Maud Pie has finally earned her “Rocktorate” Degree and graduated, and now is looking for a new place to move to continue her studies. Her choices are narrowed to Ghastly Gorge or Ponyville–with Ghastly Gorge having the more rare and interesting rocks but Ponyville having the potential for her to meet someone who can share her enthusiasm for rocks. Pinkie Pie is eager to get her to choose Ponyville so she can live next to her older sister and ends up trying to get her to befriend Starlight Glimmer. As it turns out, Starlight and Maud hit it off fairly easily on their own and share many interests; with Maud accepting of Starlight’s past mistakes and her secret interest in kites, and Starlight admiring how Maud is able to see beauty in things that most ponies ignore. However, Pinkie Pie, enthused at the two bonding so well, zealously tries to get them to spend more time together at every opportunity and arrange events to force them into bonding, until her constant attempts begin to make Maud feel ill-at-ease and uncomfortable. Finally, it gets so bad she leaves Ponyville for Ghastly Gorge, and Pinkie, miserable, tells Starlight the bad news. At that point, Starlight’s own blunt nature makes it clear that Pinkie was actually sabotaging their attempts to connect. On learning this, Pinkie runs out to Ghastly Gorge to meet up with Maud and apologize; saying she was so busy trying to get Maud to make friends “her way” she wasn’t respecting her enough to make friends in “Maud’s way”. She manages to convince Maud to give Ponyville another chance. In the end, Starlight and Maud become friends, Maud moves into a beautiful underground cavern that’s “Ponyville-Adjacent”, and Pinkie wisely learns when it’s time to excuse herself from her two friends.
The first few episodes of Season Seven were all good, but this one took it a step farther and, in my opinion, was the best we had seen so far.
As I said before when I admitted Maud Pie had grown on me, her whole schtick of being the most emotionless and uninteresting character on the show was a good enough gimmick on its own that they could probably put her in any situation and it would work fine. Yet in this episode (similar to her “Friends Forever” with Rarity), the writers managed to go a step farther and hit a little deeper. As it turns out, Maud isn’t a bit more self-aware of how different she is and doesn’t entirely like it. And that does make sense. People can get the false assumption that if someone is quiet and reserved, that means they don’t care for the company of others at all. That’s simply not true. People like that may indeed like the company of others and want friends; they’re simply not as boisterous, verbal, or social as others and so being in situations like that makes them feel very awkward. Such is the case with Maud. She doesn’t like flashy or bright and cheerful things from others because all it does is highlight how she’s not like any of those things and is an “oddball”. Like pointed out in this episode, that’s why she appreciates rocks.
Yet for most people, this was probably Starlight Glimmer’s best episode to date for a number of reasons. For one, it highlighted both her good side and her negative side. She’s blunt a number of times in this episode, sometimes not so much out of feeling the need to be blunt so much as not acknowledging feelings of somepony else. As a result, her own social awkwardness is pointed out that makes her easy to connect to Maud, yet it’s not overbearing to the point where it makes us think of “the old Starlight Glimmer”…and considering the fact the old Starlight Glimmer cameos in a flashback, that’s saying something.
While a cynic would say that Maud Pie was paired with Starlight Glimmer for the same reason Trixie Lulamoon was…to give an excuse for more Maud on the show…I’d say that’s only half right. In reality, Starlight has the sort of personality that would easily bond with more socially awkward individuals. Its ones who are more openly friendly and extroverted that make her nervous, as demonstrated in “Every Little Thing She Does”. By comparison, ones who don’t readily connect with others and form relationships “at their own pace”, as Trixie did, more easily bond with Maud. Those sorts of individuals are more devoted toward how they’ve improved themselves rather than connected with other ponies, just like she has, and so they have a commonality there. Really, the episode makes a good case for Starlight and Maud naturally being friends. Again, no small feat as Starlight walks into this episode practically as the setup to a punch line.
