Episode [1.24] – “Owl’s Well That Ends Well”
This week, on My Little Pony…
“I’ve also packed a telescope, apples, bananas, fruit punch, and my freshly-baked, homemade, triple-decker, nut-crazy vanilla cream cookies!”
“I can see that. Once again, you’ve read my mind, Spike. And that is why you are my number one assistant.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.”
When an eager owl starts helping out around Twilight’s place, Spike starts to worry his job, his home, and his friendship are in danger. Enter: the moustache he puts on so as to twirl.
Have you taken a good look at Spike’s butt lately? It’s striking just how much it resembles Spike himself. Mostly due to Spike being a butt. That’s what this episode is, essentially. “Spike’s a Butt”. Where, through the act of being a butt, he learns just how much of a butt he is and resolves to be much less of a butt.
Not that this is a bad thing. Spike’s butt-buttedness is a key aspect of his character, so I’m glad they didn’t butt away from featuring it in all its butt glory. And unlike earlier feature episodes, where someone had to learn a lesson, it doesn’t feel like his buttness is cranked up to an unreasonable buttitude just to make the lesson all the more obvious. No, he’s pretty much his typical butt as he finds ways to gripe about his job even as he excels at it and gloats about how he’s Twilight’s #1 Assistant, and eggs everyone else into continuing to offer him heaps of praise. He’s never mean about any of it, just a butt.
Owlowiscious (whoever named him is a butt) is exactly the wakeup call Spike needs to be a lesser butt, even as the feathered foil butts Spike up to further butt levels. Owlowwwiss… Olwowll… The Owl is highly efficient as an assistant, swooping about as a blur of retrieval, and his blank, neck-swiveling stare and limited vocabulary of “Who” understandably gets on Spike’s nerves and makes him feel The Owl is out to replace him, and I actually like that this isn’t the case, that The Owl is just there to cover nights so the frequently exhausted Spike can be a fully rested assistant during the day. The Owl is a friend, and genuinely wants to help and do a good job for Twilight, who let him in on a cold night. The Owl is a lovely character, it’s just that Spike is being a butt full of paranoia.
Spike does go pretty far in his butt tactics, donning the nefarious cloak, top hat, and Snidely moustache of the most insidious of butts as he sets about sabotaging The Owl, in a way that makes absolutely no sense but is so caught in the passion of the moment that it works for Spike. He steals Oplesss… Opalesasasa… Rarity’s cat’s toy mouse and horribly attempts to make it look like a real mouse that The Owl bloodily tore open on Twilight’s bedroom floor. Forgetting he shouldn’t work on setting the scene while Twilight and The Owl are still at home as, of course, they see him right in the midst of tearing open a pillow to throw some feathers around.
As I said, it works here because we see Spike build to the extremes of such butt, we see him wear himself out attempting to find a new quill for Twilight (don’t know what’s funnier, the Quill & Sofa store, or Pinkie concocting an entire alphabet of the wrong thing), only for The Owl to just plop off one of its own feathers, and then The Owl points out a book Spike tried to hide after torching it with a sneeze. In the paranoid haze from his butt, he feels he’s being sabotaged and set up at every turn, so him trying to lash back with the same tactics feels right. As does him absolutely failing at it and running away from home after a scolding from Twilight leaves him feeling unloved and unneeded.
In a nice twist, he finds himself in the cave of a dragon, and we see there isn’t a whole lot of brotherhood among that species, as the big dragon reacts with nothing but hostile territoriality upon finding a tiny, young cousin nibbling on his jewel horde. I don’t entirely buy The Owl being able to kick the giant dragon’s flank, but it is a nice moment, and instantly reveals the widths of butt to which Spike has spread himself.
It’s a very nice episode, opening on a nice sequence of everyone out to see a meteor shower (love seeing the Cutie Mark Crusaders interacting among the adults in a much more leisurely way outside of their mad quest) and wraps on Spike getting the honor of writing the lessonly letter to Princess Celestia. If only he weren’t just too butt tired to make it to the end.
