True story when I first decided to write this review, it was simply going to read, "She's just being Pinkie Pie", as I felt that this would be the perfect way to summarise her detailed and intricate character. But then I figured that that would be taking the easy way out, and thus decided to write a full-size review for Pinkie Pie. After all, she deserves just as much analysis as every other character within the mane cast, even if trying to rationalise Pinkie Pie's behaviour is something of an impossible task at times.
Pinkie Pie is the sort of character that makes a fan-base. Whereas some characters rightfully deliver their own iconic lines and meme-worthy phrases, Pinkie Pie is in a league of her own. This is because her character is noticeably different from the rest of the mane cast, placing her in a position almost outside of the usual narrative of "Friendship is Magic". She can be a narrator for events outside of her control; she can break the fourth wall with glances to the audience; and all the while she retains her quirky randomness that many have come to adore.
From the very beginning of the show during the Pilot we get a feel for Pinkie Pie's character. Upon meeting Twilight Sparkle for the first time, she lets out an astonished gasp and then dashes away, only to return later on in her natural setting: a party. Although, like many characters during the Pilot, her behaviour is exaggerated, with her talking almost non-stop in an overbearing manner that frustrates Twilight Sparkle, she soon, by the second episode of the Pilot, finds her happy medium and stays there. She still delivers the same lines of bizarreness but also finds her special niche in helping her terrified friends face their fears. In this song, "Giggle at the Ghosties", Pinkie Pie also reveals possibly her biggest natural talent: singing!
Yes, a large part of Pinkie Pie's appeal is that she often breaks out into song. Whilst this could come across as cringe-worthy, the fact of the matter is that the music is of such a high quality, and Pinkie Pie's personality is so absorbed in each lyric, that they are amusing and enjoyable to behold. Throughout the entire season Pinkie Pie sings in the hopes of aiding in a situation: whether it be encouraging little fillies such as Apple Bloom about the joys of baking cupcakes, boosting the morale of Fluttershy in leaping across a chasm, or even attempting to avoid a flat-out war by uniting two divided cultures, she's always there armed with her wonderful singing voice that screams cult following.
It's not just her singing that makes her so popular, either. Her mannerisms, although riddled with good intentions, are often incredibly unpredictable, which leads to some humorous, if at times scary, outcomes. And so we see situations, such as in "Green Isn't Your Colour" where Pinkie Pie speaks about the importance of keeping promises a noble request before popping up randomly whenever Twilight Sparkle is about to break said promise. She appears out of a bowl of sponges, crooning, "FOREVER!", and then disappears down into the soft, lofty depths once more. She pokes her head out of an apple stall and threatens Twilight, biting into the apple as if to symbolise what will happen to Twilight should she break her promise and confess Rarity's true feelings to Fluttershy. And, at the end of this episode, she breaks logic by appearing in the mirror and shaking her head in disappointment towards Twilight Sparkle when she does eventually break a promise that she made to Spike. The important thing is that Pinkie Pie is the only character who can get away with demonstrating behaviour like this. If any other character was in a situation where they performed the impossible, it would be met with scepticism; the fact that it is Pinkie Pie necessitates the understanding and cooperation of the audience.
To argue that Pinkie Pie finds herself in odd situations is perhaps incorrect; it would be more appropriate to assume that Pinkie Pie is in charge, and deliberately puts us, the audience, into these situations. It's hard to imagine anything surprising Pinkie Pie. She seems to be in absolute control of herself, for the most part, which in turn gives her a generally positive demeanour. She is the only character with the knowledge to rid Ponyville of Parasprites in "Swarm of the Century", even appearing at the end of the episode with a comical trombone mirroring the rather unfortunate state that Ponyville is left in after the Parasprites ravage it. And, the fact that she is almost always bright and bubbly emphasises the fact that she's always up for a party. Whenever there is a party to be had, it is Pinkie Pie at the forefront of the events. Thus the party thrown for Gilda in "Griffin the Brush-Off" is Pinkie's doing, and the celebration for Diamond Tiara's Cutie Mark is, once again, organised by Pinkie Pie. Her optimism is perhaps her greatest asset: when Apple Bloom continuously burns cupcakes, Pinkie Pie happily eats them up. When Twilight Sparkle refuses to believe her twitches as being predictions of the future in "Feeling Pinkie Keen", Pinkie Pie's jovial response of, "Okey dokey lokey!" is enough to inform the audience that she takes things in her stride.
