My Little Pony Rewatch Project

Deconstruction is Magic

Episode [2.17] – “Hearts and Hooves Day”

This week, on My Little Pony

“If we can keep Miss Cheerilee and Big Mac from looking into each other’s eyes for one full hour, the love curse will be broken.”

“Only an hour? Pfff, we can pull that off in a second!”

Nothing happened here.  Nnnnope.
In a desperate attempt to make sure Miss Cheerilee has a Very Special Somepony for Hearts and Hooves Day, the Cutie Mark Crusaders do everything they can to hook her up with Big Macintosh. When their efforts turn to arcane alchemical magicks, though, they quickly find themselves facing the downfall of Ponyville brought on by love-induced dereliction of duty or… (retch)… honey-bunny snuggle-babies.


Gerf

And here we have holiday special #3, hot on the heels of definitely-not-Halloween and non-denominational winter celebration involving candy canes, pine trees, and pageants! Further proof that Equestria indeed exists in a parallel universe to our own and/or is actually set on a post-apocalyptic Earth… I mean, how else do you explain doorknobs in a village built by earth ponies?! Hey look, it’s Occam’s razor coming in at full steam… okay okay okay, it’s just a kid’s show! Don’t overthink it, I got it! Just don’t cut me with your parsimonious blade!

Ahem, anyway, so ValentiHearts and Hooves Day has arrived in Ponyville, and love and romance is in the air. At least, that’s what the Cutie Mark Crusaders assume, as they construct a positively absurd card for their favorite teacher, Miss Cheerilee, and present it to her during class: a fine gesture, to be sure, but certainly not nearly as great as the gift Miss Cheerilee’s Very Special Somepony has for her, right? But what’s this? Miss Cheerilee doesn’t have a Very Special Somepony? LE GASP! This is a travesty that must be solved… Cutie Mark Crusader style!

Silly filly, just because I don't have a Very Special Somepony doesn't mean I need to have a heart surgically implanted. Look, you're not even a doctor.

…because as we can see here, solving it Twist style doesn’t seem to be working very well. Seriously, that filly just stabbed a pin through Cheerilee’s chest. Was she trying to take out a vampire or something? You’ve got a couple more seasons to go before you have to worry about any creatures like that.

So what does Cutie Mark Crusader style involve, then? A song, of course! It’s not one that I find myself singing aloud too often, but it’s a fun tune that is just catchy enough to keep you listening without having to worry that it will get hopelessly stuck in your ear (I’m looking at you, Winter Wrap Up, and a song to be named veeeeery soon!). The Crusaders’ antics are endearingly silly: how would you feel if you were at a funeral and someone declared the person giving the eulogy to be “too old,” or if someone poked your butt and declared you were “too uptight?” Or if you were called out for being “strangely obsessed with tubs of jelly?” (Truer, or more bizarre, words have never been spoken, by the way.) By the end of the tune, though, the CMCs find the Perfect Stallion: none other than Big Mac! But wait, isn’t that Applebloom’s broth–NOTHISISTHEPERFECTPLANDONOTRUINIT.

Were it not for Sweetie Belle's "OH COME ON" just beforehoof, I'd say this would have been the best quote of the episode.

“Well this has been… strange.” “Eeyup.”

Understandably to us but totally unfathomably for the CMCs, their matchmaking tactic of a romantic picnic complete with lovely scenery and gentle mood music does precisely nothing to engender any feelings of attraction between Cheerliee and Big Mac (though their ways of getting the two to the location were at least amusingly clever, I’ll give them that). Dejected and grasping for any new ideas, the CMCs soon run into Twilight in the street (literally and figuratively) whereby they learn about a mysterious love potion that seems like just the ticket to get Cheerilee and Big Mac together. A cloud, rainbow, and chicken Scootaloo feather later, the trio has a concoction that’s sure to make their plan come to fruition. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

I dunno, this one's kind of a toss-up. Scoots has the whole eye thing going, AB is rockin' the "No, just no" look, while Sweetie's going strong for the Straightest Tongue Award. 3-way tie?

And then everything went wrong.

