Good afternoon, everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! This week, we've got a flawed but still solid addition to Season 7, starring Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash in a fun little romp where the insanity and hilarity that unfolds (and the entertainment we derive from it) is probably more important than the lesson itself. It's a curious episode, not because what it does is particularly unique, because it isn't; in fact, this episode seems to quite deliberately lift from a number of past Pinkie Pie episodes (down to the name title itself if it can be believed, considering the episode is called, after all, "Secrets and Pies" and "Secrets and lies, it's all secrets and lies!" was something Pinkie was quite fond of proclaiming in "Party of One") to the point that it could accurately be described as a spiritual successor of not one, but TWO past Pinkie Pie episodes (and oddly enough, an improvement of one of them). It's also strange in that most of its execution in its first two acts (and the first half of the third act) are far more satisfying than its actual resolution, which leaves something to be desired. In any case, while it's hardly one of the more exceptional episodes we've gotten so far in the stellar seventh season of MLP, it is a very fun and likable one all the same, and fun romps involving Pinkie Pie going crazy are always a lot of fun if executed well, which this one is for the most part. Without further ado, this is "Secrets and Pies"!
Hey now, I'm the one who makes Batman references around these parts!
OK, in all seriousness, this Adam West Batman reference is as delicious as Pinkie Pie's pies look
So, starting with Pinkie Pie herself, just what two past episodes of hers does this episode draw from, if not act as a continuation of? Strangely enough, her best Season 1 episode and her worst Season 2 episodes (the latter being my least favorite episode of MLP until "Hard to Say Anything" came out this season): "Party of One" and "Mmmmystery on the Friendship Express." The "Party of One" similarities are fairly blatant right from the start; while her ire in that episode was directed at most of her friends, Rainbow Dash in particular had a hard time avoiding her near the end of the episode, and here we have Pinkie Pie, what else, freaking out as a result of something involving Rainbow Dash. Her freakout also stems from a supposed betrayal, the difference between the two episodes being that in "Party of One" the betrayal was in Pinkie Pie's imagination and her friends were really just planning a surprise birthday party for her, whereas here, the betrayal was actually real and not something she concocted, even if some of what Pinkie Pie imagined about it was exaggerated. Hell, even the fact that Gummy acts as Pinkie's confidant during many of her scenes is similar to "Party of One." As far as similarities to "Mmmmystery on the Friendship Express" go, as in that episode, Pinkie Pie has a mystery to solve, and she has to apply logic and sound detective work to figure it out. The differences between these two episodes is that (1) in "Mmmmystery on the Friendship Express" the mystery itself and the fact that it couldn't get solved quicker than it did all stemmed from Pinkie Pie and most other characters in the episode either acting like idiots or stupid, selfish jackasses without any self-control for the simplest of things, and (2) Pinkie Pie didn't need Twilight or anypony else holding her hoof as she solved the mystery, nor did she present idiotic theories about what actually happened to large groups of ponies as though that was what actually happened. She may have at one point come up with the notion that Rainbow Dash was turning into some kind of demonic entity and blasting her pies with laser eyes, but the only character she shared that with was Gummy, and it was just a part of her bigger theory that Rainbow Dash (based on her findings) really didn't like pies, and had been lying to Pinkie Pie that she liked pies and finding ways to get rid of hers for years (which was actually true). She may still have been silly and over the top, but oddly enough, Pinkie Pie solved this mystery completely on her own, showing she'd actually learned a lot about applying logic and reason in solving something like this since the idiocy of "Mmmmystery on the Friendship Express."
