Episode [2.13] – “Baby Cakes”
This week, on My Little Pony…
“Now, Pinkie, are you sure you really understand the responsibility of watching over two babies?”
“I can be responsible. Why, responsibility is my middle name! Pinkie Responsibility Pie.”
“But this time you need to take care of them, not just play with them. You have to be responsible.”
“Yes, I know. I will. I am!”
Poor Scootaloo. This episode brought into stark contrast her inability to fly (something that’s been very strongly implied up to now but not yet explored fully), and she’s not even in the episode. But here we get evidence that pegasi start learning to fly on their own from an incredibly young age. Whether it’s an odd infant quirk similar to the one baby unicorns also apparently have isn’t terribly clear, but unlike the way Twilight and Rarity talk about magic bursts (which seem to be implied to be random brief occurrences that don’t necessarily stick around), the way Rainbow Dash talks about it seems to suggest that most pegasi just take to flying instinctively from that young (or at least the potential is definitely there).
This is the first Pinkie-centric episode of the season, and I absolutely adore it (but then, as mentioned before, I’m totally biased when it comes to these). It works for me on multiple levels – it already wins for me just by nature of being a Pinkie episode, but also this episode is extremely easy for anyone who’s taken a hand at babysitting (especially with very young children) to relate to. If not in a literal sense, at least in the way a lot of it can feel, although there are some definitely some literal examples at play. The phenomenon of children being absolutely fine one moment and like a switch being flipped turn into a screaming crying mess the second their parents walk out the door is something most babysitters probably recognize, as is the concept of finding the one little thing that can calm kids down and using it at every possible moment.
And, of course, the lesson itself is familiar too. I definitely remember being eager to get to be the babysitter finally, getting to feel grown up and thinking how easy a job it had to have been – I mean, it’s just playing with little kids, right? It’s the easiest thing in the wooooooOOH MY GOD KIDS ARE EVIL WHY DID NOBODY TELL ME.
We get two songs this episode! Both are the little Pinkie ditties that were super prevalent in Season 1, but these are actually the first we get for this one, a good halfway into the season. Happy Monthiversary is one of the still fairly rare Pinkie songs sung by Andrea Libman (and of course, is technically sung twice, as it’s a tweaked version of the birthday song Pinkie tries to sing to the twins in the hospital), while Piggy Dance is by Shannon Chan-Kent. Oddly enough, this song was apparently originally intended to be used in the Season 1 finale (presumably Pinkie would have performed it on the stage either in addition to or in place of the Pony Pokey), but was cut for time. I’m not really sure how or where it would have fit in that episode without feeling out of place, and it fits in this episode much more naturally, so it appears to have been the right call. Neither of the songs are anything particularly special, but personally I’m a fan of the short little Pinkie songs (which will bow out more and more in favor of the larger numbers as the series goes on), so it was fun getting to throw back to them again.
I love the humor at play in this episode. Everything from Mr. Cake nervously trying to hoof wave the confusion over him and his wife (both earth ponies) having a pegasus and unicorn as twins with an explanation of recessive genes that he doesn’t quite seem to buy himself, to Pinkie’s normal antics, to the Tom and Jerry-esque slapstick shenanigans that the later half of the babysitting attempt becomes as Pinkie desperately tries to keep the babies under control. Pound and Pumpkin are beyond adorable, and Pumpkin’s habit of chewing on everything in site (except for food) leads to the cutest scene in the episode.
Overall, I love this episode. It’s among my favorite episodes for the season. It’s not quite on par with Party of One as far as Pinkie episodes go, but it’s definitely within the tier just below that for me.
So… I had a lot of trouble trying to deconstruct this episode, because on top of it being slapstick-heavy (which I know I gripe about all too often), it’s also baby-heavy, and I’m not much of a baby person. The “taking care of rowdy/cranky/etc. babies” trope is about on par with “bringing clothes to the laundromat” and “aerating the lawn” when it comes to things I prefer to watch, and unfortunately it didn’t get any better this time around so much of my time re-watching this episode was spent gritting my teeth and waiting for it to be over. It’s not that the episode is poorly written or shoddily made (the gags are amusing and the creepytown atmosphere is terribly well done), it’s just my personal biases and aversions keep getting in the way no matter how hard I try to put them on hold.
