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Episode 36. “Secret of My Excess”: A Roaring Rampage of Greedy Growth

Sunny Fox

1313 views

Spike WANT! – Spike

Sparity doesn’t really get much focus in the show (although the same can’t be said of the fandom) but in this episode it does come into play. So take a seat (on second thought, leave the seat, but sit down in it) and we’ll dive right in.

 

Summary
It’s Reshelving Day at the Golden Oak Library, and Twilight wants no distractions. Unfortunately, it seems at least two of her friends didn’t get the memo: Spike, giggling to himself about a delicious Fire Ruby he has been saving for his upcoming birthday, and Rarity, who has come to the library to get a book on ruffled taffeta capes. Nice Sorcerer’s Apprentice musical reference, there.

Upon seeing the Fire Ruby, Rarity is beside herself with admiration. Ha! I would never let the sight of something beautiful distract me from my goal, I’m focused, I’m…

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Um… what was I saying, again?

Rarity gets an unpleasant surprise when she hears that Spike intends to eat the jewel as a snack, but after seeing her gush over how lovely it is, Spike decides he’d rather give it to her. A surprised and delighted Rarity thanks him profusely and gives him a smooch on the cheek before leaving. Even Twilight comments on how generous a gift it was, and Spike promises never to wash his cheek again.

We cut to Spike’s birthday party a week later, and we see that Spike’s kept to his word and has a rather grimy cheek as a result. Twilight decides the dirt has got to go, and uses her teleportation on Spike to try to pull him close enough to get it gone.

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I’ve heard of a running gag, but this is ridiculous!

The impasse is ended decisively when Pinkie somehow gets teleported in instead. Her arrival allows Twilight to close the distance and sanitize the cheek area. Meanwhile, rest of the Mane Six have arrived with presents, leaving Spike rather bewildered, since he usually only gets one present, from Twilight, and you have one guess what that always turns out to be. Twilight retreats with a sheepish grin. Rarity is also in attendance, having set the Fire Ruby into a golden choker, and again thanking Spike for the gift. She calls it the most generous gift she has ever received, and that it’s inspired her to make capes for all her friends.

Spike hears from Pinkie that the Cakes have something for him as well, and he heads to Sugarcube Corner to get it – a sapphire cupcake. Musing on how nice it is to get non-book presents on one’s birthday, Spike runs right into Cheerilee returning from a shopping trip. After apologizing, and helping Cheerilee to gather her spilled goods, Spike explains that it’s his birthday, leading Cheerilee to give him a hat for her present.

Hitting on a new strategy to gain more stuff, Spike uses the fact that it’s his birthday as a tool to part ponies from their things, getting more demanding as he goes.

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I guess you could call him a “smooth criminal”? B) YEEAAA… no.

Twilight stops him, but only briefly: as soon as her back is turned, he has turned back to gathering. And he’s acting a bit more reptilian than usual…

The next morning, Twilight finds Spike buried under a pile of ill-gotten gains, and a lot bigger, to her consternation. A visit to a pony pediatrician and then the local veterinarian yield no answers. Oddly, Spike is more annoyed by the pediatrician babying him than by the vet treating him like a dog… maybe the writers of Equestria Girls took note? A visit to Zecora finally gets results – Spike is growing up because he is hoarding stuff, a natural trait of dragons, it seems. Unfortunately, it’s a vicious cycle: the more he hoards, the bigger and greedier he gets. (The most popular fan theory is that dragon mothers carefully control this behaviour in their kids in order to avoid what is happening to Spike.) During the explanation, Spike takes all of Zecora's things and books it.

By the time Twilight finds her way back to town, and locates Spike, he is already beyond reasoning, even trying to take Scootaloo’s scooter, and has descended into Hulk speak, such as demonstrated in this entry’s quote above. As Spike’s rampage continues, Applejack gets roped in to help, much to Dash’s amusement.

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"Um... Should I leave you two alone?"

Fluttershy and Pinkie are pulled in, too, and finally, the now gigantic Spike grabs Rarity herself in a reference to King Kong, no less.

Ponyville panics as air raid sirens blear and a few ponies have near misses with Spike’s stomping. Seeking larger and larger containers for his booty (I can weirdly relate) Spike steals the watertower, dropping a wave of water onto Ponyville. Fluttershy and Rainbow try to talk Spike into dropping Rarity, but instead he uses his tail to flail at them, eventually trapping them in Rarity’s ruffled taffeta cape, which tears off and dunks them into the local stream.

The Wonderbolts arrive, driving Spike out of town and up the mountainside first introduced in Dragonshy. He puts all his hoarded items into a cave and then uses the watertower to trap the Wonderbolts, letting out a roar of triumph. Rarity is unimpressed, however, telling him off for (among other things) ruining her cape. This reveals her Fire Ruby, and when she sees that he’s noticed it, refuses to give it to him, because it’s a present from her friend Spikey-Wikey. However, the sight of the Ruby brings back the memory of Spike’s generosity in giving it to her, and undoes the whole transformation – revealing that the rampaging dragon is none other than Spike, but also leaving the two of them in midair. Cartoon physics, what’re ya gonna do?

As they plummet, Rainbow and Flutters grab the torn bit of cape and fly towards them in a race against gravity. Meanwhile, Spike begins to confess his crush to Rarity but she stops him with a gentle hoof to his lips – she already knows what he wants to say. They share a touching moment of understanding… and then die on impact with the ground… Nah, I’m just kidding. :P  Of course Rainbow and Fluttershy catch them, and lower them safely to solid ground.

