MLP Review: “Road to Friendship”

In a brilliant ode to the Road Trip movies of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, Starlight and Trixie go on a road trip to Saddle Arabia. It’s similar to “Pinkie Apple Pie” in its setup, but it’s Starlight looking forward to a road trip with her best friend Trixie and her cramped caravan that must be her home—though they don’t really specify why Trixie prefers her caravan to the most spacious one from the Saddle Arabian Hoo’Far.

It is a straightforward story that is an ode to the Crosby-Hope “Road to…” pictures of the 1940s and 1950s. The song was the highlight as Starlight and Trixie play off each other in comedic fashion mixed with the usual problems encountered in a road trip episode such as finding a room, going off budget, etc.

Starlight and Trixie attempting a friendship chant like Twilight’s and Cadance’s was also hilarious. The appearance of Hoo’Far during each scene was timely. The one issue I have besides not giving a specific explanation as to why Trixie does not want to part ways with her caravan is that Starlight indeed had no right to trade it away in the first place. Outside of that, the episode is a continuation of the slow, but certain improvement of the episodes as Season Eight, for those following the US broadcast schedule, winds down.

GRADE: A-

StatManDan

MLP Review: The End in Friend

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

MLP Review: Friendship University

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