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Spike: Hey there, Lickety Split! That's a pretty cool ball you got there! Did you know it's my birthday?
Written by M.A. Larson
Lights dim around the library as Twilight Sparkle prepares for the highly arduous task of... re-shelving her books. Her concentration is broken, however, as Spike giggles in anticipation of eating a near-flawless fire ruby for his birthday dinner next week. When Rarity drops by, she spots the gem, and her admiration turns to distress when she learns he plans to eat the precious jewel. Sensing her discomfort, Spike graciously gives it to her instead, and earns a peck on the cheek.
A week later, it's time for Spike's birthday party, and Twilight uses the timely arrival of Pinkie Pie and the others to finally wash the kiss off his cheek. Spike, celebrating his first birthday in Ponyville, is astonished at the numerous gifts he receives:
Spike: I usually only get one gift for my birthday. From Twilight. A book.
Midway through the party, Spike goes to Sugarcube Corner to pick up a special sapphire cupcake Mr. and Mrs. Cake have made for him. As he's returning home, he crashes into Cheerilee, who gives him a Nice Hat when she hears that it's his birthday. Sensing an opportunity, Spike starts talking up everypony in town, mentioning his birthday and extorting presents from them. When Twilight catches him in the act, he stops briefly, only to resume once she leaves for home…
The next morning, Twilight is shocked to find Spike's bed covered with gifts — and that Spike is now a gangly adolescent as big as her! Not getting any answers from a pediatrician or a veterinarian, the two visit Zecora, who explains that his dragon nature is compelling him to hoard, which spurs his growth and drives him to even more avarice. Before the two can act, Spike steals everything from Zecora's hut and escapes! Twilight chases him back to town, where Spike's reverted to Hulk Speak and grabbing everything in sight. She tries to trap him in the library, but he breaks through the wall and rampages through Ponyville, snatching the apples and leaves from Applejack's farm, Fluttershy's chicken coop, the cakes from Sugarcube Corner, the Ponyville water tower, and finally Rarity!
Swatting away Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy (as well as the Wonderbolts), the now-massive Spike climbs the nearby mountain to find solace and a cave for his collection. As they ascend, Rarity (unaware that Spike is her captor) begins to tell him off; when he covets the fire ruby around her neck, Rarity contrasts his destructive greed with "Spikey-wikey," the kindest, sweetest, and most generous dragon ever. Reminded of his true nature, Spike instantly reverts to his original size, and the two suddenly plummet to the ground below. In freefall, Spike starts to confess his love for Rarity, only for her to gently silence him with a teary smile. The two are rescued by Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash at the last moment and deposited on the town's main bridge.
While the others celebrate, Spike looks shamefacedly over the swath of destruction in his wake. Near tears, he is surprised when Rarity tells him she's proud of him, and explains that he saved the town by overcoming his greed and remembering who he really is. Calling him her hero, she rewards him with another kiss on the cheek.
His spirits uplifted, Spike writes his own letter to Princess Celestia:
You might think that it would feel good to get lots and lots of stuff, but it doesn't feel nearly as good as giving something special to somepony you really care about. Well, I learned it is truly better to give than to receive, and that kindness and generosity are what lead to true friendship! And that's more valuable than anything in the world.
Tropes (YMMV tropes can be found here)
- Adult Fear: When Twilight sees something's wrong with Spike, she's quite clearly scared for him. This continues throughout the episode.
- Adults Are Useless: Only Zecora really knew what was happening to Spike; the doctors just made him angry. When the Wonderbolts were called in, they were pretty quickly and easily defeated.
- Affectionate Nickname: Spike is called "Spikey-wikey" by Pinkie Pie, then Rarity.
- All Animals Are Dogs: When visiting the pony vet, she speaks to Spike like a dog, even giving him a dog treat. It doesn't help that Spike responded like one.
- An Aesop: "It is better to give than receive." The Aesop is further played with, because after the hat, Spike wasn't receiving anyway; he was taking.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: Spike tries to confess his crush to Rarity while both are plummeting to their deaths...
