Sunday, 12 January 2014

Episode review: "Pinkie Apple Pie" (S4E09)

The extended Apple Family
Apples to the Arrr
This week's episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, "Pinkie Apple Pie", introduced us to another new writer: Natasha Levinger. This was the final episode which we'd seen as part of the SDCC animatics clip. That, as I'm sure everyone who saw it will recall, included a song that became a fan favourite very quickly indeed. The big question, of course, was whether the episode that was written around it would be such a success. And for the answer to that, you'll have to follow me past the jump!

A small complaint first: for the second time this season, there was an error in the titling: this was proudly announced as "Pinky Apple Pie". It's surprising to see such poor quality control on something so immediately obvious. The story itself, though, was a good deal better. This, as appletastic episodes have tended to be, was rather more down-home and domestic in focus than some of the others, although there was still a fair amount of action. It combined elements of both slice-of-life and adventure – maybe someone should tell FIMFiction, which refuses to let authors use both tags on the same story!

This is a very down-to-Earth story – unsurprising, given that apart from Twilight at the very beginning, every single pony in it is of the Earthen persuasion. I'm not sure whether that was a deliberate decision, but it does make things interesting as it means that neither flight nor magic can be used to overcome obstacles. Okay, scratch that when it comes to Pinkie Pie and her balloons. We don't actually see all the obstacles the ponies face, since The Scariest Cave in Equestria is only seen from the outside – apart from one later glimpse in a photo on a page of Pinkie's ever-growing scrapbook collection.

One of Pinkie's scrapbooks
One small picture? Pah! Side universes have been started with less!
Like last week's episode, this is at heart a character piece, and like last week's episode, it's a satisfying one. The (original) Apple Family rub along together in a realistic manner, especially when they try to hide their squabbles from their potential new relative. Even Big Mac is allowed some extra words... though not too many! Pinkie herself is excellent this time around: if she'd been like this in earlier episodes, those "flanderisation" complaints simply wouldn't exist. Her enthusiasm to join a family like the Apples is particularly poignant in the light of what her early fillyhood was like.

And so, the song. "Apples to the Core" is very nice: extremely catchy, perfectly suited to these characters and – I have little doubt – on its way to becoming a convention favourite. Oddly enough, I think it may have lost something from the animatic version, where the audience participation really lifted it. In that sense, it's similar to "Raise This Barn", a song that works stupendously well in a crowd but which I didn't like so much in its episode. "Apples to the Core" is a better song overall, I think. The animation during it is very good as well, and really adds to the fun.

Goldie Delicious was a very entertaining guest pony – voiced by none other than Peter New, Big Mac's VA. A very good job he made of it, too. Goldie proved to be great fun, and somepony I wouldn't be at all surprised to see return in the future. Dust cat and all! I'm not sure if that was a nod to DustyKatt, though there was one out-and-out fandom nod this time: Apple Bloom's map chant, which had she not lost her balance would most certainly have ended with her declaring herself to be "Apple-licious". I laughed: there's nothing wrong with this sort of thing as long as it doesn't get in the way of the story.

Inside Goldie's house
Is that Ahuizotl's cheetah...?
All in all, "Pinkie Apple Pie" continued S4's excellent overall quality and demonstrates that this season isn't all about sweeping epicness or holodeck-style parallel worlds. Levinger seems to understand the characters right off the bat, as Corey Powell did back in S3, and she's given us a very pleasing episode. In fact, just like "Sleepless in Ponyville", this week's ep is perhaps simply a more technically polished version of something that could have been done in S1. I don't think it's quite as much of a classic as "SiP", but it's definitely a very good episode.

Additional, 13/1/14: Oh, forget it. Every time I rewatch this I like it more and more. I can't fight it any more. It's a 9.

Best quote: Apple Bloom's map chant

  • "Apples to the Core" has to be sung at every con ever from now on
  • Heaps of well-done humour (that duckface!)
  • Excellent characterisation, especially of Pinkie
  • Realistic family interaction, not all positive
  • Pinkie's scrapbooking and her "you make time" quote
  • Goldie Delicious and her cats
  • The subtle hints that Goldie Delicious might actually be a Pie
  • Big Mac. Enough said
  • Doesn't quite have that "instant classic" feel
  • I wanted to see inside the cave!
  • Sloppy captioning error
8.5/10 9/10


  1. I am a few weekrs behind on my ponies (I know, I should probably leave the fandom or something), but after finally downloading it, I got straight into it. I usually watch the pre credit intro first and then come back later, but pinkie just sucked me right in. I am coming from an initial dislike of pinkie's randomness and episodes (Hated A Friend in Deed, the song only grew on me due to the fandom, like I hope the new one gets as big, but that's getting ahead of things)
    I found this episode like last weeks raritys episode to be better than any of the others this season because of its self contained ness and character breathing room. I liked the Apple Family's interaction, Apple bloom's brony ref was 'Awesome' and the moral was sound.
    Though I wish Big Mac would get some more lines.

    1. Ah yes, "A Friend in Deed" -- loved the song from the start, disliked most of the rest! This one was much better all round. Character-focused episodes are usually my favourites anyway.