Pony genetics: how do they work?! While there have been plenty of attempts to map it out using traditional and non-traditional methods, I think it’s pretty safe to say “dude, don’t overthink this: it’s just a show.” That said, I find Mr. Cake’s explanation followed by “That makes sense, right?” hilarious, as it’s not immediately clear whether he’s trying to say “Did you follow my well-researched explanation?” or “I just wanted to deliver a message from the show staff: idklol.” Or another message altogether, delightfully presented as alt-text above.
I can’t help but think this episode was put in here very specifically for those of the target demographic (girls between the ages of 5 and 10) who recently got a newborn sibling or two, or (as Tessa mentioned) are old enough to think they’re ready to take on actual responsibility beyond being silly with them. I also can’t help but think it holds particular relevance to the unintentional demographic (men and women in their late teens or early twenties) who may be considering having children of their own and aren’t even thinking about the fact that they’ll have to take on such a daunting responsibility. Heck, I’m sure parents of children watching the show will be doing a lot of nodding and “Eeyup, pretty much” while watching this episode; I’ll be interested to read Weston’s take on all this!
I do have to admit, though, the above scene was pretty cute.
No fan-made music inspired by this episode really piques my interest, so instead perhaps you’d be interested in the multi-language version of Happy Monthaversary. It’s always interesting to hear how the different show songs sound in different languages, and to note interesting things like subtle pitch changes (I presume to bring the song closer in line with the voice actress’s natural range?).
The best thing to come out of this episode, in my opinion anyway, is Slice of Life by the very talented egophiliac, a heartwarming and very endearing story about Pound and Pumpkin Cake that takes place several years after this episode when they’re grown up to about the age the CMCs are now. While it’s no longer being updated and reading through the tumblr archive can be a pain at times, I’d heartily recommend it. To me, it makes this episode worthwhile. 😛
Everything in this episode is 100% accurate. Everything.
The thing about My Little Pony is that it is specifically not for me. The show’s target demographic is pre-teen girls, not thirty-something dads. I enjoy it for the strong character development and story arcs and production values, but with the full understanding that it wasn’t created with me in mind. I’m on the outside looking in. Like with kids in a ball pit: They’re having fun, and I can enjoy watching, but if I try to get into the ball pit myself I’ll hurt someone or break something.
That said? The secondary target for this episode is the parents of the kids who watch. I can relate to literally every moment in it, and that really surprised me. Pinkie Pie being loud at the hospital and the nurse who shushes her, getting so tied up with the newborns that the poor Cake parents forget about their other responsibilities, hyper competence with changing and feeding and complete incompetence with the same, the simple freedom of letting someone entertain the kids for a few minutes under your watchful eye followed by the sheer terror of letting that person assume full responsibility for a few hours… yeah. Oh yeah. This is parenting in a nutshell.
The terrified quiver in Pinkie Pie’s voice when she’s first left alone with the kids. The one trick that is the only thing that will make them stop crying. Chewing on everything. Falling asleep spontaneously and waking up thirty seconds later. Escaping from literally everything and wiggling into the weirdest spaces. The transition to horror movie tropes when the foals vanish. Sudden expertise in unpracticed skills. Resorting to locking the children in a cage¹ which they immediately escape from. All accurate.
When Pinkie Pie breaks down and cries? Still accurate. Every parent has hit their wits’ end and sobbed. And you know what? Their kids recognize that. And the kids mirror the things they’ve seen the parents do to cheer them up. It’s amazing and it’s brilliant and that moment made me cry. It’s so well done and completely non-verbal and it’s perfect.
Astonishingly? The only inaccuracy is the diapers. Babies on a liquid diet don’t smell terrible. It’s only when they start on solid foods that the true terror begins. Though I’m not entirely certain if they’re on solid foods or if Pinkie Pie got their snack wrong. I’m pretty sure she just got it wrong for the gag, but I’ll be the first to admit that I really don’t know what month-old ponies eat.
Twilight Sparkle… okay, within the narrative, I understand why Pinkie Pie rejected her help. Pride is at stake, responsibility has been an issue. But for about twenty seconds, I really wished that Pinkie Pie had accepted the help. Acknowledging that you aren’t doing so well is an essential skill right on par with competence. Two ponies make a team, and it’s way easier for two ponies to (metaphorically) juggle one baby, let alone two.
A good babysitter is worth their weight in gold. A house that isn’t a disaster when the parents return is the work of a good babysitter, and Pinkie Pie turns out to be fantastic. She is super responsible when it gets down to brass tacks.
Pinkie Pie in flour has the same color scheme as Nurse Redheart. That’s kinda adorable.
¹ – Seriously, look up Pack ‘n Play. It’s infant prison, and it’s a godsend.