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 Sweetie Belle: We did it, girls! We found the one!

Who will send our teacher's heart a flutter!

Apple Bloom: Wait a minute, let me get this straight.

Are you talking about my brother?

  Written by Meghan McCarthy

Hearts and Hooves Day has come to Ponyville, a day for ponies to let their loved ones (be they friends, family, or significant others) know how much they mean to each other. The Cutie Mark Crusaders offer their teacher Cheerilee a huge, lavishly decorated paper heart the size of a rug, and in return discover that Cheerilee doesn't have a "very special somepony" to share the day with. According to Apple Bloom, a mare as wonderful as Miss Cheerilee clearly deserves to have somepony special in her life, and Sweetie Belle gets the idea for the Crusaders to go find him. One musical montage later, they've narrowed down the list of eligible bachelors to one: Apple Bloom's older brother, Big Macintosh.

The Crusaders try to trick the pair into a blind-date picnic at the town gazebo, but the situation that results is more awkward than romantic, and Macintosh and Cheerilee part ways. Back in town, the disappointed Crusaders run into Twilight Sparkle, who just happens to have a book on the history of Hearts and Hooves Day...which includes a recipe for a love potion!

The Crusaders borrow the book, whip up the potion, and serve it to Big Macintosh and Cheerilee, under the pretext of having the pair sample some punch they are intending to sell. The two older ponies drink down the potion, their eyes meet, and they fall head over hooves for each other! Unfortunately, the potion seems to work a little too well, as Cheerilee and Macintosh don't seem to be interested in doing anything but gazing into each other's eyes and calling each other sickeningly sweet pet names.

Checking the book once again, the Crusaders discover that the potion they whipped up was actually a love poison, one that led to the fall of an ancient kingdom when a prince and princess under its effect were too lovestruck to attend to their royal duties. Fretful of the chaos that will surely result from Cheerilee and Big Macintosh neglecting their duties, Apple Bloom leads her friends to find the lovebirds and cure them. Fortunately, the book also mentions that the spell can be broken If the victims can be kept from looking into each other's eyes for an hour.

Alas, Cheerilee and Big Macintosh are so utterly transfixed on each other that they resist the girls' attempts to break their gaze... until Sweetie Belle suggests the two get married! As part of the wedding preparations, Sweetie Belle manages to lock Cheerilee in a changing room at Carousel Boutique while picking out a wedding dress, while Apple Bloom and Scootaloo try to keep Big Macintosh busy shopping for an engagement present. Unfortunately, Big Macintosh manages to make his purchase and slip away from the fillies; Apple Bloom has a devil of a time trying to stop her super-strong brother, as not even tying him to a house does more than slow him down. Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle manage to catch him in a pitfall just outside the boutique, but with seconds left on the clock, Cheerilee barges out of the changing room to be with her "schmoopie doo", and the two end up at the bottom of the pit together...

Thankfully, the poison has just worn off, leaving the two very confused as to why they're on a mattress in a deep hole with Cheerilee wearing a bridal veil. The Cutie Mark Crusaders confess to spiking their drinks with the love poison, and admit they've learned not to mess with other ponies' relationships. Cheerilee is ready to forgive them... after they complete Big Macintosh's chores, that is.

Later on, the Crusaders are in the middle of harvesting apples when Cheerilee and Big Macintosh announce that with the free time Mac's earned, the two of them have decided to go on a picnic together. And just to mess with the Crusaders' (and the audience's) heads a little, they throw in a little lovey-dovey talk before walking off into the setting sun together.

Tropes present in this episode. (YMMV Tropes are here.)

  • Absentee Actor: With the exception of Twilight (who appears for less than a minute), none of the Mane Cast makes an appearance.
    • Rarity's voice actress gets a few lines as Mrs. Cake, however.
    • Notably, this is the first episode of Season 2 where Applejack does not appear, meaning that no character appears in every Season 2 episode. (This may be partially to avoid answering the question as to whether the mane six have "very special someponies," especially since part of the point of FIM is to not be all about romantic relationships.)
    • A Fourth Wall Mail Slot interview on later revealed that Pinkie Pie "celebrated by having the best Hearts and Hooves party ever with every pony in Ponyville!" Probably not canon as it was just meant to promote the McDonald's My Little Pony toys, but an explanation is an explanation.
  • A Day in the Limelight: For Cheerilee and Big Mac.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Apple Bloom seems to have forgotten that the last time she dabbled in witchcraft didn't go so well, either. To be fair, though, she initially had some second thoughts about using the love potion.
  • Alternate Animal Affection: Rubbing noses.
  • Anticlimax: On the first attempt by the CMC to hitch Cheerilee and Big Macintosh, the fillies wait in a nearby bush, getting more excited by the moment, as the two get closer, and closer, and Cheerilee looks deep into Big Mac's eyes, and then utters...

