Although I said I wanted to get right down to this episode, somehow it took all week to finally carve out the time to do it justice. Although it's mostly the second half that I was waiting for.
Whose Friend is Who? - "You mean, I get to help?!"
This episode did not feature Friend Bear or even Best Friend as some predicted, based on the title. And come on, writers! Those two obviously need an episode! But no, the actual plot of this episode runs as follows: McKenna returns to learn about working together, however, in helping her learn, Cheer and Harmony inadvertently shut out Funshine and Oopsy (and granted, they were only making a swing, so it was a case of preventing a "too many cooks" situation), who complain to Grumpy, and the three of them make a club for just the three of them. To retaliate, Cheer, Harmony, and Love-a-lot make their own club. However, Grumpy's club has a cool clubhouse, so McKenna wants to be a member of both clubs. But when she tries this, not only is she rejected by Grumpy's club, but Harmony's club kicks her out. So she comes up with a plan to make her own club with Wingnut and show the others how it feels to be left out of a club, and in the end everyone comes together again.
Now, that's all well and good, but wouldn't this have been better as an Earth episode? What if, instead of the creation of the clubs in Care-a-lot, after learning to help others, McKenna went back to her hometown and got involved in a club war between her friends. Then she would go back to Care-a-lot to get help from the Care Bears to make her friends stop being cliche-ish, and they would basically do what she did, I guess, and everyone would be friends again by the end. And that's what should have happened.
Also, the ep would have made more sense if Harmony weren't involved. I mean, shouldn't she have been keeping harmony here instead of adding to the dischord? Couldn't one of the less-shown female bears have been given a bigger part for this story, like, oh I don't know, Friend or Best Friend? Or even Wish, she never gets to do anything! Seriously, writers, get on the ball!
Present and Accounted For - "KA-ching. We hit the jackpot!"
This ep begins at Love-a-lot's house, which is filled with framed pictures of her and Cheer (lots and lots of pictures of the two of them. Hm....). Most of them are of the two of them exchanging gift baskets. Love-a-lot is woken up by Share wishing her a happy birthday, and Love-a-lot regales her with a tale of the ginormous gift basket she dreamt Cheer gave her. But Share is gone by the time she mentions that any gift from her friend is sure to be lovely. Turns out Share split to spill the beans on Love-a-lot's dream to Cheer, who is putting the finishing touches on this year's gift basket, which includes everything Love-a-lot mentioned, including a purple, sparkly skateboard. Cheer claims she's just a thoughtful friend, but obviously she has psychic powers. Either that or the dream was planted... Later, Love-a-lot is given presents and wished many happy returns by almost everyone in Care Square, except for the one bear she's most looking forward to seeing. As the day passes with no Cheer, Love-a-lot starts to lose hope in her friend.
Meanwhile, Grizzle raves and rants over his many failed plans (illustrated by myriads of post-it notes all over his lair). After storming out, his minions (as in the past few episodes, UR-2 and Sargeant Rocketbottom) muse on the situation. Mostly UR-2, though, as Rocketbottom is portrayed as more of an idiot than usual in this ep. UR-2 goes on to explain, using charts and a logic sequence, that when Grizzle isn't happy, nobody's happy (this leads to almost the best part of the episode, Rocketbottom glomping UR-2). And apparently Grizzle hasn't been happy ever, but he's been more unhappy than usual for over a week. Thus, they must come up with some sort of plan to cheer him up, and quick.
Later, or maybe earlier, Cheer pushes her gift basket (on some kind of truck) to Love-a-lot's house, and then climbs in a tree so she can see her friend's reaction. But the exertion of pushing the present leaves her exhausted, and she falls asleep. In the tree. And her present goes rolling down the slight slope of Love-a-lot's front walk, of course. Leaving it out in the open to be found by UR-2 and Rocketbottom, who are prowling around Care-a-lot in search of something for Grizzle. Well, this gift basket seems to fit the bill, despite being covered in hearts. And since it's just sitting out in the open, they take it back to Grizzle's lair. Since it's only a 10 minute episode, a piece of Sargeant Rocketbottom falls off and lands in Care-a-lot, although it is goes unseen by Cheer, who is still sleeping in the tree.
She finally wakes up once the commercials are over, and seeing the present gone, assumes she missed seeing Love-a-lot find it. She rings the doorbell, but Love-a-lot is not at home, so she leaves, disappointed. I don't know why she would think Love-a-lot would stay home on her birthday. Or anytime, really. If there's a chance to say "I love it!" about something, you know Love-a-lot will be there. Girl gets around. Speaking of Love-a-lot, the birthday girl is drinking hot chocolate with Funshine at the moment, though it's obvious she's using it to drown her sorrows, since Cheer still hasn't shown up to wish her Happy Birthday. She does not appreciate Funshine's attempt to lighten the mood with some humor.
Cheer runs into Grumpy, who refutes what I said earlier - no birthday girl (and especially not Love-a-lot) is going to stay home on her special day. Cheer tells him that she hasn't heard a word from Love-a-lot about the gift basket and wonders how her friend could be so cruel. Later, Grumpy runs into Funshine, and the two of them end up revealing what the other pink bear thinks is going on, and come to conclusion that a third party got involved and took the basket, and since they're the ones that know about it, they have to let Cheer and Love-a-lot know as well. Only, not in the obvious way of explaining to each one what's going on, but rather, putting the two together in Care Square and watching a parody of High Noon play out. The two pink bears put two and two together a little too quickly for my tastes (but then, I'm still hung up on Grumpy and Funshine not just explaining the situation outright), and then they make up by doing a weird hug-dance (which is kind of cute, I guess). Once that's over with, they turn to Funshine and Grumpy (as they should!) to find out what happened to the basket, but the two bears are as much in the dark about this as any of them.
The four bears go to investigate around Love-a-lot's house, but they have no leads until Cheer finds Sargeant Rocketbottom's missing part. The bears ponder it, then look up toward the only place it could have come from...where Grizzle is just opening the gift basket. He's quite keen on the purple skateboard, and even gets out of his mechasuit so that he can ride it with more control (Little Grizzle on a skateboard, having the time of his life--definitely the best part of the episode. More episodes should lead up to something like this). The Care Bears go to investigate, and seeing Grizzle skating around his lair, they are astonished. Grumpy sagely notes, "He's never giving it back." They are ambushed by UR-2 and Rocketbottom, and Funshine waves the missing part in Rocketbottom's face, but the robot simply takes it back gratefully. UR-2 apologizes, but explains the situation, and notes that Grizzle is "almost happy," thanks to the gift basket. The bears huddle up and Cheer and Love-a-lot come to the conclusion that the thought behind the gift is more important than the gift itself, and they rub cheeks. They all agree that anything that keeps Grizzle happy (and out of Care-a-lot) is a good thing, and they tell UR-2 and Rocketbottom that because the two of them are such good friends to Grizzle, he can keep the basket. The robots thank them and offer a favor in return. Since Rocketbottom added that they would do anything, the Care Bears call on them to be waiters at Love-a-lot's party that evening. Rocketbottom accidently gets his head knocked into the punch, UR-2 fishes it out, and the episode is over.
Man, oh man. This episode. Oh man. Ooooh the subtext. Granted, maybe this is just me, but seriously, I don't know how anyone can watch this one and not come out shipping UR-2 and Rocketbottom, even just a little. The hints for Cheer/Love-a-lot are more subtle, but definitely there. I have to admit, though, my personal canon has Love-a-lot being pretty fickle, so this year she was all about Cheer, but by next year, someone else could be her birthday offender.
Grumpy gives her a balloon (cute!)