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: We have this lovely little quote from Rarity:
Rarity: Oh, be quiet! You've got nothing to be proud of! Steal everypony's things, terrorize the town, and use me as a weapon against my own friends! Which, as horrible as it is, I can almost understand because you're a dragon and all, but THIS! [tears off ruined cape] THIS IS A CRIME AGAINST FASHION!
- Ascended Fridge Horror: Up until now this show had been pretty much stepping around the potential issues that could arise from a dragon living in a pony community; this episode addresses them thoroughly.
- ...for about ten minutes, then brushes them aside again. The real Fridge here might lie in why everyone in town is so quick to accept Spike again after he caused what might be the only crisis in the show brought about not by outside trickery or a misunderstanding, but willful violence and crime. The fact that this will apparently be In the Blood for Spike forever and we see more adult dragons in the background than children only makes things worse...
- Ash Face: Happens to the pony pediatrician when Twilight takes Spike to see him.
- Attack Backfire: When Pinkie throws a pudding at Spike, he just catches it and adds it to his growing hoard.
- Attack of the 50 Foot Whatever: Who knew puberty in dragons could be so destructive?
- The Working Title for the episode was, in fact, "Attack of the 50 Foot Dragon".
- Baby Talk: The doctor and the vet talk baby talk to Spike, much to his annoyance. And then there's the fact that Pinkie and Rarity repeatedly call him Spikey-wikey.
- Badass Mustache: Applejack gets one made out of leaves after Spike bypasses them with all the apples and leaves.
- Behind the Black: Spike makes off with pretty much anything not nailed down in Zecora's hut while she and Twilight are talking. Including the cauldron they were looking over seconds ago.
- Blah Blah Blah: While a kidnapped Rarity endlessly berates him, Spike just rolls his eyes, and motions his hands in the "Blah, blah, blah" manner.
- Blessed with Suck
- Call Back: We had some idea how large adult Spike could get from "The Cutie Mark Chronicles."
- Fluttershy's able to fly almost as fast as Rainbow Dash, as seen in "Return of Harmony."
- The Water Tower used to feed the Ursa Minor in "Boast Busters" is used to store Spike's hoard (and trap the Wonderbolts).
- From "Dragonshy," Fluttershy's fear of adult dragons makes a return.
- Spike climbs up the same mountain that the dragon lived in.
- In Spike's initial hoard we see: Applejack's trophy from "Applebuck Season," Pinkie Pie's rubber chicken from "Dragonshy," the rainbow football from "Fall Weather Friends," Pinkie Pie's foam finger from "Sonic Rainboom," Apple Bloom's bowling ball from "The Cutie Pox," and Pinkie's tuba (although technically a sousaphone) from "Swarm of the Century."
- The whole episode actually lends context to the jewel-hoarding dragons we've seen in "Dragonshy" and "Owl's Well that Ends Well."
- In "Luna Eclipsed," Twilight asked Spike why he hadn't read the book she gave him about "Obscure Unicorn History", which might have been one of his previous birthday presents from her.
- When Zecora shows Twilight the image of Spike's growth on water's surface, she uses the same brightly green powder that she used in "Luna Eclipsed" to make Nightmare Moon illusions.
- Rainbow Dash: "You tied YOURSELVES up?!" Yeah, well you did too...
- The Cameo: As mentioned below, Derpy Hooves.
- Captain Obvious: "He's...a dragon." Nooo....
- Chekhov's Gun: Spike's enduring crush on Rarity, more specifically, the good feeling he got when giving the Fire Ruby to her.
- Not to mention the actual fire ruby per se, making it a Chekhov's Gift.
- Rarity's torn cape.
- Circling Birdies: Spike sees stars after Twilight yanks her globe away and makes him fall hard on his face. And every time she has to yank stuff out of his grasp for the rest of the episode.
- Cheerilee also sees stars after her collision with Spike.
- Conspicuous CG: The thick black line around the Fire Ruby Spike is holding is glaringly out of place, drawing attention to the fact that the gemstone doesn't share the same shading style as the rest of the show.
- Continuity Nod: Rainbow Dash's rainbow-striped football from Fall Weather Friends appears in Spike's first pile of hoarded goods.
- Crash Into Hello: Spike is devoting so much attention to happily boggling at his cupcake from Mr. and Mrs. Cake that he collides with Cheerilee, which leads to the conversation that gets him thinking greedily.
- A Day in the Limelight: Focuses on Spike, once again.
- Deadly Upgrade: Dragon adulthood grants immense size and power, but at the cost of becoming a greedy, mindless rampaging beast.
- Defictionalization: Did someone say sapphire cupcake?
- Delayed Reaction: Rarity has one upon first hearing Spike intends to eat the Fire Ruby.
Rarity: Is that a Fire Ruby? That must be at least 20 carats! No inclusions, pristine facets...
- Eat Dirt Cheap: One pony's priceless jewelry is another dragon's delicacy.
- Edible Ammunition: Pinkie Pie tries to fight off giant Spike with cakes. Too bad they're ineffective and Spike just takes the cake.
- Efficient Displacement: Spike's departure from the library.
- Epic Fail: Twilight and Applejack try to tie up Spike but end up tying themselves to a tree before Rainbow Dash can save them.
- The Wonderbolts, whose heroic efforts end with them stuck inside the empty water tower.
- Pinkie Pie's cake throwing just fuels Spike's greed even further and empties the bakery even faster.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Spike's voice deepens significantly the more he grows into a full dragon. Justified in that he's maturing, so it's more like a boy's voice breaking when he hits puberty.
- Flash Back: Spike remembers his moment of gifting the fire ruby to Rarity, though some of the details have conspicuously changed… Then again, this is from Spike's POV and he probably remembers differently.
- Funny Background Event: In one shot, Spike is walking in Ponyville with Lyra Heartstrings & Bonbon talking in the background, then Derpy pops up between them. From the inside of a well.
- Gaussian Girl: Rarity gets this treatment when she's lusting over the Fire Ruby.
- Gift Giving Gaffe:
- Rainbow Dash drops a dumbbell on Spike from above. Implication seems to be it's something from her own gym she stuck a bow on.
- Twilight has cluelessly, but with good intentions, given Spike a book every year. When she hears his thrilled reaction to his presents from everypony else and his dismayed remembrance that a book is all he's ever gotten from her, she backs away, embarrassed with what is obviously another gift-wrapped book..
- Good Cop, Bad Cop: Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, respectively, when they try and get Spike to put Rarity down.
Rainbow Dash: Put her down, right now!
- Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Of the Dramatic variety: Spike and Rarity remain suspended long enough for Rarity to realize who he is. It looks like Spike and Rarity are falling to their deaths until Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy save them.
- This also happens with the water in the water tower, retaining its shape for a moment after Spike takes the tower before flooding the ground below.
- Greed: Spike's (and every dragon's) problem. Side effects include compulsive hoarding, loss of complete sentences, and very fast, very massive growth.
- Grievous Harm with a Body: Spike grabs Rarity in his tail, then uses her to swat at Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy, much to Rarity's chagrin.
- Gross Up Close-Up: Spike said he wouldn't wash that cheek and he meant it.
- Growing Up Sucks: Apparently, for a dragon to grow up, they have to give in to their greed.
- Heroic BSOD: Pinkie Pie gets one after Spike destroys Sugarcube Corner.
- Homage: When the rampaging Spike, now immense, gets to Carousel boutique, the bit with him looking in her window and reaching for Rarity is a shot-for-shot homage to King Kong.
- The same is true for the Wonderbolts diving in like planes and Spike swatting at them.
- His roars bear resemblance to another famous giant monster.
- Hulk Speak: Spike's articulate vocabulary devolves to "Spike want!" as he gets bigger and out of control. Near the end, he doesn't even use words and is reduced to roaring.
- I Meant to Do That: Done in pantomime by the Wonderbolts after they're freed from the water tower.
- Iris Out: Taking on the shape of Rarity's lipstick on Spike's cheek, and accompanied with a *mwah* sound effect.
- Irony: Remember how Spike didn't like Twilight's book as a present? Now because he's greedy-obsessed, he's hoarding that book and Twilight's entire library!
- There's also the fact that the episode features a giant lizard with back-spines who breathes green fire and smashes the town… and they use it to do a King Kong parody!
- Jaw Drop: This is Pinkie Pie's reaction when she sees Spike grow bigger and wreck Sugarcube Corner.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: The second measure of the piece can be heard when Twilight was trying to control Spike.
- Kissed Keepsake: Spike refuses to wash his cheek after the first time Rarity kisses him. The second time, though, he frames her kiss.
- Kitchen Sink Included: A Visual Pun, as one can be seen as part of Spike's initial hoard.
- Miracle-Gro Monster: Spike has this happen to him the greedier he gets.
- Mood Whiplash: The episode ends with two characters nearly falling to their deaths, with the city destroyed, and a character who we know and love is to blame. What set all of this in motion? A spur-of-the-moment gift from the kind schoolteacher Cheerilee.
- Spike nearly destroys the town, and is rather depressed about it. He gets a kiss on the cheek from Rarity, and then… "Dear Princess Celestia."
- My God, What Have I Done?: Spike doesn't come right out and say it, but the emotion is conveyed by his reaction to seeing Ponyville devastated, and his own giant footprints.
- My God, You Are Serious: Applejack initially laughs at Twilight's claim that Spike is running rampant…until she sees it for herself.
- Nice Hat: Spike gets a fedora from Cheerilee.
- Let's not beat around the bush: he got a pimp hat.
- No Ontological Inertia: As soon as Spike remembers he can be generous and how happy it made Rarity, his uncontrolled dragon growth spurt and personality change reverse. Instantly. Leading to the new problem of how high up he and Rarity are with no way down except the cruel pull of gravity.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A minor one with Pinkie Pie, with her attempt to assault Spike with cakes only gives him more things to hoard.
- One-Scene Wonder: The Wonderbolts swoop in to try and stop Spike, get defeated and trapped under the water tower, and fly off afterwards with nary a word.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Pinkie Pie is completely serious while defending Sugar Cube Corner from Spike. Her Heroic BSOD afterwards is still played for laughs, though.
- Overly Long Tongue: How Spike rescues his sapphire cupcake after knocking into Cheerilee.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Rarity doesn't recognize the giant purple/green dragon as her "Spiky-Wikey" until after he reverts back to his baby form. The same occurs with some of the other mane cast. Then again, given the significant visual and behavioral changes, perhaps they believed he was a different member of the same breed.
- Pimped-Out Cape: Rarity makes one for each of the mane cast (although the first one for herself had to be redone).
- Playing with Fire: Twilight Sparkle lights a few candles at the start of the episode.
- Post-Kiss Catatonia: Rarity kisses Spike on the cheek and he falls over.
- POV Cam: Several instances from Spike's perspective, including during the Flash Back mentioned above.
- The Power of Love: Spike loses most of himself as his greed takes over, kidnapping Rarity in the process. However, when she mentions the Fire Gem was a gift from "[her] dear friend, Spikey-wikey," he is able to remember why he gave it to her in the first place.
- Prehensile Tail: Spike uses his tail as an extra hand when he's looking for things to hog.
- Prop Recycling: The objects in Spike's hoard mentioned under Call Back. It's unlikely that he could have obtained an identical trophy or football from ponies on the street. There's also several other elements seen from earlier episodes [the punch bowl, a scooter that looks very much like Scootaloo's (which he also attempted to take), the kitchen sink, and so on.]
- Pun-Based Title: Playing on the film title "The Secret of My Success."
- Razor Wings : The Wonderbolts
- Relationship Upgrade: Spike's crush on Rarity is out in the open, and she really doesn't seem to mind. Not that it was much of a secret in the first place, but this is the first time Rarity seems to return the affection. And he got a second kiss out of it, natch!
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Spike is normally portrayed as adorable. But in this episode, his reptilian traits become more pronounced as he succumbs to the dragon tendency to greed. His irises become smaller and the slitted pupil more pronounced. His long tongue starts to hiss. When he opens his mouth to yawn or growl, his teeth are bigger and his mouth cavernous.
- Used to creepy effect when he begins to indulge his own greed; he blinks, and his eyelids are sideways and transparent.
- Rule of Symbolism: The Fire Ruby forms the shape of a heart when held upside-down, implying that love overcomes greed. Even in Spike's flashback, the stone is held that way.
- Rule of Three: It takes visits to three practitioners to determine what's wrong with Spike.
- Shapeshifter Baggage: Spike's growth spurts are accompanied by immediate jumps in size; later, when he recalls his generous nature, he goes from a full-sized beast that towers over Ponyville back to his small baby form in an instant.
- Ship Tease: The fans' most popular "fanon" couple got a moment as seen here before being interrupted by another famous background character. Many fangasms were likely had.
- The way Twilight magically rearranges her book shelf calls to mind the way Merlin packs.
- Spike's rampage takes cues from Godzilla, King Kong and The Incredible Hulk (Spike want!). The Wonderbolts show up to fight him probably just because, when you have the giant monster carrying the lady and climbing to a high place, you just have to include the airplanes.
- Spike the dragon capturing Rarity the maiden reminds one of the legend of Perseus and Andromeda, as well as the legend of St. George and the Dragon.
- The hat Cheerilee gives to Spike is similar to Michael Jackson's from "Smooth Criminal."
- Spike's monstrous corruption after greedily demanding extra birthday presents is similar to the fall of Smeagol.
- The scene of Spike and Rarity in free-fall after he returns to normal size bears a resemblance to the climax of Spirited Away, especially Rarity's Sparkling Stream of Tears.
- Might be coincidence, but Rarity's mane after Big!Spike roars in her face bears a striking resemblance to Yzma's hair when she goes to her secret lab.
- Skewed Priorities: Played for laughs when Spike tries to swat the Pegasus ponies with Rarity.
Rarity: Girls! My cape!
- Space Whale Aesop: Spike learns that it's better to give than receive… or else he'll get greedy and turn into a giant rampaging monster and destroy the town.
- Stock Sound Effects: When Twilight backs away sheepishly with yet another book as her gift to Spike, there is actually a sheep baaing sound in the background.
- Super OCD: Twilight's at it again, re-shelving the entire library and making sure ladles in punch bowls are straight.
- She's also got a copy of The Art of the To-Do List... which she sets aside to read again.
- Later on, she locks Spike in a different room, then realizes that he'll probably make a mess of the books in there by adding them to his horde.
- Super-Powered Evil Side: Spike's growth is powered by his Greed.
- Taking Advantage of Generosity: Spike's dragon greed kicks in this way.
- Talking Is a Free Action: Even though Spike is on the loose and tearing Ponyville apart Rainbow Dash takes her time to thoroughly make fun of Applejack and Twilight Sparkle, who managed to tie themselves up when chasing Spike with a rope. She only snaps out of it after hearing Fluttershy being in danger.
- Talking the Monster to Death: Played with. Rarity goes on a tirade about how rude it is to be used as a weapon against her friends being understandable because he's a dragon. Then she describes how sweet "Spikey-wikey" was to give her the beautiful fire ruby, and that is what reminds Greedy!Spike of the moment and undoes his transformation.
- Teleport Spam: Twilight gets particularly spammy in this episode, most obvious in the scene where she tries to wipe Rarity's kiss mark off Spike's cheek, and keeps teleporting Spike to her as he tries to run off.
- The sequence ends when Pinkie Pie is randomly teleported in instead!
- Tentacle Rope: Just with a tail.
- Visual Pun: Spike plans to eat his Fire Ruby. He holds a tuning fork to test its readiness.
- Wham! Episode: This episode brought a double Wham: First of all, we are revealed that Spike is way more dangerous and unstable than we could have ever imagined, and second, Spike finally confesses his secret crush to Rarity, who reveals that she already knew, and then accepts it with teary eyes.
- Wham! Line: A minor example that's a Double Subversion: "I've always sorta had a crush—", which Rarity interrupts and replies to with a teary-eyed smile.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Re-shelving the entire library at once is very important.
- A broom makes a fantastic gift!
- What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash trying to convince Spike to calm down, the sweet and gentle Fluttershy over his right shoulder (angel) and brash, impetuous Dash over his left (devil).
- What Have I Become?: Spike has this moment right before he changes back.
- The Worf Effect: The Wonderbolts fail to save the day again, leaving Rainbow Dash (and Fluttershy) to do the main hero work.
- Working Title: Had two: first "Giving Dangerously", then "Attack of the 50 Foot Dragon".