 Cheerilee: You have something stuck in your teeth.

Sweetie Belle: (popping up out of hiding) OH, COME ON!

  • Ass Kicks You: About a minute into the CMC's song, Sweetie Belle bounces into Scootaloo.
  • Big No: The Cutie Mark Crusaders in unison, when they think that the "love poison" is still in effect at the end.
  • Big Yes: Sweetie Belle when Cheerilee asks Big Macintosh to be her very special somepony. Many have noted that it sounds a lot like Rarity's.
  • Call Back: Apple Bloom's been known to dabble in the Ye Olde Potions department from "Cutie Pox". And once again, it ends up having very bad consequences.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Big Macintosh is easily able to pull two bulls and a cart of anvils without breaking a sweat. He initially notices the increased weight when Apple Bloom adds Berry Punch's house to the load, but then he just applies a little extra force and ends up dragging the whole house with him.
    • Before that, we can see how, unlike Applejack, Big Macintosh can buck a whole tree's apple harvest at once, by merely tapping it with one of his hind legs.
    • Consistent with the superior physical strength of earth ponies, Cherilee bursts open the changing room door blocked by furniture and knocks down the Carousel shop's front wall.
  • Continuity Nod: An incredibly subtle one is done during the course of the song, as Scootaloo never actually sings any of her lines, since "The Show Stoppers" established that she's not a very good singer.
    • There's also the fact that every ingredient has something to do with pegasi ("making hearts soar" indeed), and it's Scootaloo who collects them. She picks off a bit of cloud with her teeth (Pegasi can naturally walk on/touch clouds), vacuums the rainbow (produced by the Weather Factory), and of course, provides one of her feathers. (Well, Sweetie Belle plucks it without asking.)
    • One of the jewelry pieces Big Mac and Apple Bloom consider buying has the gems arrayed like the Elements of Harmony symbol from the first episode. It's the one Apple Bloom claimed was too flashy.
  • Cringe Comedy: Boy, and how.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Cheerilee is this when she responds to the CMCs' tree identification "question".

 Cheerilee: That's an apple tree.