If it sounds like Pinkie Pie has a large amount of screen presence throughout the season, then this is because, quite simply, it is true: Pinkie Pie arguably has more screen-time than any other character, bar, perhaps, Twilight Sparkle. If she isn't the main focus of the episode as seen in "Feeling Pinkie Keen" and "Party of One" - then she is of a significant role nonetheless. Thus in "Fall Weather Friends" she narrates the race alongside Spike delivering some typically Pinkie-esque statements in the process and in "Over a Barrel" she infiltrates the buffalo village with Rainbow Dash. However, in this particular episode although it seems as if Rainbow Dash has a clear reason to wish to get revenge on the buffalo, Pinkie Pie just seems to be there for the sake of it. It's not that she tags along, but, as previously stated, it is as if she is there because it suited her at that particular moment. Pinkie Pie doesn't need to follow reason and logic in the same way that other ponies do, which explains why she can arguably predict the future with her bodily impulses and why she can appear out of nowhere on Scootaloo's scooter: the simple answer is because she is Pinkie Pie. In the face of Pinkie, any argument is invalid.
A lot of commotion is made about her personality shift in "Party of One", as this is the moment in the show, albeit almost at the very end of the season, where an audience's perception of Pinkie Pie will be altered. Whereas previously she has only hinted at more sinister impulses scowls at Rarity whilst saying, "Whose dress is this?", for example in "Party of One" the more maniacal temperaments of Pinkie Pie are evidenced. After throwing a party for Gummy, her pet alligator, Pinkie Pie decides to throw another party the following day. However, as her friends are planning a party for Pinkie Pie's birthday an event that she has completely forgotten herself they must invent excuses to avoid spending time with Pinkie. What ensues is that Pinkie starts becoming suspicious of her friends, spying on them and finding out that they are in fact avoiding her. The gradual state of depression that Pinkie then enters is fascinating in its execution and morbid in its presentation. What is interesting is that she places the words that she doesn't wish to hear that her friends don't enjoy her parties and do not wish to be her friends any more into Spike's mouth, so that when he is forced to say them, she feels a degree of success in having solved the mystery...before her hair deflates and she enters a psychotic state.
I will dwell further on her fractured psyche shortly, but at first it seems necessary to delve into why this episode is so significant in the grand context of Pinkie Pie. She is, prior to this episode, the sort of character that appears to be beyond sadness and depression. At times she gets frustrated, such as when the other ponies won't help her collect instruments to fend off the Parasprites and when Twilight accuses her of being jealous of Gilda, but she never appears to be the sort of character who will undergo any major personality change. Whilst Applejack works herself too hard, Rarity entertains moments of melodrama, Twilight obsesses over Princess Celestia's approval and stresses herself out and Rainbow Dash enters a panic over failing to deliver the Sonic Rainboom, Pinkie Pie seems a far more grounded character who seems beyond letting things get to her. Thus it is shocking when in this episode she enters such a significant state of decline. It becomes obvious to us from this point onwards that Pinkie Pie ultimately throws parties because she needs the approval of her friends and the company that they provide. Subtle things, such as Pinkie Pie's explanations in previous episodes that she must know every pony in Ponyville in order to keep up to date, suddenly gain more semblance; the result being that if Pinkie Pie is isolated at all from her friends or finds herself in an unfamiliar position, she suddenly loses the strength that she usually demonstrates. There are a lot of people who mask their inner emotions with humour, and Pinkie Pie serves as the most literal embodiment of this sort of individual. Let us not forget that one of the only times prior to this that we see her in a saddened state of mind is when she is unable to hang out with Rainbow Dash in "Griffin the Brush Off" because Gilda takes her place. This is surely the behaviour of a pony who needs to be there for her friends and relies on them as much as they rely on her. No amount of quirky randomness can detract from this point, which is arguably explained by her childhood.
Although Pinkie Pie's childhood, as explained in "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" is arguably a complete fabrication, as we, the audience, have no other context in which to judge Pinkie's home-life, we have to assume that this is the truth. And, taking this as truth, we learn that Pinkie Pie had a dull childhood without laughter and sunshine. She worked on a rock farm in a barren landscape until she discovered colour and excitement from Rainbow Dash's Sonic Rainboom. Following this she introduced the notion of parties and games to her family and changed things for the better. Given that her childhood as a little filly was, for the majority of the time, a disappointing and lacklustre one, it makes sense that the event that brought laughter and happiness into her life a party becomes the catalyst for how she wishes to bring laughter to other people. In the absence of a party, Pinkie Pie returns to the depressed state she was in as a filly, emphasised by her hair going straight once again in "Party of One", just as it was when she was younger. The fact that her physical appearance returns to what it was like when she was living a boring existence suggests why she would wish to avoid this at all costs, and live to entertain others with her parties and songs.