Spike-centric episodes tend to have a reputation amongst the fanbase for not being particularly compelling in their own right. In part I think it’s because, similar to CMC episodes, the Mane Six tend to take a background role for the most part and don’t get to interact much with the plot in their usual capacity. Unlike CMC episodes, however, Spike doesn’t have two other adorable cohorts to bounce off of, and largely has to try to carry the episode himself. Whether or not this works in large part depends on your tolerance level of Spike’s butt-tendencies, both just being a butt outright as well as his tendency to have the buttmonkey status occasionally fall on him.
Personally, while this episode isn’t anywhere particularly high on list, I do think it’s enjoyable. While I do kind of begrudge it a bit for its spot (I always want to go straight to Party of One from Cutie Mark Chronicles), I do think it’s placed really well in the series, as this episode has a lot to do with Spike’s relationship with Twilight, and we’re coming straight on the heels of seeing how the two were united. The two are basically family, and while she was still pretty much a child when it happened, last episode we saw that she effectively birthed him (not quite literally, although she definitely hatched him and she’s likely the first thing he saw upon hatching right before getting an unexpected view of the rest of Canterlot). The fact that she’s probably not quite old enough for the role is why the two likely see each other more as siblings (Spike has specifically denied seeing her as his mother in a previous episode), but there is very much a maternal angle to Twilight’s relationship to the baby dragon, and this episode plays out in a way not all that unlike a child trying desperately to assert his worth and attract his mother’s attention once a new member of the family has come into the picture.
Of course, a lot of it also has to do with Spike’s ego being wrapped up in his position as Twilight’s irreplaceable assistant, and his craving for attention and praise in general. I have to imagine the guilt over burning Twilight’s book has him just a touch paranoid, also. He’s waiting for that particular shoe to drop, and so of course sees everything Owlowiscious brings as a threat to his position. I do really like that it doesn’t take much of a perspective shift to realize that everything Spike is seeing as hostile really is the owl just attempting to help for his own benefit. Even finding the burned book was more than likely just something Twilight asked him to double check in case Spike had missed it, but of course Spike takes it as the owl specifically seeking out the book in order to rat him out (which makes no sense objectively as Owlowiscious wouldn’t have been around to see that incident happen in the first place).
All of this, of course, just leads to Spike going completely off the rails in an effort to get back at the owl, complete with donning a cloak, top hat, and mustache to complete the look for his villainy. His plan, while kind of dark in its concept, is incredibly silly, and watching him cackle evilly and twirl his mustache while carrying it out is one of the most fun parts of the episode. I love that he not only gets caught red-handed while in full Snidely Whiplash getup, but that the shot is actually held for a while as he realizes the trouble he’s about to be in and yet he still tries to get away with pushing it off onto the owl despite the fact that it’s clearly on Twilight’s back and has likely been with her for a while. He knows he’s sunk but he still tries it just to see if it’ll stick.
- Love that we get to see the CMC at the meteor shower. It makes a ton of sense for Sweetie Belle and Applebloom to be there as they’re with their sisters, but Scootaloo gets to join in on the fun. While she’s not actually related to any of the Mane Six, she’s ecstatic to be able to hang out with the closest thing to a big sister she seems to have in Rainbow Dash.
- Love the glimpse back into typical dragon-dom that we get in the Everfree Forest when Spike runs away. Spike isn’t just a rare occurrence in pony society, his upbringing as a dragon is completely different from what other dragons go through. This isn’t the first time there’s been a nod towards the differences between him and other dragons, and it won’t be the last.
- Fluttershy has the context for the entire problem right off the bat and Twilight doesn’t really listen. Had she taken her a bit more seriously, things might have gone a bit more smoothly with Spike.