  • Deconstruction: The whole episode is basically one gigantic Deconstruction of Shipping, or Romance Novels altogether.
  • Disco Dan: One pony has an open jacket showing his Carpet of Virility and a disco ball cutie mark.
  • Expressive Accessory: Apple Bloom's bow droops when she learns Cheerilee doesn't have a very special somepony.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The CMCs not only fail to read the story of the potion until it's too late, they also don't notice that Big Macintosh and Cheerilee are already friendly with each other before they drink the potion. So the potion accomplishes nothing but trouble, since all positive effects come earlier.
  • Fandom Nickname: Some people are calling the creepy, jelly-obsessed pony "Hugh Jelly" (after the internet saying "You jelly?", a shortened form of "Are you jealous?").
  • Fandom Nod: Derpy and Doctor Whooves are shown together during a general view of the town, as are Lyra Heartstrings and Bon Bon (though Bon Bon is also copy-pasted next to another pony in the very same shot).
  • Fantastic Aesop: Essentially, the moral of the episode is "It's wrong to use a magic potion to force someone to fall in love."
    • More down to Earth, it's "Don't force love on people who might not be ready."
      • And further distilled: "Don't manipulate people."
        • "Shipping ponies is bad, and I should feel bad"
  • Filly-Tossing Charge: Cheerilee does this to the CMC to get at Big Macintosh.
  • Foreshadowing: Normally the CMCs doing something that ends in Epic Fail is a given, but this time their Yeah! Shot is punctuated with melodramatic "doom" chords instead of something appropriately Hot-Blooded.
  • First Date Marriage: Big Macintosh and Cheerilee are easily coaxed into getting married while under the influence of the love potion, but it's all a plot by the Cutie Mark Crusaders to keep them apart until the potion wears off.
  • Funny Background Event
    • In the opening, Truffle Shuffle gets a card from Twist and gives her a hug, much to the disappointment of a dejected admirer.
    • When the CMC are discussing hooking Cheerilee up with somepony, Twist is playing "pin the heart on the pony". She pins it on Cheerilee instead of the target.
    • Diamond Tiara...Diamond Tiara!...gets an H-and-H card. She's pretty shocked.
      • Not the least because it's from another filly. Of course, at that age schoolchildren routinely hand out valentines en masse to boy and girl alike.
  • Genre Blind: Twilight fails to notice that as soon as she mentions the love potion in her book, the CMCs suddenly "OMG!" and ask to borrow it. You'd think she'd know better by now...
    • Or perhaps she just expected Applebloom to remember her cutie pox disaster and not play with DIY potion kits.
      • Or even further, to remember the big rule about experimentation: READ ALL THE INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE YOU START.
  • Genre Savvy: Played with. Cheerilee is able to pick up on the CMCs' plot and quickly explains the situation to Big Macintosh, apologizing for her student's setup. However, she doesn't count on them using a love potion.
    • It's apparent Twilight is suspicious when it becomes obvious the CMC aren't just wanting to read because they were curious. However, she never acts on it, or at least never manages to catch up to them.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar
    • The "love potion" is served in what are obviously shot glasses.
    • During the CMC's song, Sweetie Belle briefly disrupts what is clearly a funeral service. In a Valentine's Day episode. Just so she can sing about how the preacher is too old to date Cheerilee. That's pretty twisted.
    • Cheerilee & Big Macintosh have a suggestive moment with a cherry while sharing a milkshake at Sugarcube Corner.
    • If you've ever had a teacher who's a Christmas Cake, an old maid, or a jaded divorcee, Cheerilee's first scene will seem awfully familiar.
    • One of the stallions the Cutie Mark Crusaders reject as a possible boyfriend for Cheerilee is "strangely obsessed with tubs of jelly." The faces he makes only add to the suggestiveness.
    • During the teaser, Applebloom walks through a puddle of glue and gets it all over her hooves. Traditionally (i.e. in preindustrial societies like Equestria appears to be) glue was made from dead horses' hooves.
    • There's something about the baffled (and slightly horrified) way Cheerilee reacts to the situation she finds herself in when the love poison wears off: "Girls, can you explain why it looks like I'm getting married at the bottom of a pit?"
  • Gone Horribly Right: The CMC discover (too late) that the love potion they've given to Cheerilee and Big Macintosh is actually a love poison that works a little too well at making ponies fall in love.
    • Gone Horribly Wrong: The CMC intended to make a love potion, and discovered (too late) that what they really made was a poison that caused the fall of an entire kindgom.
  • Gonna Need More Trope: "I think we're gonna need a bigger envelope."
  • Head Desk: Apple Bloom, when she finds out that she and her friends may have permanently screwed up Cheerilee and Big Macintosh.
  • Held Gaze: Cheerilee and Big Mac.
  • High-Class Glass: The stallion Apple Bloom dismisses as "way too uptight" wears one.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: The phrase "very special somepony" is used constantly, as Equestria obviously has no St. Valentine.
  • Huge Stallion, (relatively) Tiny Mare
  • Imagine Spot: Apple Bloom has one about Ponyville's certain doom when she is told that the Love Potion is really a Love Poison and how it led to the destruction of a kingdom.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Apple Bloom's overexaggeration of the effects of Cheerilee and Big Macintosh remaining under the influence of the love poison.
  • Insubstantial Ingredients: "A bright rainbow's glow" is apparently more substantial in Equestria. Even accounting for the time that Pinkie Pie once tasted a rainbow doesn't make it less strange.
  • I Want Grandkids: When the Cutie Mark Crusaders ask Cheerilee why she doesn't have a "very special somepony", the expression on her face could be seen as someone who's received the same question lots of times from her parents...
  • Karma Houdini: Averted. The CMC get a proper punishment for their actions instead of one of those "I think you learned your lesson" lines.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Or rather, Rubbing Noses Under The Influence.
  • Kitchen Sink Included: In the Barricade scene that Cheerilee is in at the Wedding Dress Shop there is a Kitchen Sink Included with the barricade.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle split up in two directions to keep Big Mac and Cheerilee from meeting each other.
  • Love Potion: The CMC create one to use on Big Mac and Cheerilee. Unfortunately, it turns out to be more of a love poison.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: The Potion is named Love Poison for a reason.
  • Love Ruins the Realm: What happened to the original prince and princess that ruled the land.
  • Lower Deck Episode: Moreso than usual; see Absentee Actor above.
  • The Matchmaker: Cutie Mark Crusader Matchmakers, Yay!
  • Mandatory Mane 6 Cameo: This is presumably the reason it's Twilight Sparkle and not Spike, Zecora, etc. who gives the Cutie Mark Crusaders the recipe for a love potion.
  • Maybe Ever After: The ending leaves the possibility of Cheerilee and Big Mac getting together for real very open, while still being ambiguous enough to avoid conflict with the Aesop.
  • Mind Control Eyes: Cheerilee and Big Macintosh, thanks to the love potion.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: Not exactly minor, as the obsession would've certainly hurt Cheerilee and Big Macintosh personally and maybe affected others, but Apple Bloom's apocalyptic vision of "starved uneducated ponies" running amok and dying out en masse was completely blown out of proportions.