And thus, returning to her psychotic state of mind in "Party of One", many viewers make a big deal out of this and find humour in her actions. And although it can be amusing to see her personifying buckets of turnips and bags of flour, it is far more emotional than funny. The fact that Pinkie almost cries when she thinks that her friends do not wish to associate with her any more is heartbreaking; that she attempts to replace them with household items and then vents her frustrations about the other ponies through these make-believe characters simply illustrates how necessary communication and friends are to Pinkie Pie. She cannot be without guests and people to entertain, and when she is, she is truly lost. Forget the notion that Pinkie Pie's insanity here is amusing, and especially discard the over-exaggeration of the notorious "Cupcakes" fan-fiction, which to me was such a banal read that both failed to offend and to do Pinkie Pie justice. Pinkie Pie's love for parties is more than just a simple act of dalliance; entertaining is part of who she is, and she absolutely requires people to need her and want her company.
In a return to form, during "The Best Night Ever", Pinkie Pie once again demonstrates her insatiable need to party, at the detriment of the formal occasion that the Grand Galloping Gala normally is. That Pinkie Pie can leap up on stage, steal Octavia's cello and dance around further shows her in her natural element. It's almost unnecessary that the guests do not approve of her actions; in Pinkie Pie's world, their reluctance to get involved just encourages her to put more effort in. Her cheeky little cheerleader, "YEAH!" at the end of the "Pony Pokey" song raises a cheeky smile every time, but this sort of behaviour should not detract from the fact that, like all of the ponies at the Gala, Pinkie Pie built up in her mind the sort of incredible party that the Gala would be, and does not wish to allow disappointment to ruin her evening. Although at the end of the "I'm At the Grand Galloping Gala" song Pinkie's sadness is obvious, like the rest of the cast, she is strong enough to continue trying to make the evening what she envisioned it to be, even if she's fighting a losing battle. This shows a strength to Pinkie Pie that further emphasises her need to party, not just to entertain others, but to give herself meaning.
Pinkie Pie does entertain the other ponies, even if they are not always aware of it. Her relationship with the rest of the mane cast is almost entirely positive; sometimes they get frustrated with her, but generally they accept her for who she is. Rainbow Dash, who at first dislikes Pinkie Pie and finds her annoying to be around, soon learns that they have more in common than she first thought, and Twilight Sparkle, perhaps the most intolerant pony towards Pinkie Pie, learns that even if she cannot explain and rationalise Pinkie's behaviour, it's better and more productive to admit defeat and submit to Pinkie's ways. Even mature ponies such as Applejack make it apparent that, although nopony understands why, when Pinkie Pie's tail is twitching it's best to heed the warning.
In light of all of this, Pinkie Pie has rightfully become the most prominent example of why the show caters to both younger viewers and older viewers alike. Whereas some of her actions, such as bouncing around everywhere with a spring in her step and the cute token sound effect that goes with this, are universal in their appeal, and a younger audience will respect Pinkie Pie's enthusiasm for enjoyable parties and cakes, older viewers will sympathise with the deeper meanings behind why Pinkie Pie behaves as she does. Part of her behaviour is certainly a way of sublimating her insecurities and masking her inner demons, but there can be no denying that various aspects of her behaviour are beyond comprehension and analysis. When Pinkie Pie keeps a secret, she locks it up with a key, drops said key into a hole, builds a house on top of the hole and then moves into the house; when she eats too much fudge she gets a pudge that won't budge. To rationalise the irrational and deliberately obtuse would be reductive, because Pinkie Pie's appeal comes from her ability to surprise and entertain.
She is amusing, genuinely, and her bright-eyed expressions and jocular behaviour are incomparable. She is adorable when she needs to be, but at the same time retains her more secluded side. When Pinkie Pie is around, there is rarely a dull moment; having her sing the brilliant "Equestria Girls" advertising campaign adds fuel to the fire that is the real-world/animation cross-over of Pinkie. She has the fastest, catchiest voice and is rarely without a spring in her step; if ever a viewer feels sad they can rely on Pinkie Pie to cheer them up, as long as they consider that, at times when the party comes to a stop, Pinkie Pie requires the same gesture from them.