At least, I hope so.

The scene where it's finally revealed to Twilight that she'll be an aunt is neat, and has a certain air of finality that was also possessed by other recent episodes like "Crusaders of the Lost Mark." Technically, though, this doesn't mean something for her unless the writers finally decide to develop her. It's nice to see her being a little dorky again, but this isn't the episode to finally make her compelling again.

Then again, this isn't the episode to make much of anything compelling. The focus on Pinkie keeping her secret is both stale and unenjoyable, and there's very little else to this episode. Almost every other episode of this season tried to fit some sort of depth, but it seems this is the exception. It's revealed early on that Cadance and Shining are having a baby, and then nothing new is introduced from there. It's such a waste, especially after five forward-thinking episodes that, even with some of their own problems, suggested a brighter future for the show than what came before. One bad episode isn't enough to completely break the show's upwards streak, but it's just so disappointing to see this episode slot wasted. There could have been so much more here, but there isn't.

*going by the copyrighted spelling

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