822 – “What Lies Beneath”

Written by: Michael Vogel
The students at Twilight’s School of Friendship are cramming for an exam on the History of Magic in Equestria in the school library when they discover a part of the school that no other ponies know about.

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Well, that was a unexpected. Rockhoof is trying to find his place in the modern world after being in limbo for 1,000 years. His “traditional” methods of unearthing artifacts clashing with the meticulous methods of Professor Fossil in Rockhoof’s old land. His re-enactment of his tales tends to cause damage to Twilight’s school. He also disrupts a fire-breathing contest between Spike and Smolder, mistaking it for a raging fire.

The other pillars haven been adjusting much better than Rockhoof. In Canterlot, Flash Magnus is the new drill sergeant for Princess Celestia’s royal guards. In the Crystal Empire, Mistmane is the royal landscape artist for Princess Cadance and Prince Shining Armor. In her village home in Southern Equestria, Somnambula is a motivational speaker and meditation guru. In the Hayseed Swamp, Mage Meadowbrook sells potions and remedies out of her home/health clinic. Even Stygian has found moderate success as a best-selling novelist. Seeing how well his old friends have adjusted to living in modern-day Equestria, Rockhoof feels more miserable and out of place than ever.

A job as General Seaspray’s Hippogriff Navy goes awry when using the stars to guide the way does not take into account rocks in the ocean. And yes, I’m not sure why the Hippogriffs need a Navy when they can turn into sea ponies, either.

Rockhoof is miserable to the point where he asks Twilight to cast a spell to turn him to stone (because we can’t say assisted suicide on a TV-Y show). However, Yona, inspired by Rockhoof’s stories, reads him her essay about how she felt she didn’t fit at the school at first, but has since made close friends. Rockhoof suddenly has an audience when he decides to finish the story.

Seeing this, Twilight make him the Official Keeper of Tales in Equestria. She’s a Princess, don’t question it. Rockhoof finally has purpose in the modern world.

Here is one of the more surprising episodes in the series. Much like “Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?” took a darker tone with its topic of self-torture to relieve past pains, this is pretty much as close as this show will get to hinting at suicide much like “Tanks for the Memories” used hibernation of a pet in lieu of death of a loved one.

Much as I feel that Steven Universe can tell its stories in 22-minute episodes (read: “Bismuth”) even though it sticks to 11-minute episodes, MLP could well have episodes that deal with touchy topics with a semblance of maturity if given the chance. That was one area that puts Mister Rogers and even Arthur in a class of their own, but I need to get back on track with the episode in question.

There really isn’t that much wrong with this one and it’s in the top tier for this season. It’s about someone trying to find their place in the world after a seemingly long time away from it and that one should keep trying instead looking for a way to leave it. It’s nice to see all the Pillars again, though you do wish they were able to help more. However, we do get a nice save from Yona and by extension the Young Six who were actually enthused by his stories.

We’ve had some good character moments this season, we just needed some better stories and this episode fits the latter.

GRADE: A

PS: Since a series continuity error has been brought to my attention on “The Washouts”, I have to downgrade my grade on that episode to a B.

Pointless Ponies Update 09/16/18

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My Little Pony 821 – A Rockhoof and a Hard Place Episode Guide

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821 – “A Rockhoof and a Hard Place”

Written by: Kaita Mpambara
When Rockhoof, heroic Pillar of the past, is having trouble fitting into the modern world, Twilight Sparkle and her friends strive to help him find a new purpose.

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MLP Review: The Washouts

The episode begins with Scootaloo fast-tracking the meeting of the Rainbow Dash Fan Club with a new Washouts fan group—which makes an eavesdropping Rainbow Dash worried that she has competition as someone Scoot looks up to. The Washouts are a group of former Wonderbolt Academy Cadets who specialize in more extreme stunts with no regard for safety.

The Washouts are of course being led by Lightning Dust, in her first appearance on the show in 130 episodes, and who is apparently as bitter as Johnny is in “Cobra Kai”. Lightning Dust founded the Washouts to fulfill her disregard for safety and the strict rules and regulations of the Wonderbolts.

When an opening comes up, Scootaloo is interested, but Rainbow Dash throws a block. Rainbow takes her to Wonderbolts HQ so that Spitfire can go into full “Matt Foley” mode to dissuade Scootaloo from joining the Wonderbolts and drop out so she could join the Washouts.

Scootaloo is not discouraged and joins the Washouts. She also says she gave up in trying to following in Rainbow’s hooves because she can’t fly. Scootaloo wants to do stunts with her scooter. However, the stunt Lightning Dust has in mind for Scootaloo, now that she knows that the latter is forming a Washouts fan club, is something Evel Knievel wouldn’t even try in his heyday. Dash saves Scootaloo from the stunt while Lightning Dust blasts off like Team Rocket and proclaims her lifelong rivalry with Rainbow Dash.

In the meantime, Rainbow Dash forms the “Scootaloo Fan Club” with Dash’s parents as members.

Here, the lesson is that Dash needed to let Scootaloo make her own decisions and can only be a great role model for her. That also means allowing her to learn from making the wrong decisions. Following a team of stunt ponies with no regard for safety clearly falls into that category. Scootaloo’s following of a pony other than Dash also calls attention to Dash’s own insecurities about someone upstaging her.

It’s a good episode with a good lesson even though there were some extraneous elements such as Pinkie’s cupcakes and why Twilight would be interested in the Washouts. Then there is Spitfire. Evidently, Nick Confalone was watching a DVD of the Best of Chris Farley (RIP) on Saturday Night Live when figuring out how to incorporate Spitfire into this episode. Anyone who watched SNL during the 1990s would enjoy that scene. If you did not, it was cringeworthy.

So it’s a good Dash and Scootaloo episode, though some things were a bit extraneous and one bit was greatly exaggerated—and I’m not talking about the stunts (which you should NEVER try anywhere).

GRADE: A-

StatManDan

Pointless Ponies Update 09/12/2018

 

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My Little Pony 820 – The Washouts Episode Guide

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820 – “The Washouts”

Written by: Nick Confalone
When Scootaloo becomes enamored with The Washouts, a touring group of stunt ponies, Rainbow Dash is concerned for her safety and worries that Scoot’s days as her number one fan are over.

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