This week’s MLP is among the funniest episodes of the show, and one of the tightest in terms of pacing and presentation, which makes it top tier for me. As much as I enjoyed the premiere, this episode is the more brilliant kick-off of the new season.
What makes it so tight? The concept is nothing new to cartoons—Pinkie Pie clones herself a bunch of times, quickly realizes why this was a bad idea, and then it’s up to her friends to figure out which one is the real Pinkie and destroy the fakes. It’s been done many times, including on Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends, which was another Lauren Faust show (though I realize she’s no longer involved in MLP).
This episode succeeds because Pinkie Pie is the perfect character to have this happen to. It’s hardly surprising that she’d come up with the plan to clone herself, and it’s hard to doubt that she could do it. The idea even works as a character exploration, because Pinkie initiates this whole plan out of her inability to make choices. The result is exactly what the viewer expects from having too many Pinkie Pies, and rather than dwell on the chaos of the situation, the fun comes more from Pinkie’s one-of-a-kind reaction (doubting if she even is the real Pinkie Pie), and the reaction of her friends.
Over-arching statements out of the way, I feel the need to run through this episode chronologically and point out all the totally neat stuff in it.
It opens with Twilight training in magic. Whether or not this is involved in her new studies is unknown, but it certainly sounds like an advanced spell. Twilight is trying to turn an apple into an orange, but as we soon learn, her ability is actually, “turning things into oranges.” Most amazing, though, is that the two things which she turns into oranges in the episode are living creatures. This does not kill them, though. A bird turns into an orange with wings, and a frog turns into an orange with limbs, and when it croaks the orange splits open like a mouth. That this doesn’t stand out as the most bizarre moment in the episode is a testament to how much goes on in it.
We don’t need to spend much time thinking about this to realize the implications. The oranges are now sentient creatures, presumably living out the lives of a bird and a frog, only now they’re oranges. They never get changed back, so these things are just running around in the wild. I wonder if Fluttershy can still talk to them, maybe help them get their lives together. Does the frog orange still have a tongue to catch flies? Can they spawn?
These transformations actually fit in with the Pinkie Pie cloning theme, since both are about fucking around with transforming creatures and shit. The animals being transformed and never turned back reminds me of how the new Pinkie Pies are brutally destroyed in an instant later on.
Before I continue to the next scene, let me stop to say what I always say: the attention to detail in this show is insane. I can’t possibly get into every single noteworthy piece of animation and scene in the episode, because it’s a constant flood of greatness. This is why I spend so much time on the MLP reddit, just basking in every little moment of the episode with everyone, taking it apart .gif by .jpeg. But you should know all of this—that’s why you’re watching the show. ISN’T IT GREAT?!?!
So anyway, Pinkie Pie is presented with a choice. We’ve seen plenty of choice-making throughout the show. Twilight wracked her brain trying to decide who to give her Gala tickets to in The Ticket Master; Rainbow Dash spent a whole episode making up her mind about what pet to choose in May the Best Pet Win, etc.
Pinkie Pie doesn’t bother giving the choices any thought, or even consider the idea of “making a decision.” She wants to do EVERYTHING, and funnily enough, this character flaw is never resolved. She writes to Princess Celestia that it’s important to make choices, and resolves to do so, but at the end of the episode, when confronted with a choice, Pinkie just says, “fuck it I’m tired,” and goes to bed. This is one more way in which I relate to Pinkie. I can’t ever make decisions, so I end up sleeping all day.
Actually, I relate to Pinkie’s initial solution as well, which is attempting to do everything by way of pushing herself to the physical limit of possibility. I love that Pinkie’s vision of how she’ll manage to be in two places at once is like a classic cartoon two-timing scenario, similar to how Rarity handled being at two parties in Sweet and Elite.
Now, skipping forward a bit, onto the subject of Pinkie’s clones. What they are exactly is highly questionable, but it’s clear that the clones are not quite the real Pinkie Pie. They seem to have carried over her personality and desires, but not her memories. This is displayed not just by making them mindless fun-zombies (which they almost are), but by the fact that Pinkie actually has to teach them who her friends are, and the clones can’t even get their names right.
This is interesting because Pinkie’s memory seems to be her most cherished possession. She’s got a lot of pride in her knowledge of everyone in Ponyville, and this was the entire point of A Friend in Deed. In fact, the backbone of Pinkie’s plan is that she can have her clones be in multiple places at once, and then regale Pinkie with an account of what happened to them, allowing her to experience the fun memories vicariously.
The primary difference between Pinkie and her clones is this different approach to memories and fun. Pinkie seems to view fun with her friends and the memories of said fun as the building blocks of who she is, whereas the clones just care about instant gratification and having fun in the moment. This is how Pinkie wins the “watching paint dry” gambit. She’s thinking about the future with her friends and all the fun times that are to come, while the clones are just concerned with having fun at all times.
