Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Episode review: S8E16: "Friendship University"

Rarity (as "Plainity") and Twilight (as "Eye Patch") argue
"This was the only emergency eye patch Pinkie had left!"
Well, it seems that I did have time to write a quick episode review after all. It's been a while since we saw Chris "Doc" Wyatt and Kevin Burke on the writers' credits for My Little Pony. In fact, their last episode was S6's "Viva Las Pegasus", which divided fandom opinion but which I liked rather a lot, and not only because of all the Fluttershy. How would this week's effort shape up? Come past the break with me and we'll find out!

So, the last episode by these writers was about Flim and Flam pulling a scam in Las Pegasus. This episode, on the other hoof, was about... yeah. I'd actually been spoiled on the brothers being in this, but given the above it wouldn't have been hard to guess in any case. It turned out to be an entertaining episode, not incredible but very watchable, and saved from simple filler status by the presence of a certain pair of ponies who I'll get to in a bit.

Despite my enjoyment of "Viva Las Pegasus", I don't usually love FlimFlam episodes, though I do usually like them. That was the case here. It maybe didn't help that their song was rather by-the-numbers – nothing wrong with it exactly, but I've listened to it twice through now and can't remember most of the words. It's on the same level as "Miracle Curative Tonic" from S4's "Leap of Faith", and a notch below their debut song in "SSCS6K" back in S2.

Chancellor Neighsay and Flam, standing together, look smug
New headcanon: Neighsay is in fact The Master
The highlight of the episode was definitely Plainity. I was half-hoping her outfit from "Rarity Investigates!" would make a reappearance, but what we got made more sense. At least we had a Shadow Spade reference. It's interesting that Flim and Flam didn't know who Rarity was even after she dropped her disguise. Another point to consider in the vexed and confusing question of how famous the Mane Six actually are outside Ponyville and Canterlot.

It was also nice to see Snarky!Twilight back for a bit, since like a lot of fans I rather miss that aspect of her early-series character. Her "disguise" was amusingly terrible, but I still can't quite credit that nopony at all noticed that an alicorn was wandering around the school. Unless Larsonism is epidemic in Las Pegasus, you'd think that would have been noticed even if the eye patch was considered entirely authentic.

Starswirl was interesting this time around. Despite his age, ability and experience, he showed a considerable naivety about Friendship Uni, simply taking a number of obviously (to us) dodgy comments at face value. Maybe that's what a thousand years away from society does to you. On the other hoof, I think he was right to call out Twilight on her jealousy – she was getting worked up to an unreasonable degree about her idol choosing to go to an establishment that wasn't hers.

Flam shows half a clock to a thrilled-looking orange mare
Clearly the gift she's always wanted...
And so to Chancellor Neighsay. I wondered whether we might see him again in this episode, and so it proved. He remains a racist jerk, though that did prompt me to wonder what would have happened if the Student Six had ended up in Las Pegasus. (That early subplot unfortunately disappeared without trace.) As for Cozy Glow, we're definitely supposed to believe she's up to something. Why else would she have been in that final scene? Hmm.

Oh, and FanOfMostEverything pointed out on Fimfiction that with their "tuition is free, but you have to pay for lessons" approach, the Flim Flam Brothers had invented freemium education in Equestria. This is not going to end well... overall, a solidly enjoyable episode. A slight step down from last week's excellent ep, but nevertheless perfectly watchable – and of course if Cozy Glow does prove to be significant, it could become more than that in the end.

Best quote: Twilight: "My name's Eye Patch. I have an eye patch."

  • Quite an interesting setup with Neighsay
  • Starswirl showing his naivety after so long
  • Good to see snarky Twilight back
  • Plainity was a fun "character"
  • Why didn't Twi recognise her own lessons?
  • It's a bit of a stretch that Flim and Flam don't know who Rarity is
  • Not the most memorable of songs

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