Thursday, 5 April 2018

Episode review: S8E03: "The Maud Couple"

Mudbriar looks at his "vision board" which shows lots of indistinct lit rectangles. Mudbriar's eyes are closed
"Technically, Tales is G1, not G2, as you can see here"
Easter having got in the way, this review will necessarily be a rather short one. It's either that or not get it done at all. "The Maud Couple" was written by Nick Confalone, whose last outing for the show was "Rock Solid Friendship" just under a year ago. That was a Maud-and-Pinkie episode with Starlight as a supporting act, in which I found Pinkie pretty annoying at times. So, what would this year's Maudisode bring?

Actually, something not a million miles from that. Pinkie was pretty irritating in the first act for somepony who knows Maud so well. (Maud's own comedy routine wasn't her greatest.) Yes, I get that Maud was acting oddly because of the boyfriend Pinkie didn't yet know about, but had Pinks been even vaguely calmer (which she can be) then she'd have known what was going on much sooner. Oh, and "boyfriend" is fair enough: "girlfriend" has been canon since S2, and "coltfriend"/"marefriend" are more suited to fan works.

Mudbriar (spelt as one word in the credits) was frankly a bit of a pain for a while, and I didn't warm to him in the way I did to Maud herself. Yes, we're all saying "technically" in the way we all said "teacup" last year, but his behaviour at Sugarcube Corner just before closing time was rather impolite. It wasn't really until the last few minutes of the episode – when Pinkie was also at her best – that I really started to like Mudbriar. Maybe not enough to want to see him that often again, though.

Distant shot of Starlight and Maud on the ground, with their kites either side in the foreground. Pinkie and Mudbriar are approaching
Have they been standing there so long they've worn the grass down?
A nice surprise was the appearance of the other two Pie Sisters, when Pinkie had fled back to the rock farm for a while. Limestone was by far the more interesting of the two, with her geode analogy giving her a bit more depth than we'd seen from the angry young mare who yelled at ponies to stay off Holder's Boulder. Conversely, Marble was very disappointing: with only her family around, I'd have expected a bit more than two counts of "Mm-hm".

A couple of extra things: Mudbriar's "vision board" was... well, I can only assume that it's based on something in real (or cod-)psychology, but all I could think of was that insufferable brat's "It's a Unix system! I know this!" from the original Jurassic Park movie. On a nicer note, Starlight's semi-reprise of her guidance counselling role from the premiere was very satisfying; I wonder whether this will be a recurring thing? I especially enjoyed the kite scene, where we also saw her enthusiasm for those again.

A special mention has to go to the "Opposite Day" sequence, which was probably the funniest part of the episode, even though it was short. The caricatured faces were amusing and the quotes varied from rather dull and predictable (Fluttershy) to genuinely laugh-inducing (Twilight). All in all, this was another entertaining ep, though it's probably no more than a middle-ranking effort from Confalone, ahead of "Party Pooped" but behind "The Saddle Row Review".

Marble holding a pick in her mouth, with an angry-looking Limestone and a calmer Pinkie alongside
"No, Marble, that doesn't look anything like a swan in flight"
Best quote: Technically Opposite Twilight: "I never learned to read!"

  • Nice Pie Sisterly bonding
  • Starlight doing the Guidance Counsellor thing well
  • The "Opposite Day" sequence
  • Not part of the ep itself... but nice to see really new opening credits at last!
  • Characterisation wasn't absolutely spot on
  • Mudbriar was pretty annoying at times


  1. What, Twilight's caricature was both dull and predictable AND genuinely laugh-inducing? :P

    Mudbriar's using the method of loci, an enduringly popular mnemonic method (dating back to the Ancient Greeks) -- but the specific way it's depicted visually struck me instantly as a reference to BBC Sherlock (in which it's called a "mind palace" because nothing smaller would suffice).

    1. What, Twilight's caricature was both dull and predictable AND genuinely laugh-inducing? :P

      Whoops! Fixed now. I suspect my mind was rebelling against the very idea of using the word "dull" in connection with Fluttershy. :P

      My ignorance of pop culture is near-legendary in this fandom. I never got into Sherlock and I don't watch The Big Bang Theory -- so I was asking myself, "Who's Sheldon?" while looking at early episode reactions.

  2. Mudbriar (and Sheldon) are the sort of characters that can be mildly amusing in a sitcom, but are utterly infuriating IRL.

    I was struck by how many new and detailed backgrounds there were in this episode.

    1. Good point on the backgrounds. The animators earned their corn with this one!