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

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Episode 110: "The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows"

Aired 10/17/2015, written by Gillian M. Berrow (her first episode)
    Storyline:
  • Intro: By a chance look at a special cake order, Pinkie Pie learns that Shining Armor and Princess Cadance are expecting a baby, but she is told the information is top secret.
  • Act 1: The Mane Six meet at the castle where Twilight announces her brother's impending visit and shows off her preparations for his room. Pinkie struggles to keep her secret and then goes to shut herself in her room, but Mr. Cake asks her to make some deliveries in town.
  • Act 2: Pinkie makes her deliveries surreptitiously and then fulfills some other promises, but everything reminds her of the royal baby announcement. Her friends notice her nervousness and press her to open up to them, but Shining Armor and Cadance's arrival interrupts her surrender.
  • Act 3: Shining Armor sets up a scavenger hunt to reveal the secret to Twilight, with Pinkie anxiously pushing the team throughout the hunt. The game ends with the announcement and a party at Sugarcube Corner.

Character: In many ways, Pinkie is the most "different" of all the main characters, but this time around she's at her most relatable. We've all held secrets that were hard to keep because they were so exciting. That's certainly true of the show's creators, whose knowledge of the series and its surprises is more than a year beyond ours. As a naturally expressive pony who delights in others' happiness, and one who is known to blurt things out from time to time, Pinkie Pie must find keeping secrets especially difficult. But way back in season one it was established that Pinkie understands the importance of a friend's trust, and when she knows that something is a secret to be kept, she takes it as seriously as any of her other responsibilities. But that understanding doesn't make secret-keeping any easier, and we're treated to her efforts to handle the stress until literally the last minute of the episode.

This story reinforces our impression that Pinkie is very self-aware and works out her issues through a spoken monologue to anyone who will listen. Her sounding board doesn't have to be a pony, and given the nature of her secret, she has only Gummy to talk to anyhow.

It's refreshing to see again how close Twilight is to her B.B.B.F.F., and her excitement about being an aunt is adorable. (Speaking of ants, the farm is noticeably lacking in equipment or other decor. Apparently Twilight couldn't find tractors that small, either.) Shining gets some much-needed character development, and I'm thrilled that he still has a child's heart beneath his noble exterior. The scavenger hunt tradition gives us a precious glimpse into their background. That and the guest room show how attentive they are to each other's interests.

Pinkie's "forever" role from Green Isn't Your Color gets replayed here to Pinkie herself, courtesy of Rarity, who proves to be chillingly adept at issuing a serious warning. This story gives us some time with Mayor Mare out of public view, as well as Featherweight's first speaking role. Finally, the Cutie Mark Crusaders are already bored just one episode after the epic life-purpose story that said their journey will never end. There could be something there about wanting badly to help but not having anypony TO help, but it's more likely just ironic humor.


Lesson: The moral, in Berrow's own words via Twitter: "However exciting someone else's news may be, their joy is much greater by delivering it themselves. You shouldn't take that away!" As is typical for MLP, the story doesn't paper over the challenges involved in doing the right thing. Only Pinkie's dedication to Twilight's greater joy could allow her to endure the pressure of her secret, and even then, Pinkie reaches her limit. Then she's forced to go beyond even that, but she does. And that dedication is the episode's secondary lesson.

I like all the Mane Six for different reasons: I personally find Applejack the most admirable, Fluttershy the sweetest and cutest, Pinkie Pie the funniest, Rainbow Dash the most awesome and the pony with the best character arc, Rarity the most complex and interesting, and Twilight Sparkle the easiest to identify with, thanks to our similar temperaments. But the past couple seasons have also impressed me with Pinkie's noble-hearted determination. In some episodes she may be used as zany comic relief, but stories like this keep her crazy while still making her a role model.


Resonance: Since the secret is a joyful one, our episode is full of fun and happiness. The only serious element is the tension; I credit the animation and the music for driving that pressure into the very soul of the viewer, so that we feel it along with Pinkie Pie–most keenly on the Golden Oak chandelier and during Twilight's slow-as-molasses thought process in Sugarcube Corner. I'm sure most viewers breathed a huge sigh of relief when Cadance and Shining Armor finally made their announcement.

Any viewing of this episode brings near-constant laughter, oh noes, and general scaring of nearby small animals. My top ten bits of funny from this episode: Pumpkin shushing Pinkie, a ponified version of Action Comics #1, an impressive use of the hiding-behind-a-stick gag, the Groucho Marx/Fluttershy hybrid, the expy of the Clarinet Polka that plays during the stealth sequence, the sound of the balloon baby bottle popping into Scootaloo's mouth, Pinkie mimicing the Airdancer, Shining Armor's guest room montage, the Mayor about to lose it as the Mane Six stroll into town hall, and Pinkie apparently disassembling into her Flash puppet parts and putting herself back together afterward.

 

Other Impressions and Final Assessment: It's a one-note story and we know what we're in for from the beginning, but the rapid-fire humor and Pinkie's intensity never let up, keeping us on the edge of our seats for the full duration. As an author of chapter books and Daring Do novels, Berrow's by no means new to MLP, but as an episode writer, she's hit a home run her first time out. Not a single line of Pinkie's seems off, and she lets plenty of other characters have their little moments as well. I hope to see more from Gillian in the future. As for The One Where Pinkie Knows, while it lacks a strong dramatic element (and isn't intended to have one), it's one of the best pure-fun episodes. I rank it just above Bloom & Gloom, about midway between Party Pooped and Too Many Pinkie Pies.

 

The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows armor rating: Diamond Vest
Ranked 15th of 26 season-five episodes
Ranked 65th of 147 stories overall

Click HERE for Character Appearance List and Screentime.

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