Spike contemplates the wreckage of the town, and is depressed at what he caused… but Rarity gives him a pep talk, saying that he managed to stop himself in the end, and that he’s her hero, even giving him another smooch. A little later, Spike sends a Letter to Celestia to tell her that he has learned that while it’s good to get presents, the greater joy is in giving gifts to others, while Rarity gives the others their completed capes. The episode irises out on the framed kiss mark on Spike’s cheek… m’wah!

 

Thoughts on the Episode
Let me get this part out of the way. Rarity obtaining Spike’s Fire Ruby is NOT an act of greed on her part. I’ve made this argument when looking at Rarity’s flaws, so I’m disinclined to repeat it here. Feel free to follow the link if you need further convincing, but if anyone were to mention that event as an example of Rarity being greedy or selfish, I can put it no more bluntly: that person is wrong. Objectively wrong. (And I don’t say that very often.) Moving on.

There’s quite a bit of food for thought in this episode, as it relates to Spike. We’ve seen a magically aged Spike in Season 1, and this form doesn’t match that one at all. This is apparently a natural version of growing up for dragons, so the form shown in this episode is probably the “correct” one. One thing the forms agree on, though, is that even as an adult, Spike has no wings. He’s a wingless dragon. That theory was pretty much demonstrated as true if you look for the clues in that S1 episode itself...
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...but at least this gains us some more confirmation.

There’s humour and to spare here. From the visual gags such as Pinkie being teleported in instead of Spike; to the dialogue, such as the “assaulting him with cake” line; to even some more medium aware jokes like the close focus on Twilight and Zecora’s faces in their discussion, which allows Spike to ransack the hut. There is plenty to laugh at. Yet there is still excellent action, and some really touching moments. It’s the great balance of all these different emotional elements that really make this one for the record books.

The characters are also perfectly represented, with Twilight being a firm but caring disciplinarian, Pinkie being funny and energetic, but not overbearingly so, and Fluttershy and Rainbow combo-pleading-demanding Spike to drop Rarity. There’s also Rarity herself, determined to share the generosity that was shown to her by giving something to her friends.

Of course, no review of this episode would be complete without a discussion of Spike’s midair confession. It’s a pretty clear homage to a scene in Spirited Away, even down to the tears “falling up”. It’s also one of the few moments where Spike’s crush on Rarity is given more attention than a quick joke here and there. And wow, does it tug on the heartstrings. It confirms that Rarity is aware of Spike’s feelings, even if she perhaps can’t answer them. As I’ve surmised before, she might be avoiding dealing with it directly in order to protect Spike’s emotions from her inevitable rejection. If one wishes to view that in a positive or negative light, that’s a personal choice. I think she’s doing it for good reasons, not to take advantage of Spike, but that’s just me. This whole confession scene is also a bit of a triumph for Fluttershy and Rainbow, for the former showing she can keep up with Dash when motivated, and for the latter demonstrating her loyalty, speed and quick thinking. That this touching moment leads to no real change in the status quo is more a criticism of later episodes than something that should be used to mark this one down.

It’s interesting that they showed Spike’s memory of gifting the Fire Ruby as different from the earlier scene, because it’s actually very true to life. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but your memory of any one event probably doesn’t mesh particularly well with what actually happened. All memories are more similar to a reconstructed dream of the event than to an objective video record. Odd but true. And the further back the memory lies, the more lies the memory backs. Psychology is so fascinating. But I’m getting off topic.

If there is anything of a flaw in this episode, it’s that Spike’s rampage doesn’t really have any consequences, considering the huge amount of damage caused. Even though Rarity does try to put the best spin on it she can, the truth is Spike very nearly killed ponies, and did cause enough damage that it would be a very taxing thing to fix. A more complete acknowledgement of this would have been a good move. One other gripe could be that the moral, while a good one, seems a bit esoteric. “Tis better to give than to receive”… because receiving things makes you grow to gigantic size and steal things, and giving things away puts things right?

Overall, though, there’s just not much wrong with this episode. I’m sad Junebug doesn’t get any attention, though.

 

Highlights/Quotes

At the party
Rainbow: Don’t you know you get presents on your birthday?
Spike: Well, this the first birthday I’ve had in Ponyville. I usually get just one present. <Noticeably less than enthusiastic> From Twilight. <Even less so> A book.
<A sheepishly grinning Twilight backs away while hiding a covered book behind her back as a bleating SFX plays>

Spike raids Sugarcube Corner
Twilight: Pinkie, stop giving him cake!
Pinkie: I’m not giving him cake! I’m ASSAULTING him with cake!
<Spike grabs all the cakes>
Pinkie: HOW DARE YOU TAKE THE CAKE!?

Rarity takes the gigantic rampaging dragon to task, despite being in its clutches
Rarity: Oh, be quiet. You've got nothing to be proud of. You steal everypony's things, terrorize the town, and use me as a weapon against my own friends! Which, as horrible as it is, I can almost understand because you're a dragon and all. But this! <shows him her cape> This is a crime against fashion!
<Bonus points for Large!Spike making a "blah blah blah" motion with his claw as she's speaking>

The Confession Scene. No more need be said.

 

Pros: One of the best balances of humour, heartwarming and hijinks yet produced by the show; every character is given the respect they deserve; Sparity, while not explored, is acknowledged; good references.
Cons: The moral is somewhat oddly presented; there are no consequences for Spike’s rampage.

 

Final Rating
5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon!

Next time on Dragonball Z Sunny Fox Reviews Season 2, we can look forward to getting some of that good world-building. Until then, as always, stay on the sunny side of life.

  • Brohoof 3


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