Once the CMCs realize that their love potion seems to have brought things up to eleven between Cheerilee and Big Mac, they rush back to the clubhouse and quickly discover that what they made was less of a potion and more of a poison, a brew that once precipitated the downfall of an entire kingdom on account of two lovestruck rulers drunk on the poison’s effects ignoring their royal duties and letting everything crumble around them. Once again, I have to hand it to the animators for their attention to detail even in an otherwise non-action-intensive scene like this: when Sweetie Belle is relaying the tragic tale, Applebloom’s and Scootaloo’s eyes shrink down to pinpricks. When they blink, they are slightly larger than before due to the pupils having dilated due to the brief darkness. That’s awesome attention to detail right there. (Never mind that the iris doesn’t actually dilate… but, I mean, this is a cartoon after all! 😛 )

The remainder of the episode is spent trying to cure the lovebirds by preventing them from looking into each other’s eyes for one hour, and in the process to not repeatedly puke on account of how sweetly sickening they sound when they talk to each other. Suggesting that they get married was actually a pretty clever idea: all the pre-wedding preparations would surely take well over an hour to accomplish. Well, under normal circumstances anyway, because the CMCs made a critical error in forgetting that Big Mac is a friggin’ force of nature: not even a whole house is going to hold that stallion down! What beastly strength. Maybe he’s born with it… maybe it’s Love Poison!™

Thankfully, the CMCs manage (though just barely!) to keep Cheerilee and Big Mac away from each other’s gaze for an hour, and the love poison’s effects wear off (incidentally, while the two are at the bottom of a pit on top of a mattress and wearing a wedding garment, heh). And thus comes the moral of the episode: don’t mess with other’s relationships! I’d actually extrapolate it a bit to include not messing with lack of relationships, too: not having a Very Special Somepony is not necessarily a sign of failure, nor does it necessarily imply loneliness or sadness. Cheerilee seemed perfectly content with her not having a VSS at the beginning of the episode, and while Big Mac can be tough to read (under normal circumstances, anyway), that he responded with a matter-of-fact “Nope” as opposed to a dejected “nope” to the CMC’s query for H&H day plans seems to show he wasn’t particularly perturbed by his single-ness either. Had either Cheerilee or Big Mac elicited the CMC’s assistance in finding a date, then that would be another story; but they didn’t, and as mature ponies they’re more than capable of handling their own affairs in whatever way they feel most comfortable or happy.

Cute episode all around; thumbs up!

As a silly tribute to The Perfect Stallion, take a listen to The Perfect Slam – Quad City DJ’s vs The Cutie Mark Crusaders, which once again shows that Space Jam can be flawlessly mixed with EVERYTHING.

Once you have that out of your system, show Miss Cheerilee some love with Love Me Cheerilee by WoodenToaster and The Living Tombstone, an absolute classic that is both somewhat related and somewhat unrelated to this episode. Then, get up and dance to the amazingly fun Russian cover Эй Черли Черли! by Lenich & Kirya, which I would absolutely love to hear come up in a pub somewhere and would totally get down to were people to suddenly start singing it!

Weston

Happy Singles Awareness Day! That very special day of the year when single Ponies are made very, very, very aware of exactly how single they are. Usually by the presence of couples making schmoopie-eyes at each other and every single restaurant being packed full.

Yes, girls, thank you for pointing that out.

“Really? How could somepony as amazing as you not have a Very Special Somepony on Hearts and Hooves Day?”

 

So the Cutie Mark Crusaders begin a new crusade: Find Cheerilee a Very Special Somepony. It takes a bit of doing, as almost every stallion in town is either inappropriate or in a relationship (including Dr. Hooves, which I find entirely accurate). Eventually, though, they isolate the perfect pony:

As seen through Weston-vision.

“Wait a minute, let me get this straight. Are you talkin’ about my brother?”

I LOVE Big Macintosh. May have gotten a little excited when I saw his name in the episode synopsis. He’s taciturn, strong, durable, solid sense of humor, and he can deliver a straight line with a straight face. What mare wouldn’t want him as their Very Special Somepony? …someone looking for long conversation, I suppose. So when Cheerilee identifies the Crusaders’ plan and tells him about it, he laughs! He recognizes how silly the situation is, how uncomfortable Cheerilee is with it, and he laughs. Because that’s what friends do when someone tries to set them up romantically.

The Crusaders are undeterred by platonic friendship, however, and go ahead with Operation: Magic Potions Make Everything Better Always. Certainly they’ve worked before.

The first sign that everything has gone sideways is Big Mac talking. Using full sentences. That end with “schmoopie”. It’s not the first time he’s used full sentences, and I’ve thought it weird that he’s been limited to “yup” and “nope” this season, but it’s worked as a running gag. A little research, specifically reading the second part of the book that the love poison recipe was in, shows the long term negative effects of being permanently lost in someone’s eyes, and the Crusaders set off on another other crusade; undoing the effects of the previous crusade.