So yes, as should be clear by now, the episode revolves around Pinkie Pie's discovery that Rainbow Dash doesn't like pies (including hers) and has been lying to Pinkie Pie about this for years, and her subsequent reaction to that. Basically things unfold as you'd think they would if you've been watching this show long enough: Pinkie Pie freaks out when Rainbow Dash throws out a pie she baked for her behind her back, starts digging a little deeper and finds enough solid evidence to suggest she's done this with every pie Pinkie's ever given her, and subsequently freaks out and starts trying to get Rainbow Dash to either eat one of her pies in front of her or admit that she's been lying to her this whole time. As you can imagine, this involves a lot of hilarious and crazy antics, but strangely enough you quickly realize that Pinkie Pie's not really the antagonist here, nor does she have to learn a lesson. If anything, I found myself quite anticipating Rainbow Dash getting her comeuppance when she was finally exposed as a liar in this regard (one reason the resolution actually felt a little unsatisfactory), and the fact that the writers showed what started years ago for Rainbow Dash as a white lie/fib spiraling out of control into something neither she nor Pinkie Pie had any control over from the point of view NOT of the one who was telling the lies (RD) but rather from the pony directly affected by the lies (Pinkie Pie) was interesting. When I think about it, it's a little more unusual for the character lied to to be at the center of a story like this about the negative effects of white lies/fibs that grow out of control than it is for the character doing the lying to be front and center, but I liked how they did it here, especially considering it was Pinkie Pie front and center. The way she reacts to betrayals, just how crazy and emotional she can become when something like this happens, drove home the fact that, even if Rainbow Dash had good intentions, it still didn't mean that her lying to Pinkie Pie was overall a good thing. Her lying to her friend hurt Pinkie Pie very much, and made her question the trust she had in RD. The fact that this was Pinkie Pie being lied to (about whether or not someone was eating her pies, no less) also meant that the episode didn't have to get too serious in its content while still condemning the lie itself. Overall, I really enjoyed Pinkie Pie here and don't really have anything bad to say about her. She was fun, her crazy moments were great but the fact that she was right kind of made them even funnier, and at the same time, you couldn't help but understand why she was as distressed by RD's lying as she was; not only is RD one of her dearest friends, but baking in general is one of her favorite things to do and something she takes great pride in. To find out one of her closest friends has been lying to her for years about eating her pies, one of her favorite things to bake for anyone, was clearly devastating to her, and knowing Pinkie Pie as we know her by now, it's not hard to see why. Great showing from Pinkie Pie all around, she was the heart of this episode and it was better off for it.
This episode did a great job of bringing out some of Pinkie Pie's more Looney Toon-esque characteristics, especially in some of the cartoony faces she was pulling off
Rainbow Dash, on the other hoof, I have words for. Now, having the lie present for the sake of the episode working at all is fine, it made sense. But at the same time, the lengths she went to throughout this episode to dispose of pies without Pinkie noticing were RIDICULOUS!!!! I know that oftentimes (even before Pinkie Pie thought she wasn't eating her pies) Pinkie wanted her to eat them in front of her so she had to usually get rid of them right away, but even she herself pointed out later on in the episode that it was a hassle doing that for years. Hell, she even put her tortoise Tank's health at risk doing so, that ain't cool! She did this after already taking him to the vet previously for, wouldn't ya know it, getting him sick from feeding him pies she didn't want, so she knew in doing so that she was risking his health... AGAIN!!! Don't get me wrong, some of the ways she got rid of pies were hilarious (I particularly enjoyed when she tossed her "It's Not Your Birthday But Here's a Pie Anyway" Day custard pie up to a balcony and Shoeshine, upon finding it, gleefully exclaims "Huh! It's not even my birthday!"), but when you think about it from both a moral and logical POV, there's really no good reason RD kept this up for years. The only excuse I can really think of is that Rainbow Dash, like Pinkie Pie, is more prone to extreme behavior even for little things, and combine that with the fact that she HATES disappointing anypony, especially her closest friends, I can actually buy that it makes sense that RD would do such extreme behavior over such a little thing as not telling Pinkie Pie that she doesn't like pies for years. However, the episode made it a little harder to sympathize with RD's reasoning by emphasizing, in its end, a little too much that her heart was in the right place. The ideal lesson for this episode (and I think this is even what they were going for) is that while many white lies may come from genuinely good places, that still doesn't mean they're good things, and they can still hurt those we love; the problem is that by the end of the episode, the focus is less on the fact that what Rainbow Dash did was wrong, and more on the idea that it's easy for Pinkie Pie to forgive her because her motivations for lying to Pinkie Pie came from a good place and she just didn't want to hurt Pinkie Pie's feelings and wanted to keep seeing her happy at the thought of RD eating her pies. Even AJ points out that RD failed in that regard in that she still ended up hurting Pinkie's feelings anyway. But again, the episode focuses a little too much on the "good place" that white lies often come from, to the point that it almost felt like they were straight up exonerating RD for her behavior and even suggesting that there are instances where it's OK to tell a white lie. Now don't get me wrong, I know that life is grey enough that almost all of us will tell a white lie at some point in order to not hurt another, but the reason I really am not OK with how this lesson was delivered here is because this went from being a white lie to being something that RD was lying about for YEARS. Lies that are carried on for years are usually over really bad shit that you don't want anyone to know about, so for the episode to even accidentally suggest that that might be OK depending on what the lie is over is, in my opinion, not a good thing at all. Also, I'm sorry, but the gross out humor that was in the episode's final scene as RD was pledging to Pinkie Pie to eat a disgusting monstrosity of a pie that she'd somehow made was the low point of the entire episode. It felt completely out of place in a show that largely doesn't very often engage in gross out humor of any kind, it wasn't funny, the pie itself was genuinely distasteful to look at, and it felt like something you'd encounter in, say, Spongebob or The Fairly Oddparents during their later, far inferior seasons when they started delving into really bad, low brow humor aimed at the lowest common denominator. Overall, while RD was pretty entertaining throughout this episode, especially when Pinkie Pie was trying to get her to crack and admit she didn't like pie, I'm not sure she learned the right lesson (or any lesson at all), and even if she did, the resolution she and Pinkie Pie came to was just... not very satisfying.