- In the context of Twilight being a mother figure for Spike, his running away, particularly with his footprints leading into the forest, has to be particularly terrifying for her. Thankfully in the midst of his evil plan he managed to get his feet completely covered in ketchup and left a trail she could follow.
Today’s episode: brought to you by the letter BUTT.
On the surface, this episode is a silly romp through paranoia of being overshadowed by a newcomer. To Take Tessa’s mulling of Twilight’s “family” a bit further, I can see Owlowiscious’s appearance as akin to a new baby boy coming into a family. Twilight sees the new family member as an equal, while Spike sees the new “little brother” as a rival for the attention that would be otherwise paid unto him. Spike’s antics are absolutely over-the-top and ridiculous, butt in his warped mental state they’re entirely justifiable if not outright necessary to win back Twilight’s favor (which, of course, was never lost in the first place). I mean, come on: setting things on fire with only the power of your mind is a dead giveaway that things have gone from ludicrous to plaid.
Butt while the insanity is playing out on center stage, behind the scenes we see some wonderful character-building that reminds me why I love this show so much. Specifically, the meteor shower scene. Now, I should preface this part by saying that throughout my childhood and still to this day, my friends have been just that: friends. Not that there’s anything wrong with friends being friends, but I did always admire those folks whose friends were practically family, be it out of necessity or just personality. Having a picnic under a meteor shower and marveling at the wonders of the universe are activities I equate with family; that the Mane Six (and Spike and the CMCs as well) are enjoying those together show that they’ve transcended the friends-to-family barrier, at least in my mind anyway. And that’s a beautiful thing (the transcendence, not my mind).
Another little bit of character development that slid under the radar: Rarity talking to Opal about wanting to get to Fluttershy’s tea party on time. We caught a glimpse of those two’s relationship back in Green Isn’t Your Color, and it’s wonderful to see that thread continue a bit in this episode, even if only in passing. While the Mane Six are friends on the whole, the individuals’ personal relationships with one another are all unique and nuanced, which makes for some wonderfully complex character interplay opportunities. (Or shipping fuel, butt that’s up to you to decide.)
Oh, and can’t forget Scoots. As Tessa touched on previously, her inclusion in the meteor shower scene does a few things: it cements her as part of the friends-to-family transcendence, and it provides more evidence that she sees Rainbow Dash as her big sister (even if Dashie doesn’t appear to reciprocate the feeling). There’s so much speculation in the fandom about Scootaloo being an orphan or running from family issues or the likes, and this episode (and this scene in particular) helps fuel those speculations even more.
Did I ever say that Equestrian dragons are awesome? As in, adult dragons are awe-inspiringly huge, if perhaps not the best-tempered. Just think for a minute what it would be like to live in a world where some other sapient species was a gazillion times larger and more powerful than your species could ever be, and you were pretty much at their mercy were they ever to decide it’s time for your town to be lunch. Whew! I bring this up again because the above scene plays a big part in the fanfic I mentioned in the previous deconstruction called It Takes a Village. If you haven’t read it yet, I still can’t recommend it enough.
And here’s a bit of amusing (if irritating) trivia: the Quills and Sofas shop (which I agree is brilliant) makes an appearance in the My Little Pony Gameloft game. Now, shops in that game can produce two different items. So, the Quills and Sofas shop would naturally produce quills and sofas, right? WRONG! It makes quills and luxury pillows. LUXURY. PILLOWS. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeepic faaaaaaaaaaaaail.
All in all, this was a fun episode. Spike’s a butt, Owlowiscious is awesome (and a bit of a troll), and in the end everypony/dragon/owl is still friends. I’d try to dig into the moral a bit more, butt there’s not much more to say beyond what Spike write in his (truncated) letter to Princess Celestia. I wonder if scrolls sent via dragonfire still retain drool-caused sogginess?
To wrap up this episode of butts, click on “BUTT” at the beginning of my section (warning: butts), and/or check out Everypony Got Spiked by Dreadsabre. Fun song sourced from a fun episode!