Ahhhhhhhhhh, good afternoon everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews." First of all, my apologies for not getting this review posted yesterday, I was feeling tired and under the weather by the time I was able to write it so it just wasn't happening last night. That said, I am glad I waited and rewatched the episode, because I now feel much better equipped to review this one than after my initial watch of it. Let's not waste anymore time dawdling about and dive right into "Rock Solid Friendship"!!!
So this review will largely be broken down by character analysis because I believe you can best review it by analyzing the three main characters in it, Pinkie Pie, Maud Pie, and Starlight Glimmer. So to begin, let us start with Pinkie... in this instance, a bit of an elephant in the room. It brings me no pleasure to write this, but upon watching this episode twice I have to say that this was the worst that Pinkie Pie has been written in the show since "MMMystery on the Friendship Express" back in Season 2. Those of you who know me will recall that that is to this day my least favorite episode of the show, so yeah, this does not bode well. The good news is that this episode on the whole is MUCH better than that one, namely because, unlike in that episode, the majority of the characters here are not vapid idiots, completely inconsiderate, or just plain OOC. The bad news is that Pinkie is, and when Pinkie is written badly, she is written BADLY. Pinkie Pie when written as a stereotype of herself is unbearable, and it feels insulting to the character, like the writers have forgotten that, despite being as hyper and energetic as she is, this is a character who has grown so much since the show began. The perplexing news is that really she was only written terribly for the middle 11 minutes of this episode; she's actually alright in the first 5 minutes when the conflict is getting set up and the last 5 minutes when it's getting resolved, it's only when she's creating the conflict that she is horrible. This somewhat makes sense since the biggest reason she was written so badly was simply so that a conflict would exist in the first place (much like in "MMMystery on the Friendship Express") and it is not excusable here anymore than it was there, in fact, even less so since this is Season 7 Pinkie. Not only should she be mature enough by this point not to cause such a bad conflict, it just doesn't make sense for her character on a number of different levels. First, Pinkie Pie has never considered herself to be a "friendship expert," so why does she here? I could see Twilight having that problem, but Pinkie embodied the Element of Laughter from the start, NOT Friendship. She's the fun expert, all things party and social gatherings and get-togethers and jamborees, that is her schtick! Heck, just last week we even saw how this has been a part of how she's grown more mature; she's really got stuff that she's into down to a science at this point, like that list of every pony in Ponyville's favorite desserts, and that just makes sense for a character like her, she should be on top of stuff like that in an over-the-top way that somehow makes sense for her. I don't even care if you use the excuse that this is because it involved her sister, because that brings up yet another reason why her behavior here doesn't make any sense. When has Pinkie ever felt such distrust toward Maud? From the first episode that Maud was introduced, Pinkie has done nothing but adore her and seems to have complete respect for her! If anything else, Pinkie was probably the least aware of anypony else that there was anything unusual about Maud's behavior; she always loved Maud for who she is and never showed the slightest inkling that she understood that others wouldn't get her. Heck, what about what Starlight and Maud were doing together even made Pinkie think they weren't getting along??? THEY WERE FLYING KITES TOGETHER WHEN PINKIE STARTED FREAKING OUT FOR PETE'S SAKE!!! On top of that, she is Maud's YOUNGER sister! We know that Limestone is the oldest of the Pie sisters, followed by Maud, and that Marble and Pinkie are twins, so why in Equestria would Pinkie belittle her older sister like that by being so clingy, protective, and doing just the most boneheaded, obvious behavior in the name of making a friendship work out that could only lead to running it into the ground?! Heck, this type of behavior seems more suited for Applejack than Pinkie Pie, we've seen her go to over-the-top lengths for her family tons of times, especially being protective a ton to Apple Bloom. Again, I don't care if the stakes were that Maud might move to Ponyville, because Pinkie has never even shown that she misses her family so much that she'd do anything for any of them to live by her. I mean, I'm not surprised she was thrilled by the idea, but at the same time, I cannot justify any of Pinkie's behavior in the middle of this episode just because she really, really, really wanted Maud to move by her. So many forced jokes (Lyra is a rock, really Pinkie??? Even when you're losing it I can't believe you'd seriously try something so stupid), so many boneheaded attempts at forcing a friendship to happen, and most of all, an inexcusable and unbelievable lack of faith in her own sister knowing when she'd found a friend, or even being capable of finding one. I get the set-up, I get Pinkie wanting Maud to move by her. And to be fair, the second Starlight pointed out her problem to her (hilariously, I might add) Pinkie realized her errors and resolved to fix them. But that doesn't excuse that a conflict existed when it shouldn't have, and this conflict was very, very, very painfully forced to the detriment of Pinkie. It is especially painful at this point in the show when any of the Mane 6 are written badly in the name of forcing a conflict because it just feels like they are being regressed and infantilized in the name of making a conflict work, especially when supporting characters like Maud and Starlight are involved who DO know FAR less about friendship than the Mane 6 do. Pinkie should have been able to make a healthy contribution to Maud finding a friend, heck, SHE DID when she encouraged Maud to hang out with Starlight, but then for whatever reason the writers decided that she needed to have a hundred brain farts just so a lesson could be learned. It was bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, and I did not like it at all. Pinkie Pie, I'm sorry, but you get an F here, or rather, the writers who botched you do. If you want to see Pinkie Pie losing it in a way that is believable for her character, there are far better episodes to watch that have just that, like "Party of One."
Bad, bad, BAD Pinkie! Very bad!!! Like... just don't... at all... please.
Anddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd... exhaleeeeeeeeeeeeeee. OK, rant over!!! Did you have fun everypony? Cause I sure did!
OK, now that that is out of the way, onto the good parts of the episode. Because yes, unlike the irredeemable "MMMystery on the Friendship Express," this was a good episode all around. Not great, but good, and that is largely because the primary plot point, that being Maud finding herself a friend outside of her family, was executed quite nicely (outside of anything involving Pinkie Pie). First of all, it was pretty awesome and hilarious seeing Maud, oh I'm sorry, Maudalina Daisy Pie (which is amazing) getting her "rocktorate" that opening scene was just gold from start to finish, plus it's just damn cool that a kid's show would acknowledge the existence of doctorates as part of its canon and show a character actually earn one. But on top of that, Maud probably developed here more than she ever has as a character, and I liked that a lot. Really, it was necessary in order for her character to remain endearing at all, because just maintaining the status quo with her would be unbearable. Some of her bits at the beginning were confusing, like I have no idea how she wasn't slightly impressed by Twilight's Castle, even if it was just to be a joke. But all in all, the idea that she'd never found a pony who got her outside of her family was a good one and made sense (though I will ask how the Mane 6 don't qualify as friends for her? I mean, they seem to enjoy her, and they may not entirely get her, but they certainly seem to appreciate her for who she is, it's not like they just tolerate her, I mean, heck, Rarity was thrilled to see Maud and not just because she could help her find a gem!). Best of all, her interactions with Starlight were just plain fun, they had a very solid rapport with each other (I have some issues with some of it but I'll bring that up in Starlight's section). It was especially fun getting more of a glimpse of Maud's sense of humor, as well as insight into why she likes rocks so much while still coming to grips with the fact that rocks aren't enough for her, even if she does love them. I was happy that she's essentially living in Ponyville after this episode, and in a pretty cool new setting too, that underground cavern looked pretty snazzy (and hey, no rent, she basically got herself free real estate, unless of course she did have to buy the land, I wonder if that's the case, I mean, she clearly had to get it registered as a new address, we saw a mailbox there and everything). So even if Pinkie Pie was written so stupidly so as to make Maud look like the more mature of the two (which she was), that doesn't mean that Maud wasn't executed well, she was, very much so. Hopefully we'll get to see more of her around Ponyville now, cause when she and Pinkie have good rapport, they are awesome together.