Yet best of all, finally we have an episode where Starlight “is on the Mane Six’s level”. Until this episode, Starlight only ever seemed to appear in episodes that were either devoted to her or with the rest of the Mane Six. It was so bad in Season Six that there were episodes she seemed to intentionally be omitted from, like “28 Pranks Later” and “The Saddle Row Review”. It seemed the only character she was ever allowed to play off of was the “leader” of the Mane Six, Twilight Sparkle. In this episode, Starlight interacts with Pinkie Pie and Maud Pie…and that’s it. While she figures into a lot of this episode and is important to the resolution, primarily this episode is about Pinkie and Maud, not her. It’s an episode like this where Starlight actually seems to be a real member of the cast rather than a gimmick.
Last but not least, this is an episode which does a good job of handling Pinkie Pie’s “negative side”. Most episodes that show off the bad character traits of the rest of the Mane Six are pretty well cut and developed, but Pinkie’s bad side is usually only ever shown off as her being psychotic. This one, similar to Season Two’s “A Friend in Deed”, shows off how even her own boisterous, friendly, and enthusiastic nature can, in the right situation, actually be counter-productive toward forming friendships. It was a very nice touch and I appreciated it.
Aside from that, it has heart, humor, and genuine relationships where we learn more about characters we already know and love. It’s a model for a “regular friendship problem episode”.
In spite of the number of characters who appear in this episode, there are only five speaking roles (Pinkie Pie, Maud Pie, Starlight Glimmer, Rarity, and Rusty Tenure [the professor]).
Maud and the Rusty’s mortarboards are made of rocks. Also, the return of Pinkie Pie’s human-shaped foam finger.
There’s a running joke in this episode about Maud being good at stand-up comedy. This is likely a nod back to Season Five’s “Make New Friends but Keep Discord” in which her heckling got more well-received than Discord’s stand-up.
Here’s a trivia question for MLP:FIM. What kind of rock is Boulder? (Answer: Magnesium-rich basalt. :D)
Pinkie Pie does the trick of changing her mane style when imitating another pony, only in her case her head seems to transform to a pink version of theirs.
The return of the locale of Ghastly Gorge, which was previously seen in Season Two’s “May the Best Pet Win”. It would be mentioned again in the Season Finale.
Rarity seems rather broken up to learn that the gems in her designs aren’t terribly rare or unique. Aw. 😦 (Guess she doesn’t want to be known as “Commonality”. [Rimshot]) Also, she’s the only member of the Mane Six other than Pinkie Pie to appear in this episode, which is a bit unusual as Tabitha St. Germain provides a lot of background pony and one-shot pony voices.
More fodder for the Lyra/Bon Bon shipping. 😛
Maud Pie’s full name is revealed to be “Maudelina Daisy Pie”, similar to how Pinkie Pie’s full name is “Pinkamena Diane Pie”.
One of the nice details in this episode is Maud periodically expressing (albeit just barely) genuine emotion. When she admits she wouldn’t mind a new friend she actually looks embarrassed, and when Starlight says she’s starting to like rocks too and removes Pinkie’s cowbells with a sarcastic “oops”, she instinctively smiles just a tiny bit. When Pinkie Pie finally gets too overbearing even for Maud, she looks to one side and sighs.
As off-the-wall as Pinkie’s comment about somepony coming barreling out of the Castle of Friendship seems, it ends up being true…just a bit late. 😛
In one of the episode’s bigger reveals, it turns out Maud accidentally helped Starlight form her anti-Cutie Mark commune. As a result, we get a cameo of Starlight’s old hair style.
Derpy ends up getting hit in the head with a pizza. ;_;
The bit where Starlight and Maud discover the underground rock paradise might be a parody of the Genesis Cave from “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”, especially since Starlight says: “Have you ever seen anything like this?” (In the movie, Bones’ own reaction is, “Have you ever seen the like?”)
In this episode, I noticed that whenever someone tries to drag Maud unwillingly into an “emotional” moment, she simply stares ahead silently…seemingly waiting for it to be over with. 😛
Although most people would end up likening “Secrets and Pies” as being the closest we got to Pinkie’s insanity in Season One’s “Feeling Pinkie Keen”, it’s worth noting in this episode she purposely blows up the entrance to the gem cave to try and trap Starlight and Maud underground long enough to bond.
Maud and Pinkie both have pajamas with “footies” (“hoofies”?). Also, Maud wears curlers in her hair to bed yet her hair is always straight, whereas Pinkie wears nothing and her hair is always curly.
4 Stars out of 5