Curing the poison is simple enough, just keep the loveponies apart for a full hour. A little trickery goes a long way, and a shopping trip for wedding materials consumes most of the required time. As Gerf notes, however, Big Mac is a force of nature, and undeterred by snares that would have slowed Pepé Le Pew to a short hop. Cheerilee is no slouch either, bashing through a barricade and a wall that would have stopped a bunny stampede.

In the end, the trickery and traps and snares are effective, and the curse is broken. Most amusingly, Cheerilee assigns Big Mac’s chores to the Crusaders so that they can spend some time together picnicking at the same gazebo that the Crusaders lured them to twice. Maybe they’ll develop a relationship naturally? Maybe they’ll stay friends. Either way, it’s up to them, and not those meddling kids and their pink drink of schmoopie-doom.

Twilight Sparkle is the only one of the Mane 6 to appear in this episode, and I’m 100% okay with that. These five characters carry the story all on their own, and I love a series that treats it’s secondaries as well as the primaries.

The song is pretty great, and gives a quick tour of the bachelor stallions in Ponyville. Inconsiderate Dr. Hooves (still mad at you about Martha Jones, Doctor), a poor pony with a trash can cutie mark, the one weirdly obsessed with jelly… So many ponies in Ponyville.

Altogether, a fun episode. Not my favorite Big Mac showing, but I’m still super pleased that he got a showcase.

 

 

 

Tessa

This is not an episode. This is, in fact, a cunningly crafted piece of anti-shipping propaganda snuck into the show by… the illuminati, or something, I dunno. But that’s not the point! This devious, deceptively cute and innocent attempt at pushing the anti-shipping agenda is a travesty! And I, for one, cannot sit idly by and watch this mud be slung. The enjoyment, nay, the very future of the up and coming generation of fans and their ability to decide that two ponies love each other very much regardless of what pesky things like canon or common sense dictate must be defended. And I am here to take up that mantle!

…okay, so I don’t actually know where I’m going with this to enough of an extent to run with it for a full post. Dang. Abort joke!

“Oh, I don’t have a special somepony at the moment.”

But yes, this is one of those episodes that winds up with some rather humorous meta-commentary on the nature of the fandom, as the very easy takeaway lesson from this episode can be interpreted as “shipping is bad and you should feel bad”. Not entirely the actual lesson, necessarily (which I guess actually boils down more to “being single is totes fine and don’t poison your teacher”, or something), but in a fandom that does an awful lot of shipping when left to its own devices, its hard not to notice the amusing side jab.

Of course, it doesn’t stop me in the slightest from refusing to ever take the shipping goggles off.

Sweetie Belle really kind of steals the show in this episode, from her part in the song (Michele Creber, who voices Apple Bloom, does Sweetie Belle’s singing voice and so pulls double duty in the song), to her amusingly over the top reactions to things happening, to generally being the ringleader in the CMC’s bad idea (which is the start of a bit of a trend, as Sweetie Belle will often be at the wheel of some of the more misguided plans the group comes up with.

As Weston noted, Big Macintosh’s “stallion of few words” trait has sort of been a bit flanderized as the series has gone on, but it does make the occasions where he does have things to say stand out a lot more, such as here, where it’s the first sign that something isn’t quite right.

“I sure am glad you found those shovels.”

I like the concept of the love poison. Love potions are one of those standard go-to ideas when dealing with magic, and it’s usually on the morally iffy and problematic side, and I like that the problem inherent with this example of it is the very fact that it does exactly what it says on the tin. The two ponies become hopelessly infatuated with each other, to the point where they become completely incapable of doing anything at all other than staring dreamily into each other’s eyes. Applebloom’s diagnosis of the level of disaster in store for Ponyville as a result of thier actions seems like a bit of an overreaction (the farm would still have Applejack, at least, although admittedly that didn’t work out so well before, and it’s a little vague as to whether or not Ponyville has another teacher besides Cheerilee), but having the two lovebirds reduced to babbling idiots for the rest of their lives is bad enough to warrant the three fillies working to fix their mistake.

And in the end, of course, we wind up with Cheerliee and Big Mac heading off together for the day anyways. Are they playing it up for the sake of antagonizing the Crusaders a bit after what happened, or might there actually be something there sparking between them? For now, we don’t really know, but it is at least really amusing to watch the three make a complete 180 on the idea of the two being together.

Also the entire second half of this episode is Twilight’s fault. Seriously, she was way too willing to hand over a book that she explicitly knew contained a recipe for a disaster-causing potion to three kids (one of whom had previously abused a potion before) with these expressions on their faces:

“I… don’t suppose we could borrow that book for a little while, do ya?”

Seriously, Twilight, what were you thinking?

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