Sorry for the late review everypony. I was volunteering at a local museum this morning (which really wasn't as fun as it sounds, the event was super slow and had very light attendance, but eh, what can you do?), and after that I had to run some errands with my mom. But I finally got around to the episode late in the afternoon. So what did I think? Overall... solid average episode, but... it should have been a good episode. So let's begin by covering the good before I go over what I think brings this episode down, disappointingly, to average status.
Well first of all, the Mane 6 as a whole were just wonderful. As far as sharing screen time goes, this was one of the best ensemble episodes in a long time, in fact, probably the best one we've had since "Power Ponies" (and heck, I'd say it did an even better job than "Power Ponies" did as an ensemble episode). Heck, the screen time was split so nicely that I can't even really call Pinkie Pie the star of the episode, everyone just shared the screen so well and contributed to the episode pretty much equally. Pinkie didn't even end up solving the group's dilemma here, rather, the rest of her friends did. All of them were very much in character here, had a lot of screen time, contributed a lot of laughs (though Pinkie Pie undeniably had the lion's share, seriously, her comedy and characterization was very spot on, felt like a Season 2 turn for Pinkie Pie), and were all very competent even. None of them actually made mistakes or did anything malicious, they just had to deal with a very awkward situation that would understandably trip anyone up. Pinkie's love for Maud was believable as well, just because when you're siblings, you get each other, even if you are polar opposites (a lot of the time, anyway, not always, but a lot of the time), and it was very touching seeing the lengths she'd go to make her sister happy and feel welcome. As for the rest of the Mane 6, they really did put their best hoof forward as well trying to befriend Maud. It wasn't that they weren't trying, they just seriously couldn't click with her or figure out what they had in common until the very end. So overall, what we got from the Mane 6 as a whole were very down-to-earth performances perfect for a slice-of-life episode, which this episode felt very much like. It wasn't a dire situation, there wasn't anything major at stake, no one was in peril or risking throwing everything away. It was just a very solid, slice-of-life dilemma that felt very normal, the characters worked just fine confronted with that dilemma, and overall that slice-of-life feel worked just fine for the episode.
Seriously, can we please address the fact that we all just ate actual rocks?!
Because I can't help but feel that these aren't going to pass through our systems very well.
*RD's next trip to the can*
OH GOSH, WHYYYYYY???????? IT FEELS LIKE THERE'S NAILS PASSING THROUGH MY BOWELS, AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Have fun getting that image out of your heads. :comeatus:
Thematically the episode had a very nice message. Again, it was normal, it was just a solid and even mature slice-of-life message, but it was a nice message all the same that was executed perfectly fine in the episode. It's very real that sometimes, not all of your friends are going to click with or understand each other, even if you're friends with them all the same, and the fact that this was one of Pinkie's sisters made the situation all the more awkward and difficult for the rest of the Mane 6. It was also nice that, by the end of the episode, while the girls had accepted that they really didn't understand Maud nor she they, they could at least connect with each other over their common love for Pinkie Pie. That was a nice compromise that felt very real; it's not like Maud changed because of that, it's not like she suddenly became more outgoing because they had something in common. She was still Maud, they were still the Mane 6 and didn't get her, but they all still loved Pinkie and realized they could bond over that in their own way. Very lovely message, very lovely indeed, and it was executed and delivered within the story just fine. The humor, as I mentioned, was pretty spot on as well, with some very funny visual and dialogue humor from all of the Mane 6, especially Pinkie Pie. She didn't feel like she was unnecessarily over-the-top in her behavior, no, that felt very real because you could tell she was just trying her hardest to make sure her sister and friends had a great time together (even if she was blissfully unaware for much of it that they weren't). Overall, the episode's story itself fulfilled its intent perfectly fine, delivering a very solid message with very good execution. So the Mane 6 are fine, the message was fine, the story, the humor, the fulfillment of the episode's intent itself were all just fine. So where did this episode go wrong, why do I think it's just a disappointingly average episode instead of a solid good episode?
One word: Maud. Let me explain: Maud played her role in the story just fine. The purpose behind her character was to present the Mane 6 with someone who they couldn't bond with at all, and in the end had to settle for bonding over their common love for Pinkie Pie, which was a fair compromise that worked for everyone. She fulfilled her purpose just fine, helping the episode fulfill its overall intent just fine. She also wasn't malicious or anything, she certainly wasn't a jerk. She seemed by the end to be a well meaning pony who only had love for her sister. But my gosh, was she BORING!!!
Now look, I know it may seem a bit juvenile or childish to complain about someone not being animated or being a very reserved character, but, listen, here's the thing: I COMPLETELY GET WHY THE MANE 6 DIDN'T CLICK WITH MAUD! Why? Because I didn't click with her either, not at all, and I imagine that a number of bronies feel the same way. The entire episode there was absolutely nothing compelling about her in the slightest! Maud was just... bleh. I know that some of the situations and scenes she was in ended up having dry humor, but that wasn't because of her, not intentionally at least. She wasn't ever trying to be funny or witty, the things she did that were funny were always her being serious about something. She was just so introverted and unenthusiastic about anything and everything, and it drove me crazy at times. Even her saving Pinkie Pie rubbed me the wrong way. Not because I can't believe that Maud would love her sister enough to move mountains, but because it was the only plot point that felt convoluted. I know they'd established earlier that Maud was freakishly strong, but come on, that deus ex machina was ridiculous, she friggin' turned into Superman in that scene out of bucking nowhere!!! I was happy with how the episode was resolved, I was happy that a good message was learned and delivered, and I was happy that the Mane 6 found something to bond with Maud over, but I just... didn't... like... Maud! I got absolutely nothing out of this character, I wasn't sorry to see her leave at the end, and I won't be sorry if she never reappears in the show again. As a character herself, she was dry as toast left out in the desert sun for a week, and I just, I'm sorry, I didn't like her, not one bit, she made me feel NOTHING! I guess I also was a bit mad that neither Inkie nor Blinkie have gotten to show up yet in the present, seeing as they were already established characters way back in Season 1, and instead we got a completely new character, but really, I wouldn't have held that against her if I found her to be likable at all, which, I didn't. The Mane 6 didn't ever click with her and neither did I, and really, Maud is what brought this episode down from good to average status for me, which is a real shame because if not for her, this would've been a solid good episode in my book. If some of you like Maud, good for you, but me, I couldn't get into her at all, not once, as I watched the episode.
Sweet Celestia, Gummy has more personality here than Maud does!!!
So as I said, the episode overall was average. It should've been good, but one major element brought it down to average status, and that's pretty disappointing in all honesty. Plenty to like here, but there's also just one big element that simply didn't work once for me. Ah well, they can't all be home runs, but it's still disappointing when one element alone tarnishes an episode overall, even when everything else works just fine. Sorry Maud, but I hope you're on that rock trip for a LONG time.
My gosh, PINKIE'S TONGUE HAS MORE PERSONALITY THAN MAUD DOES!!!
Seriously, though, that image is pretty darn hilarious. Pinkie Pie, u so silly, never stop being a silly filly, you hear?