  • My Brother Is Off Limits: Initially Apple Bloom is hesitant to hook Cheerilee up with her brother (or maybe just weirded out at the thought of her teacher becoming her sister-in-law), but she gets over it rather quickly.
  • Neat Freak: One of the rejected stallions, who's rejected for being "too clean".
  • Neglectful Precursors: The authors of Twilight's book on the origin of Hearts and Hooves Day actually provided the recipe for the potion that caused the initial disaster.
    • Benevolent Precursors: ... possibly to avoid an accidental repeat of the incident. There are only three ingredients, and they don't seem very hard to find.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The CMC really screw up. To a lesser degree, Twilight is responsible for offering them the book in the first place. In Twilight's defense, she seems to have no idea they're going to do what they do, and is possibly more interested in having the fillies read/study something. Not to mention that the book has a warning on the very same page as the recipe.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: For the Mane Six, who are almost completely missing from the episode. Probably justified in that they're quite young and none of them is in a relationship, and the writers didn't want to show them shunning the holiday either.
  • Non-Ironic Clown: One of the rejected stallions, rejected for being "too silly".
  • Non Standard Character Design: Several of the ponies in the inappropriate love interests montage, including an abnormally short one and an abnormally tall one.
  • Off-Model: The pony soaking in jelly blinks just once, causing the jelly to overlap the rest of his face, for no other reason than to make him look even MORE creepy.
  • Old Dark House: during an Imagine Spot, Applebloom visualizes their school becoming one of these, complete with boarded up windows and the sky becoming perpetually dark
  • One-Scene Wonder/Every One Remembers the Stripper: Hugh Jelly, the stallion who's "strangely obsessed with tubs of jelly".
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The first thing that tips off the CMC that the potion isn't working the way they expected is when Big Macintosh starts using rather cheesy pet names for Cheerilee.
  • Pair the Spares: A literal case, as Cheerilee is single and the CMC find out that out of all the candidates they list, Big Macintosh is the only one that fits their "good" and "still available" criteria.
    • Also, during the cold opening, Twist and Truffle Shuffle can be seen as a couple as well.
  • The Pig Pen: One of the stallions is rejected for being abnormally filthy and messy. He even has a garbage can for a cutie mark.
  • Pony Ladder: The Cutie Mark Crusaders do this to grab a cloud for their concoction.
  • The Power of Love: See Super Strength
  • Promoted to Love Interest: The CMC do this to Big Mac
  • Read the Freaking Manual: the Accidental Aesop.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The Cutie Mark Crusaders expect Love At First Sight when Big Macintosh and Cheerilee first meet. Instead, they get a friendly and slightly awkward talk between two ponies who are just acquaintances at best. Given that situation, Cheerilee's question over whether Big Mac already has plans is quite straightforward, as is her idea to play along with the CMC plans for a while.
  • Record Needle Scratch: Happens during the Crusaders' first attempt to pair Big Mac and Cheerilee together. Immediately afterward, the music starts up again, only off-key.
  • Refuge in Audacity: While searching for Cheerilee's Very Special Somepony, Sweetie Belle crashes a funeral, jumps on the eulogizer's back, noogies him while singing that he's "too old", then jumps away. With a great big smile. While cheerful upbeat music plays. The fact that the coffin is almost entirely off-screen and that the shot only lasts for two seconds is probably the only way in hell the show got away with it.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Cheerilee and Big Macintosh begin the episode as just acquaintances (and it's clear that Big Macintosh is not interested at all on her), but after passing through their love poison ordeal, they have clearly become closer than before.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: This trope is what doomed the ancient land in Twilight's book. With the prince under the spell's thrall, his kingdom couldn't function without him and collapsed.
  • Schizo-Tech: We see a colt and two fillies playing stand-up arcade games.
    • The CMC use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the rainbow's coloring.
  • Ship Sinking: Caramel, a favorite of Yaoi Fangirls, is shown early on with a girlfriend, shown nuzzling with her, and is explicitly stated to be her boyfriend by the CMC.... Just to hammer the point home for those in denial.
  • Ship Tease: The episode ends with Big Macintosh and Cheerilee going on a picnic while the Crusaders are forced to do Big Mac's chores as punishment. They smile and wink at each other after seeing how the CMC react to their use of the cutesy pet names from before, but they are also seen walking off into the sunset together.
    • Intentionally downplayed so as not to conflict with the Aesop. If anyone's getting teased, it's the Crusaders.
  • Shout-Out: An episode where a trio of grade-schoolers pair up their teacher and a family member...and in the process turn them into lovey-dovey idiots who neglect their responsibilities? Not the first time this has happened.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Cheerilee and Big Mac become these after drinking the love potion. To the extreme. The CMC are even visibly sickened by it.
  • Singing To Herself: Sweetie Belle's song, with the occasional aside from Scootaloo, is sung by one person, Michelle Creber (who normally voices Apple Bloom and provides both her and Sweetie Belle's singing voice).
  • Solo Duet: In a meta sense, the song in this episode is one, since Michelle Creber is the only one who actually sings.
  • Stealth Hi Bye: The CMC pull one on Twilight after borrowing her book, leaving only a tiny dust cloud in the time it takes her to look at her book bag and back.
  • Stealth Pun: The CMC are looking for the "perfect stallion" for Cheerilee or, in other words, a major stud.
    • It also qualifies as giving an Apple to their teacher.
  • Stepford Smiler: Cheerilee briefly has one of these moments. When Sweetie Belle asks her why she doesn't have a special somepony, Cheerilee looks extremely depressed, complete with dropping ears. However, the second she turns around, she's smiling cheerfully again.
    • Alternatively, since she's clearly rolling her eyes, she's just annoyed at once again being asked why she's single.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Invoked, Lampshaded, and Deconstructed. Thanks to Apple Bloom deciding to grab the Red String after the CMCs' first attempt at getting them together failed, Bic Mac and Cheerilee go from clearly not being interested in each other to using lovey-dovey nicknames. It disgusts and/or annoys everypony around them, and we quickly find out how bad the consequences of said trope could possibly get.
  • Super Strength: This episode makes it clear that Big Mac is very strong.
    • Cheerilee shows off quite a bit of strength as well, busting two separate doors to smithereens and ramming past the barricade Sweetie Belle set up to keep her in Carousel Boutique. The Power of Love, everypony.
    • They are both earth ponies, which are stated to be stronger than unicorns or pegasi, and Big Mac is stronger than any other known earth pony.
  • Sweet Celestia, What Have We Done?: This is the CMCs' reaction when they realize the effects of their so-called love potion.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: In-Universe. The CMCs are disgusted by Big Mac and Cheerilee's displays of affection.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: The Crusaders' song is something like this, with them going around town rejecting various stallions (and one colt) for various reasons.