Well that's certainly... terrifying. But not quite as terrifying as...
Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... seriously, what is this even doing in MLP? This kind of humor, at least at this kind of level, feels SO out of place in this show!
How they kept themselves from throwing in something about Soarin and pies I have NO idea, the writers really missed a golden opportunity to make a great joke there! I'm sure it was just an oversight, but still, too bad they missed out on that one
OK, it may be bad for his health, but in all seriousness that's bucking adorable and I want more
The second best member of the Mane 6 here was, surprisingly enough (considering she wasn't in that much of the episode), Applejack! She was only in about four scenes (only two of which she contributed much to) but they were quite funny appearances. I think what made her really work here is that in most of her scenes she was playing opposite Pinkie Pie, and that afforded the writers the opportunity to have her whip out some really dry, sardonic humor, which really contrasted Pinkie's over-the-top, erratic behavior. Her stumbling into Pinkie's party cave and onto a slowly-going-crazy Pinkie Pie was quite hilarious in and of itself, especially in her reactions to Pinkie Pie's interrogation as to whether or not she'd ever seen Rainbow Dash eat any of her pies, and later in the episode, she seemed to be the pony most aware (besides Pinkie Pie herself) as to how much RD had bucked the pooch by just not telling the truth in the first place (glad to see that AJ is still very much the Element of Honesty). She even seemed unsatisfied to some extent by how everything resolved, sardonically exclaiming that she could've told RD in the first place just to tell Pinkie Pie the truth. Overall, it was just fun seeing AJ in a fun supporting role that really relied on her drier sense of humor. Twilight was present a little bit too, but mostly just to tow along with AJ, and if anything her presence with Applejack for most of the episode (especially towards the end) seemed mostly to reinforce that these two are still probably the most mature (emotionally at least) members of the Mane 6. Twilight's still the center of the group that holds it together and Applejack is the best member of the group for helping the rest stay grounded and level-headed, which Twilight herself often needs the most if she's starting to panic when things start getting out of control. When they're both acting grounded and mature, you just get the sense that both of them get this and really appreciate that aspect of the other's behavior, the fact that they are the least likely of their friends to lose their heads over something. That's not to say they both haven't lost it at times (especially Twilight), but when they're grounded, boy oh boy are those two levelheaded.
Applejack: she has no time for anypony's bull shit
Finally, this episode went to a surprisingly large amount of locations, and we got to see a lot of major or minor supporting characters (mostly during Pinkie Pie's investigation) including the Wonderbolts, Dr. Fauna, Cheerilee, and many, many more. As far as another way in which this episode contrasts "Mmmmystery on the Friendship Express" for the better, the sheer number of locations made Pinkie's investigation far more fun and interesting to follow than the one in that dreadful episode. That episode has, after they board the train, ONE SINGLE LOCATION, and it's not a particularly interesting one to even look at. In contrast, this episode went to (1) Sugarcube Corner, (2) the Wonderbolt Academy and Training Grounds, (3) Pinkie Pie's Party Cave, (4) Dr. Fauna's Vet Clinic, (5) the Ponyville Schoolhouse, (6) Rainbow Dash's Cloud House, and (7) various locales and streets throughout Ponyville! Yeah, not hard to see which was more fun to follow, especially when some locations were visited multiple times. There was also a wide variety of humor dotted throughout, from Pinkie Pie's insane brand of humor when she starts breaking down and going crazy, to Applejack's drier sense of humor, and even a whole lot of physical humor, most of which worked (aside from anything having to do with that ridiculous pie at the end of the episode). All in all, what did we get? Just a really fun episode which, while hardly perfect, was still very entertaining. The most interesting thing about it wasn't its flawed lesson, but rather simply the fact that it not only had so many callbacks to "Party of One" and "Mmmmystery on the Friendship Express," but actually improved on that second episode as well, fixing a ton of flaws from it. It's hardly one of the best episodes we've gotten this season, but as far as breaks from the litany of exceptional episodes we've gotten this season go, this was one of the more entertaining ones, and definitely not a bad final episode of the season for Pinkie Pie, not at all. I had a lot of fun watching it, and I hope most of you did as well! That's all I've got for ya today everypony, until next time this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit*