Sometimes there's a reason sidekicks are sidekicks.
Spike is making a jewel cake, until he eats all the jewels. I know how that is, I constantly eat ALL the base ingredients when baking. You wouldn't believe how many trips I've made to the ER for salmonella. I can't help it, eggs are so delicious. But what will he do now? He can't go on and just make a regular cake. He’d be steppin’ on Pinkie’s turf if he did that and you do not want to step on Pinkie’s turf, ‘cause bitch will go straight medieval on your ass. (Whoa, sorry guys, I decided to jump on the bandwagon ten years later and started watching The Wire this week. -Doc)
(Not this kind of Jewel cake)
Fluttershy needs Spike's help and offers a jewel as payment. Where did Fluttershy get an emerald like that? (She’s probably using her woodland creatures to run an elaborate and sophisticated drug ring on the outskirts of Ponyville…Oh, god you guys, I’m really sorry about this. –Doc) The help she needs is a pet-sitter for Angel, her abusive rabbit. (Maybe Angel’s running the ring and she’s just the front?) It turns out that Tank, Dashie's super awesome turtle, needs a sitter too. As does Rarity's fussy cat, Opal. I'm excited for this episode if only to see all the pets interact. GUMMY ALERT! YES! BEST PET EVER! (In this Fluttershy/Angel drug ring I’ve created in my mind, Gummy is definitely one of their most regular customers.)
All of the pets are housed in Twilight's tree library, because why not. Even AJ's forgettable (but still adorable) puppy Winona is there.
I love how the ponies' lives seem to mirror that of twenty-somethings. They're all unattached and have replacement-children pets, and total first-world problems (other than saving the world from time to time) (wait, Res, that’s not a typical first world problem?).
Angel finds his way to the Cutie Mark Crusader's clubhouse, where Spike subsequently manages to pawn all of the pets off on them with promises of a pet-sitting cutie mark and one of his precious jewels, specifically the smallest one he had. Aside: how exactly do gems work in Equestria? Because that little gem Spike handed off to the fillies seemed to yield a pretty hefty amount of payout. Yet, none of the girls cringe when he eats an entire bowlful of precious stones. If I had a friend cutting up Jacksons or Franklins into their morning cornflakes, I would probably stage some sort of intervention. (I don’t know who’s on any higher denominations. Isn’t Cleveland on the $100,000 or something? This would be easier in England where they just plaster Liz onto everything. Which leads me to another point, mainly, why wouldn’t ODL make currency with her face on it?)
Spike carries on with his cake quest (the next big hit on TLC, no doubt). No! Madame le Flour is about to be made into a cake! With the supersonic hearing he has apparently acquired, he hears the CMCs say some worrisome things about their charges. Turns out, despite their remuneration, money doesn’t buy cooperative pets. Speaking of the gem/currency question, holy shit, that little jewel paid for an industrial-sized hairdryer? What kind of economy are they living in? God damn, ODL, step up.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders are not up to the task of babysitting (hey, probably because they’re pretty much babies themselves) and give the animals back to Spike, but they already spent the gem he gave them. One by one his precious jewels slip through his claws as he finds himself in over his head with all those animals. Which is a lot less adorable than you might think.
In the meantime, Angel has disappeared, and Spike tracks the wascally wabbit to the train station. Why does the porter pony have muttonchops? (Why do horses have other animals, including a crocodile, as pets, Res? Sometimes while we watch children’s cartoons we must place logic delicately to the side.) They spend another gem to essentially bribe their way on the train to retrieve Angel, but the train leaves the station for the Crystal Empire. (Alternate reality idea: Crystal Meth empire.) I'm no economist (Hey now! We both got 4s on that AP exam! …almost ten years ago), but seriously, what are those gems worth? Is every pony in Equestria just, like, a jewelry expert or something? (Doc’s counterpoint: if that were so they’d all have jeweler’s loupes on all the time, which would be awesome.) Or is this like in the movies when you ask for a beer and the bartender brings you a “beer”?
Once they arrive at the significantly less somber train station in the Canada of Equestria (wait, I’ve never been to Canada, does everyone there sparkle!?), the Cutie Mark Crusaders are eager to go exploring. Spike bars their way, but Angel is ingenious enough to escape the train. You know, because he’s a tiny, twitchy, assbutt of a rabbit and Spike is a tubby, child-like, emasculated lizard. It’s hard to run with his squat little legs- four legs good, two legs bad and all that. Spike chases the bunny down and stops him from reuniting with Fluttershy by lobbing his last gem at a precariously buckled pile of luggage and knocking it to block Angel’s way. Spike should think about a career in baseball. He herds all the animals back onto the train and after admitting that he should have paid more attention to them, it's a simple matter of keeping six pets (and Spike’s stomach) quiet on a long train ride back.
They arrive back in Ponyville with the Mane Six none the wiser, but Spike still cannot make a jewel cake. #ponyvilleproblems
Final thoughts from Doc: yeah, there’s a reason sidekicks are sidekicks. While I love seeing them, it’s hard to make a very interesting episode about all of them together. Especially since they aren’t “sidekicks” so much as “pets” and as much as I admit a weakness for Too Cute (and fuck you if that show doesn’t melt your brittle lonely heart), no one on that show is pretending it has a “plot” or “character arcs.” One of the things that makes MLP:FiM great is that it doesn’t always focus on being cute, and this episode is a great reminder of why they should stick to that.
(This is what happens when you combine jewels and sidkicks)