 This one's too young, this one's too old

He clearly has a terrible cold

That guy's too silly, he's way too uptight

Well, nothing's wrong with this one, he seems all right

(His girlfriend sure thinks so!)

  • The Cutie Mark Crusaders Win: Subverted in that they do get Big Macintosh and Cheerilee together, but now breaking the love potion's hold on them is the crux of the episode. Double Subverted when they manage to pull that off too without any of The Mane Cast intervening.
  • There Was a Door: ...And Cheerilee explodes through it, taking out chunks of the wall with her.
  • Troll: Big Mac and Cheerilee get back at the CMC by making the fillies think they're still under the potion's influence.
  • Valentine's Day Episodes
  • Well Intentioned Extremists: The CMC basically tricks Cheerilee and Big Macintosh into drinking a rape drug potion, but they really meant well and they really just wanted to see their teacher happy.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: I know you're worried about Cheerilee, Apple Bloom, but the inability of an Elementary school teacher to teach is not going to turn all of Ponyville into idiots.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: You may notice that the CMC never use all of the love potion, leaving quite a bit in the pitcher. What happened to it? Who knows!
    • To fanfic writers this could be the loose end that launched a thousand ships.
  • Why Didn't You Just Say So?: Apple Bloom's reaction to Sweetie Belle revealing there is an antidote after she's had a panic attack.
  • Will They or Won't They?: The episode's resolution hints that after their ordeal, Cheerilee and Big Macintosh may have become more than just friends. The keyword here is "hinted".
  • Yeah! Shot
  • You Mean "Xmas": "Hearts and Hooves Day" for "St. Valentine's Day". Like Halloween and "Nightmare Night," or Christmas and "Hearths Warming Eve," it's basically this in all but name.
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