MLP:FiM Episode Reviews: Character and Story Analysis by Half the Battle

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Episode 55: "Too Many Pinkie Pies"

Aired 11/17/2012, written by Dave Polsky (his third episode)
    Storyline:
  • Intro: Pinkie Pie throws off Twilight Sparkle's attempt at a transformation spell in her eagerness to have fun with her friends. As Pinkie races from one friend to another, she quickly wears herself out.
  • Act 1: Pinkie rests up with Fluttershy but is simultaneously invited to join Rainbow Dash at the pool and help Applejack's family raise a barn. Twilight unwittingly prompts Pinkie to visit a hidden "mirror pool" where she clones herself. She visits Rainbow while her clone heads to the barn-raising, only to be stopped by Fluttershy having a picnic with her animals.
  • Act 2: The Pinkie clone freaks out with indecision, and the original Pinkie calms her by taking her to the mirror pool, where they create more duplicates. But the duplicates create duplicates, and dozens of Pinkies swarms over Ponyville. An angry crowd gathers at the library, where Twilight discovers what Pinkie has done.
  • Act 3: As Twilight ponders how to identify the real Pinkie, the original (who by this point isn't sure she is in fact the real one) suggests a boring test to determine who's willing to sacrifice fun to stay with her friends. The Pinkies are herded into the town hall and made to watch paint dry, while Twilight uses a spell to send any distracted Pinkies back to the pond. The real Pinkie persists and writes a letter to Princess Celestia telling what she's learned.

Character: What better way to distinguish between a character's immature and mature traits than by a cloning episode? This is old hat for long-time Star Trek viewers like me, but it's somewhat less common in girls' fiction. The shallower side of Pinkie, the self-absorbed side of her we saw in several first-season episodes such as A Bird in the Hoof, is all about "FUN!" and is the only aspect captured by the clones. It seems that even a few moments without fun is painful for them, and it's all Pinkie can do to keep her first clone from breaking down from the stress of it all. The more mature Pinkie we came to know in the second season is about sharing her fun with others, but she's become so attached to the rest of the Mane Six that she hates to choose between them when they're all doing their own things.

So what made the difference? Through the clones' mistakes with ponies' names, we conclude that the mirror pond does not copy experiences and relationships. Genetically, they're all Pinkie, but we can glean some wisdom from Rei Ayanami of Neon Genesis Evangelion: "I became who I am through the time I've spent and the connections I've made with other people... Contact with people and the passage of time change the shape of my heart." The real Pinkie is the one who's known the other ponies for years. Her relationships aren't just what happens when the writers put her and another pony together. They are part of her and in fact have made her who she is now.

Pinkie's friends are all doing what they do: Twilight's practicing spells, Fluttershy's with her animals, Rarity's designing dresses (possibly to impress the visiting Fancy Pants we see later), Rainbow's lounging around and napping, and Applejack's raising a barn with her family. (How many times have they had to rebuild that barn?) The fact that all of them are eager to spend time with Pinkie and yet none of them are jealous of her having to choose shows some collective character growth since The Ticket Master.


Lesson: As stated above, the difference between having your own fun as your goal versus delighting in your friends is in the foreground throughout, and it's an important lesson. But also present here is the sheer reality of opportunity cost: being with one friend means sometimes being away from the others. Kids can sometimes be possessive of their "best friend," and it's important for growing friends to understand that you can't have a particular friend with you at all times, and it's okay for them to be with someone different. While we do get a letter stating this at the end (and we should cherish what few letters we get from this point forward), the lesson is amply demonstrated by all three acts of the episode.

Logic: Some have objected to Twilight supposedly "killing" all the cloned Pinkies. That doesn't quite fit with the image of the pink misty (Sombra-like?) trail making its way back to its watery home. My interpretation of "sending them back to the pool" draws from the Great Link where the Changelings reside on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: They have separate existence outside the pool ("the ocean becomes a drop"), but within the pool they are all merged together ("the drop becomes the ocean"). I'm not sure whether any fanfic writers have imagined a connection between the mirror pool and the MLP changelings of A Canterlot Wedding, but we've seen Star Trek inspiration before in Swarm of the Century, so it wouldn't surprise me if something like this was discussed among the writers. Connections: The animals' hideout is evidently a shout-out to an excuse gag from Party of One.

Body Count: The first Pinkie clone says, "Did somebody say fun?" So does the next one.

 

Resonance: Pinkie spreads laughter to the viewer in all sorts of ways, including the quirkiness of her language. I also especially enjoyed her slow-motion dive and the rattling of her leg as she sleeps at the end. Her alarm-clock epiphany is one of my favorite sight gags of the whole series. Twilight's orange transformation spells are good for a laugh as well. There's also a decent fake-out moment when a mouse offers the first Pinkie clone some cheese, and from the camera angle it looks like she might have eaten the whole mouse. (At least, I assume it's a fake-out. There's not a follow-up shot to clarify.)

The distinguishing trait of the "real" Pinkie, her love for her friends, shines through in this episode, and her consequent fear of losing her friends gives the story some powerful dramatic moments if you've let the story draw you in. It's rare to see tears streaming down Pinkie's face, so when they do, we feel it.

 

Other Impressions and Final Assessment: These Pinkie episodes must take forever to animate, as much as she moves around. We see a few stock movement cycles among the clones, but the amount of full-body movement here is impressive all by itself. There's a good balance of emotions here as a hilarious episode manages to spend a good deal of time on the drama of the real Pinkie. This gives some weight to the final test where the antics become needed comic relief, and it prevents the episode from being as unrelenting as Baby Cakes was. On a minor note, I enjoyed seeing Winona, Opal, and Tank again, and even Angel, but it's too bad they didn't think to stick Gummy in there somewhere. Anyway, this is definitely an excellent episode and a good choice for the first stand-alone entry of the third season.

 

Too Many Pinkie Pies armor rating: Gold Armor
Ranked 5th of 13 season-three episodes
Ranked 78th of 147 stories overall

Click HERE for Character Appearance List and Screentime.

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