Rainbow Dash, who didn’t think too much of Pinkie Pie before now, discovers they have a mutual interest in pranks and end up bonding over playing a series of harmless practical jokes on various residents of Ponyville one day. When Pinkie Pie comes over the next day with the desire to play more, she sees an old friend of Rainbow Dash’s, a griffon named Gilda, is visiting. When she tries to join in on their own high-flying activities, Gilda reveals a mean side and drives her off when Rainbow Dash isn’t looking. When Pinkie Pie complains about her to Twilight Sparkle, she assumes Pinkie is just being jealous that Rainbow likes spending time with Gilda more than her. However, when Pinkie sees Gilda continuing to be mean and rude to the other citizens of Ponyville, she decides to “do something about it”. Cut to a party Pinkie Pie throws in Gilda’s honor. However, on arrival, Gilda ends up setting off one prank after another and, unlike the others who took them as “good fun”, eventually blows up in anger and insults everyone, blaming Pinkie Pie for setting up all the “lame pranks” and wanting to leave with Rainbow Dash…only to find out Rainbow Dash was the one who set up all the pranks and she was just unlucky enough to set them all off. After hearing her tirade, Rainbow (as well as the other ponies) realize Gilda’s true nature, prompting her to storm off and break off her friendship with Rainbow Dash. Rainbow apologizes to Pinkie (as does Twilight), and ends up having a good time at the party with everyone else. Twilight writes to Celestia that when a friend appears to gravitate more toward a different friend who seems mean, it’s best to just keep being a good friend yourself and eventually the “truth” will shine through.
This episode starts to feel like the show is coming into its element. It technically features both Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie as the main characters, although I think of it more as a “Pinkie Pie” episode, making it her first. As in most episodes where she’s featured, things go pretty well with her demeanor and antics, which often seem to defy physics and logic. Although I think Twilight’s message at the end was a bit “muddled”, the episode, plot-wise, is pretty solid and, to me, even more engaging than the pilot episode.
Gilda was one of many characters who appear to have been created for a single episode. Some of them end up sticking around…others come and go. Although her last line left an option open for a return, she never showed again in four seasons and is probably gone for good. She’s also the first example of a “minor antagonist”. The show had its major antagonists (Nightmare Moon, Discord, Chrysalis, King Sombre, and Tirek), its monsters such as the manticore and the dragon, and then it had the minor antagonists like Gilda who acted more as the “after-school special” antagonists. To me…part of the reason this episode hits me more than others is that Gilda is, arguably, a more “potent” villain than Nightmare Moon was in the opening, because she’s actually grounded in reality rather than being a “dark night goddess”. She hits a personal note with me in one scene in particular, where Fluttershy is nervously fumbling for an apology and she cruelly makes fun of the way Fluttershy talks. People who bullied me when I was younger did the same thing, and it really does “hurt”, especially when you can’t help it. But besides that, like Pinkie Pie says, she’s “a grump, a thief, and a bully”. Not a very redeemable character, but still “realistic” enough to invoke more feelings from the audience.
This episode is also an example of great writing for me. When dealing with the topic of “pranks”, in a simplistic cartoon environment, it’s very easy to “cross the line” and take your characters from looking like they’re just having harmless fun to looking to be mean and cruel themselves. I love how the writers seem to be able to “walk the line” in episodes like this. All of the early “victims” of Rainbow and Pinkie’s pranks end up having a good laugh over it, the same as them, and the two draw the line at pranking Fluttershy because they know she’s too sensitive (whereas a lesser show would simply alter Fluttershy’s character to “roll with it” temporarily). It ends up being Gilda’s inability to take a joke that exposes her true nature in the end.
Also, Pinkie Pie pulling a marshmallow on a stick out of nowhere when Gilda breathes fire from eating hot food and roasting it on it, as well as Fluttershy’s complete obliviousness to the aborted prank turtle are real “winners” for me in this episode.
The other five members of the Mane Six appeared to be friends before they met Twilight Sparkle back in the pilot episode, but the way this episode starts, it seems as if the only “common thread” they have is Twilight Sparkle with the way Rainbow Dash initially finds Pinkie Pie annoying and a nuisance.
Pinkie’s “bouncing” after Rainbow Dash when she flees is similar to Pepe Le Pew from “Looney Tunes”. Her ability to pop out of anywhere is similar to Droopy and is emulated in the Season Two episode “A Friend in Deed”.
Again, Derpy appears in this episode non-wall-eyed.
One of the few episodes that features Princess Celestia actually getting scrolls from Spike.
Also one of the few episodes to feature where Rainbow Dash lives. Rather impressive.
Griffons were introduced as another sentient race in this episode, although this is the last we would see of them until Season Two’s “MMMystery on the Friendship Express”.
Fluttershy was revealed to be older than Pinkie Pie in this episode.
One plot hole… Rainbow Dash claims to be the one who set up all the pranks at the party for Gilda, but somehow I have a feeling she didn’t slip a joy buzzer onto Pinkie’s hoof at some point without her knowing. Pinkie could have always “gone along” with that prank, though.
3.5 Stars out of 5