Monday, 26 October 2015

Episode review: S5E20: "Hearthbreakers"

Limestone complains about the state of the Rock Farm
"Pinkie! Are you telling me you forgot the rock cakes?"
It's episode review time again, and as it's late October we naturally have... a Christmassy episode. Well, of course. I can only guess that season five's original broadcast schedule would have had this ep airing in December, but that the mid-season hiatus messed up those plans. Anyway, this one was written by Nick Confalone, whose only previous My Little Pony episode was the okay-I-guess "Party Pooped". Second time round, how did he do? Read on!

Actually, not too badly. This is a reasonably heartwarming episode in the end, although it takes a while to get to that stage. It's good to see more of the Pie family, although I'm not the greatest fan of the Amish-ish ways of the Pie parents and their Pairing/Choosing Stone. Limestone, an absolute pain for most of the episode, does eventually suggest that she's like Maud in having a softer side that is only rarely revealed. And Marble? She's adorable, but then as Grey!Fluttershy she could hardly be otherwise.

Which leads me on to an aspect of the episode that has excited some discussion: the fact that there's a bit of shipteasing with Big Mac and Marble even though they might be related. To which I say: who cares? Pinkie's comment in "Pinkie Apple Pie" makes it clear that they're fairly distant cousins if they're cousins at all. I don't even care that Pinkie emphasises the "possible cousins" thing. Charles Darwin married his first cousin, you know.

Telling the Hearth's Warming legend
"Hey, we could do this for G5. It'd still be better than Newborn Cuties"
Back to the episode itself, and as I have a foul cough at the moment, I'm going to be a bit more note-like than sometimes. I am amused by Twilight's doll: it looks very reminiscent of Smarty Pants. The origin story about "Holder's Boulder" looks to have some gaps, and therefore fanfic potential. The Pie parents' "Choosing Stone" even more so – though please, for the love of Celestia, don't copy Granny's tortured attempts at their grammar. It's painful enough reading the many Luna fics that get that sort of thing wildly wrong!

Maud's carol is great, including the callback to her poetry recital in "Maud Pie" itself. Eating rock soup reminds me a bit of the tale of "stone soup", and I wonder whether that inspired this? It seems a little sad that none of the other Pies (except possibly Marble) really softened after Pinkie managed to make them enjoy their first party all those years ago. And the closing credits music again seem inspired by the normal theme tune.

What else? Well, Pascoite notes that the geology is correct, which I'm pleased by. On which note: Maud is going into academia (the "rocktorate in rock science"), so it's not surprising that it's Limestone, not her older sister, who runs the farm now. And hallelujah for S5, including this episode, working on restoring Pinkie's character. She was horribly flanderised at times in S4 and it's so nice to see her more thoughtful aspects come out.

Applejack in the mine
"Uh, Princess Cadance? I think the Empire's economy just collapsed"
Oh, and Applejack doesn't always cry on the inside, it would seem. Surely you should know that, Cousin(?) Pinkie! All in all, this feels like a Boxing Day special: an episode that doesn't go full-on with great revelations or mighty battles, but runs along pleasantly in the way that's possible when audiences know the main characters involved as well as we do now. Unless something in the future draws from it, I can't see it becoming a classic, but it's a decent effort.

Best quote: Maud: "Have you ever wished you could turn into a rock?"

  • A pleasant, easy, ultimately aww-inducing watch
  • Pinkie Pie is written well and interestingly
  • The Pie family are mostly solid (hah) characters
  • A little bit of worldbuilding here and there
  • Nothing that will really wow most viewers
  • Ma and Pa Pie are a bit by-the-(good)-book
  • The recap of the HW legend was a little pointless


  1. Rock cakes?

    Makes me think of rock cakes from Harry Potter that Hagrid baked...I remember when Ron and Harry ate them it said the rock cakes were "shapeless lumps with raisins that almost broke their teeth..."

    1. Fairly common small British cakes. Here's a recipe:

    2. I see now...interesting, and thanks for the link :)