Finally, we come to Starlight, who was pretty solid as well. I have a few issues, but mostly with just some of the ideas surrounding her presence, not her execution here. First, that flashback connecting Starlight to Maud was as hilarious as it was deliciously evil; I have some problem with the idea that Maud wouldn't be concerned with pointing some pony to an object that could enslave others, BUT the execution was so good and snappy as a joke that I couldn't help but love it for what it was! As I said before, she and Maud have great rapport together and were very fun to see being friends with one another. It didn't feel like Starlight and Trixie do, where those two are clearly BFFs and Starlight very often has something to teach Trixie about friendship, this felt more like just a, ya know, friendship, where two individuals are just happy to share some interests with each other and spend some time together now and then. I like that because sometimes that's all a friendship is, just digging someone's company now and then, and I can also see that being the type of friendship Maud would desire. Although I don't exactly get why both of them said they didn't want to talk about feelings with each other when that's kind of exactly what they did when Maud explained to Starlight why she likes rocks, giving her insight into her own struggles with ponies, but whatever. The bigger issue I had with Starlight's presence was the episode never really explained WHY Starlight gets Maud. And really, why does she? Why does she get Maud and the other Mane 6 supposedly don't? As I said, I'm not quite sure why Maud doesn't even consider the Mane 6 to be friends. Does she think they just like her because she's Pinkie's sister? And again, what about Starlight makes her qualified to get Maud more than others? Sure they've both struggled with making friends, but for totally different reasons. Starlight just felt alone after Sunburst left her when they were younger, she never felt like ponies were judgmental about her. She has even today a fairly grounded and even-keeled personality, and I don't even get why she thought that liking kites was some kind of weird thing she should largely keep to herself (don't get me wrong, that bit with the kites was hilarious and I loved learning that it's something she really likes, but I still don't get why she acted like it was some big secret, I mean, they're kites, sure not everyone is into them but nobody thinks you're weird for liking kites, they're just bucking kites!!!). But overall, Starlight was fine here and had some great chemistry with Maud. I don't want the show to start having her befriend every major supporting character outside of the Mane 6, because I don't want her to develop her own Mane 6 and don't want the show to send some kind of message that "Starlight is better at some kinds of friendships than the Mane 6 are, because... reasons," but this one I can dig because it felt different from a lot of the other friendships Starlight has made. Overall, despite a few nitpicky issues, I really liked seeing little ol' Glim Glam here, and hopefully we get to see more of her, Maud, and their kites in the future!
Oh, also, I completely agree with Starlight, jalapeno-red velvet-omelet-cupcakes sound terribly disgusting, c'mon Pinkie, what're you even thinking???
These two, I totally dig these two
A few extra notes to wrap things up. What was up with that Rarity scene? Like, all of it. What was up with it? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy did Rarity freak out when Maud told her that all of the gems there were common gems? I figure Rarity might know more about gems by this point than even Maud, and it seems like in Equestria that gems grow almost as common as apples, so it seems like a ton of gems would be common. I mean, she couldn't bedazzle the s*** out of so many dresses if they weren't. On top of that, there were so many gems in that cave that how could they not be common??? I mean, it was literally covered in gems ground to ceiling, there's no way they could be anything but common! I don't know, this is a nitpicky point, but it bugged me, because if gems were supposedly rare, it seems like Rarity would rather sell them then go to the trouble of putting so many on dresses. But in this world, I've never gotten that impression about gems, heck, Rarity's not even the only one who puts them on dresses, that's how common they seem to be in Equestria, so I have no idea why she was on the verge of tears when Maud told her that, even if it was for laughs. Confusing scene overall and in the end it had no major impact on the episode.
The bit with Lyra and Bon Bon, while obnoxiously stupid as far as Pinkie Pie's contribution goes, was pretty hilarious on their end. Lyra's terrified face was too funny and she just seemed so confused by what was going on (although oddly accepting of the idea that she was supposed to be a... rock, but hey, I guess that's just how scared ponies get of angry Pinkie), and Bon Bon looked so terribly annoyed at Pinkie (plus I'm not surprised that she wasn't taking any of her s*** either, I mean, she was a monster-hunting secret agent at one point). The return to Ghastly Gorge and seeing the Quarray Eels make another appearance were both cool callbacks to Season 2, though I refuse to believe that Maud wasn't aware they were there when she was looking into moving there, she's too smart not to have thought of that.
"Find your own mint pony, ya pink menace!"
Finally, most importantly of all, DERPY HOOVES, BEST PONY FOREVER AND GREATEST GEM THIS SHOW HAS GIVEN US TO DATE, made her first appearance of Season 7, and it was most enjoyable indeed! She first showed up when Maud and Starlight were in the market, just walking around, but then she had her own little bit when Pinkie Pie threw a pizza at her and she gleefully chased after it (hey, at least she got a free pizza out of Pinkie Pie's stupidity, that's more than most ponies can say in this episode about what they got from Pinkie's OOC behavior)! I look forward to seeing more of best pony this season, and cannot wait for Derpy's next appearance.
I apologize for all of these upcoming pics but I just had to post this as a sequence...
Ha ha, best pony has pizza and you do not, BE JEALOUS, FEEL ENVY!!!
Overall, this was the first episode of Season 7 that, for me, was just good. It wasn't great, it wasn't terrible, maybe it wasn't even very good, but it was solidly just good, and given how bad Pinkie was here, it really should be commended for even being that good. I did care about what was happening, I liked what ended up happening, and ultimately something was accomplished, Maud has a friend and lives adjacent to Ponyville, good stuff overall, even if the road there wasn't entirely smooth. That's all I've got for you this time folks, until next time everypony, this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit*
HOLY S***, BUCK YES!!!