Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Episode review: S8E08: "The Parent Map"

Starlight's rather metal teenage bedroom
Bedroom design by Horse Voice
Season 8 has been going quite well recently if you ask me. You probably don't ask me, but I'm going to tell you anyway. The perils of reading Louder Yay. Anyway, we had a returning writer this time: Dave Rapp, previously responsible for "Newbie Dash", "Flutter Brutter" and "Where the Apple Lies". Not a collection that everyone enjoyed, but I thought all three episodes were at least okay and so was cautiously optimistic. In the end, we got...

...a solid episode. I think it was a little bit of a step down from the last two, but it was always going to be an uphill struggle to win me over with a Sunburst-heavy story. I don't dislike the stallion, but I don't tend to find him especially interesting. He does usually work well with Starlight, though. Glimmy in my book has been the most consistently entertaining pony in S8, and she did well again this week.

The storyline was a pretty unoriginal one, and in truth it didn't do a lot beyond going over well-worn ground quite efficiently. Still, the solid writing meant it was always watchable, and the characterisation was especially nice in one respect: the side characters actually had a bit of personality. I'd almost have liked to have spent more time in that baker's company than in that of the parents of the title. I wonder if he knows Sugar Belle?

Talking of the parents, I didn't find either all that compelling, though again they served the plot well enough. Good choices of names in Firelight and Stellar Flare, too. Even so, it did feel at times as though we'd been here before – and I prefer the way annoying parents were handled in "Parental Glideance". You could see this episode's resolution coming almost from the start, but I can live with that when the journey is entertaining.

Starlight and Sunset look on concernedly at Firelight and Stellar Flare talking in front of a fountain
Starlight was the only pony in Sire's Hollow who wasn't wearing clothes or accessories
One thing I found a bit irritating was the bookshop subplot, which didn't seem well thought out. Starlight and Sunburst were told they couldn't handle the books, but: a) as unicorns, they don't need to handle books to read them; and b) ponies did handle the books later in the same episode, with no explanation. The staff members at the bookshop were a little obvious, but I suppose once again they served their purpose.

I was more interested in Starlight's background than Sunburst's throughout this episode, and we had some nice little scenes. Glimmy's obvious discomfort when reminded of her past was one, though "I know I've made some mistakes ... that's what growing up is" is maybe putting a slight bit of a gloss on becoming a cult leader and enslaving a town for several years. I bet she'd have had creepy talking gates fitted in Our Town if she'd thought about it.

Sire's Hollow itself was the sort of town I usually dislike in MLP: too modern for Equestria. As regular readers will know, I tend to fret about Manehattan-set episodes for the same reason. However, this time there was a good reason, and the tension between excessive modernisation and excessive preservation was something that a really great episode might have made the centrepiece of its story. I must see if I can find any fics that do deal with this.

As you can see, I have less to say about this episode than about some others. It didn't massively exercise me either way, and was more a time-passer than anything else. The scenes involving both Starlight and Sunburst do enough to raise it above the mediocre, and – let's face it – that one shot of Glimmy's old bedroom would make the ep worth the watch. A predictable story with a predictable moral, but with some nice touches scattered through.

In the bakery, the baker shows off a blackened loaf to an unconvinced Starlight and Sunburst. Firelight looks on
Dwarf bread apparently has an Equestrian equivalent
Best quote: Stellar Flare: "Use your words, Sunburst."

  • Pleasant friendshipping between Starlight and Sunburst
  • A generally solidly executed script
  • Interesting, if underexplored, tension about development
  • Starlight's teenage bedroom!
  • Sunburst still struggles to be a compelling character
  • Some inconsistencies in the bookshop scenes
  • The parents were a little by-the-numbers


  1. I don't Know of you ended up being 100% negative on Fale it til you male it (which is Your least favorite of the season and If I remember well the only one you didn't considered at least completely solid), but I think I should warn you: Get ready to do Your first 100% negative review of S8 next Monday. I won't spoil anything but as I watched the eps when they leaked, I Will say just this: Non-Compete Clause is the very first episode I strongly disliked since the S6 finale... I won't add anything else.

    1. I've never been 100% negative on any episode of the show. Not even "What About Discord?", which I don't like at all. Also, I really liked the S6 finale, so the fact that you didn't enjoy next week's doesn't necessarily mean I won't! We'll see. :)

    2. Uhm, yeah, I admit that the S6 finale has a certain apprectiation in the fandom despite My deep hate For it. What I meant is: It's hard For me to hate or even dislike an episode (I disliked only a Total of 18 eps including the above mentioned Non-Compete Clause and the S6 finale... And half of them are from S1...) so yeah...

      Seriously thought, even thought the synopsis gives an hint about that, the next episode is just a Total mess, and it Will deserve the negative reviews it Will get....

      On the bright side, For once I'm looking forward to the negative reviews this time around. You Know negative reviews of things that DESERVE to be panned usually give me plenty of laughs. :-)

    3. As I say, we'll see.

  2. The comparisons to "Parental Glideance" were inevitable, but I personally prefer the way "The Parent Map" handled things in that regard: specifically, that the writing didn't try to depict the parents as blameless. That was the one real problem I had last year with what was otherwise a very entertaining episode, so not seeing it repeated was nice.

    1. I pretty much agree – that was one of my very few real complaints about "Parental Glideance". I still like that episode better overall, but "The Parent Map" was indeed better on that particular score.