Random Aside: At one point, Rainbow Dash remarks that she’s actually pretty tired after work and just wants to relax. It’s like she’s speaking straight to my heart…
Pinkie’s first clone is the only one who gets to talk at some length, and I think it was a brilliant idea to start with just one clone and explore enough about its personality before unleashing the whole army and causing havoc. This clone displays enough sentience and similarity to Pinkie’s own desires to show that she has many similarities to the real Pinkie and isn’t totally mindless. I think it’s hilarious, though, that Pinkie almost immediately seems sagely calm compared to her newborn clone. One of the first things she says to the clone is, “settle down, now.”
When the clone is faced with her inability to make decisions, she has a breakdown. Here’s another way that this episode is better than it could’ve been: Pinkie herself is the one who suggests making more clones. They could’ve had the clone decide itself to go clone more Pinkie Pies, and thus the situation would’ve gotten out of hand without Pinkie’s control. Instead, Pinkie is aware of what’s going on each step of the way, which puts the weight of her decisions more squarely on her shoulders. It also shows that the clone wasn’t intelligent enough to come up with an idea like that herself. Again, I think the clones are driven by nothing but instant gratification.
After that, things get out of hand immediately when the clones decide to make a whole army of themselves, just because it seems like fun. Note again that Pinkie is aware of this, and she almost panics, but when faced with an army of herself, she can’t help but love them all and decides that this can still work out. In fact, she quickly turns it into a plan to launch an unprecedented fun operation on Ponyville.
Amusingly, if these Pinkie clones had actually carried the memories and concerns of the real Pinkie Pie, then there’s no reason this plan wouldn’t have worked. Pinkie doesn’t seem to fully grasp how different her clones are from herself, and only sees the positive possibilities of the situation. Unfortunately, the clones aren’t interested in memories of fun.
Pinkie’s ideal might’ve been spending each evening with her army of Pinkies discussing all the fun events of the day over cake at a giant round table. The clones, however, just wanna go wreck shit, and they do.
Pinkie is the first to realize that the situation is out of hand, but she has no idea what to do. She panics and becomes depressed, and this is how we are meant to know that she’s not like the other Pinkies. The idea is that she cares about her friends and feels regret for her decisions, whereas the other Pinkies don’t know or care, but the reason Pinkie feels the way she does is because of the way she thinks, as described above.
Pinkie is not aware of this. She seems to see herself in the same way that her friends do, which is as a machine that knows nothing besides fun. The only thing that she knows for sure is how badly she wants to be with her friends, and she bases her gambit around this fact. Presumably, if she lost the test, she would’ve found herself unworthy of being the real Pinkie Pie. She is afraid of her potential to fail, but suggests the test anyways.
Hilarity soon follows. Spike locates the deus ex bookina and Twilight knows that she can send the Pinkies back to the pond, but there’s the potential to send back the real one. We won’t say anything about the fact that Twilight apparently has the ability to instantly vaporize anypony and trap them in an underground pond.
When faced with the prospect of determining which Pinkie is the real one, Twilight instantly gives up. Her friends, more terrified than they were of Parasprites and a dragon, have gone into hiding, “until the Pinkie storm dies down.” (Best line ever.)
When faced with the real Pinkie, who is sitting around depressed, Twilight is unconvinced, stating that the real Pinkie has never sat still for so long in her life. It’s understandable that Twilight wouldn’t immediately assume that the one Pinkie doing something different is the real one, since the properties of these Pinkie clones are totally unknown. Presumably, given enough time to study them, Twilight could’ve reached a conclusion, although it’s also possible that the stress would’ve driven her insane and caused some kind of reckless Pinkie genocide. Thankfully the real Pinkie comes up with the paint drying gambit.
The presentation of the paint-drying scene is nothing short of brilliant. It leaves just enough ambiguity to raise the possibility of the wrong Pinkie having survived. We don’t see exactly where Rainbow deposits the real Pinkie in the crowd—but it does look to be around the same general area that the last Pinkie ends up sitting. It’s not that it looks like the wrong Pinkie survived, nor is it likely, but there’s *just* enough ambiguity to leave it up to the viewer’s faith in Pinkie to decide if the right one survived.
Her friends have enough faith to believe that they made the right choice, and most viewers will have no real doubts about it. The point is that they didn’t make it easy. We don’t believe that the real Pinkie survived because we saw where she was sitting, we believe it because we trust that the real Pinkie is the one who cares about her friends and isn’t just a mindless fun-seeking machine. That’s what makes the resolution so satisfying and cool.
Two more weeks till Trixie returns. More Trixie THAN MY BODY HAS ROOM FOR.