We have an interesting question in class asked by the Young Six: How can two ponies with very divergent interests such as Rarity and Rainbow Dash be friends? Rarity and Rainbow Dash have a hard time answering that question themselves as Rarity is more concerned with uniforms than catching the ball in buckball while Rainbow Dash is every person ever waiting on someone shopping for footwear. (I know Applejack is the cowgirl, but Rarity has worn cowgirl boots much more often on the show.) Things come to a head in the gem mine when Dash wants to go treasure hunting while Rarity is looking at the gems and appear to wreck Twilight’s lesson.

Both are called into Starlight’s office and she suggests putting themselves in the other’s shoes (not necessarily Rarity’s boots which could be an opportunity for Hasbro or Build-A-Bear). Rarity is given a “Daring Do” book while Rainbow Dash is given a “Shadow Spade” book—neither one reads the other’s book.

Cue the contrived missing artifact for Rainbow Dash and Rarity to find and learn something new from each other. We meet a new creature in a Bufagren and Rarity creates toothpaste that freshens its breath. The trail of blue glitter (not the magenta glitter from Rarity’s boots) leads to Spike who had the amulet all along. And that’s our lesson for today every creature!

I like how this is turned into a friendship lesson for the Young Six as it fits the theme of the season. It also gives us a chance to see the (}no pun intended) rare dynamic between Rainbow Dash and Rarity. It’s also good that they show it is normal for friends to disagree and banter from time to time.

This could well have been a recycle of a Season One episode (“Look Before You Sleep” in particular), but it’s saved by the fact that it is wrapped around teaching a lesson to the Young Six. The only issue I have is that you can tell that this quest was a setup, especially if you recognize the school’s symbol on the door. Outside of that, this is still a good episode as it continues a string of them.

GRADE: B+

StatManDan

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817 – “The End in Friend”

Written by: Gillian M. Berrow
Rarity and Rainbow Dash begin to question why they are friends when they can’t find anything they both like to do together.

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After hearing from Starswirl the Bearded and his travels, Twilight learns about a place in Las Pegasus called Friendship University that promises that you can learn friendship in half the time as Twilight’s school. Twilight and Rarity investigate and find that it’s being run by the Flim-Flam brothers and they get EEA accreditation from Neighsayer because Season Finale setup.

Rarity and Twilight go undercover to find evidence of the scam and the latter (with a poor disguise) gets caught breaking in while the former blends in because she had a better disguise. They discover that the while tuition is free, the worksheets are not and they are funding the Flim Flam’s resort expansion. Not necessarily illegal, but it is certainly unethical and certainly a shot at for-profit education. Something the Flim-Flams did that is illegal was plagiarize Twilight’s school guide. Starswirl, who was a student at the school, tells them to return the money to the students and shut down the university.

So yes, this is quite a preview of the season finale with Neighsayer challenging Twilight and the hinting of Cozy Glow as subtle a a brick through a window.

The episode itself is good, though points off because Twilight’s disguise leaves a lot to be desired while Rarity again steals the show. Surely she could have done better for Twilight’s disguise. Outside of that, we do get a good lesson in standing up for one’s beliefs even though it means risking your reputation. Overall, what this episode does is to provide some setup for the Season Finale.

GRADE: B+

StatManDan

[source]

816 – “Friendship University”

Written by: Chris “Doc” Wyatt, Kevin Burke
When Twilight discovers there’s another school of friendship, she and Rarity go to investigate and are shocked to discover that Twilight’s idol and Pillar of Old Equestria, Starswirl the Bearded, is enrolled at Friendship U!

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Before they aired “Yakity-Sax”, there was half the season gone and half the season to go. The second half of Season Eight starts in earnest with two episodes—both a step up from that monstrosity.

“A Matter of Principals”

Discord likes testing ponies. Starlight is the target as he sends the Mane Six on a wild goose chase and makes life hard for the interim head mare since he got passed over. We also learn that smart-watches and long-distance plans are now canon. Starlight is a tougher nut to crack than most while Discord was being a bit too jerky like he was in “Make New Friends But Keep Discord”.

Some of the gags were funny, some of the cameos were great, but the episode does suffer a bit from Discord’s antics. Starlight finally tones done Discord by apologizing for flatly rejecting his “help” in the first place (though fans would have approved of her zapping Discord). Also good is that Starlight learning that magic does not solve all problems—especially miscreant draconequeses.

GRADE: B


“The Hearth’s Warming Club”

We’re going Breakfast Club for this one, but thankfully neither Twilight, nor Rainbow Dash ends up like Assistant Principal Vernon. The comparisons to the actual ‘Club’ do not really work here since there were five of them and we have six in this episode. (OK, maybe Gallus is Bender).

Remember how I said MLP usually does a good job of giving a fresh take of a oft-told storyline? This is what I am talking about. With the theme of the season, it does give everyone a chance to tell holiday stories from back home. Ocellus’s was great. Yona’s was good and everyone thought we would be in for a running gag at that point. Smolder’s was…..original. Silverstream’s was terrific. Sandbar’s story was the kind of story either Hamton from Tiny Toons or PBS’s Between the Lions would tell.

That leads us to Gallus. It’s actually sad, yet understandable that he grew up in a culture where friendship is virtually non-existent. Even their “holiday” is more of tolerance than anything. Gallus is having a better experience with the rest of the Young Six at the School and didn’t want to let go of it even for a couple weeks, so that’s why he pranked the tree.

This was actually a nice episode and give something of a backstory to some of the Young Six and how other cultures in the MLP world celebrate holidays. Though, one has to wonder why this episode is airing in August. Then again, of the four Hearth’s Warming Episodes, just one originally aired in December (“Hearth’s Warming Eve”). Then again, there is a Holiday Special on the way after the season.

GRADE: A-

StatManDan

[source]

815 – “The Hearth’s Warming Club”

Written by: Brian Hohlfeld
A prank gone wrong ruins Hearth’s Warming Eve preparations; while Twilight tries to figure out which of her students is behind it, the students bond over shared memories of home.

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[source]

814 – “A Matter of Principals”

Written by: Nicole Dubuc
When Twilight Sparkle leaves Starlight in charge of the School of Friendship, Discord is frustrated he wasn’t picked for the job, and he does his best to make Starlight’s new role impossible.

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