Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Episode review: S8E19: "On the Road to Friendship"

Starlight, wearing a red robe, confronts a crying Trixie in front of their wagon
"No, Trixie, I'm sorry. That jackalope costume just doesn't work."
Here we are again, back with the episode reviews after the "Yakity-Sax" break. To remind you: I reviewed that ep back when DF first showed it. This time we're back with E19, which brought the popular (with most) modern team of Starlight and Trixie back together. The episode was written by show stalwart Josh Haber, whose previous effort this season was the pretty darn good "Molt Down". Could he bring us another 22 minutes of fun?

He could indeed! This episode was in the "superior filler" category, with nothing terribly deep or (probably) important for the upcoming finale, but a whole heap of entertainment. As the title might suggest, this episode was inspired by the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby/Dorothy Lamour "Road to..." movies. Fittingly for Equestria, however, here we had two female buddies and a male supporting character, the Saddle Arabian Hoo'Far. (Only named in the end credits, for some reason.)

We never actually got to see Saddle Arabia, which was a bit of a shame but understandable; Big Jim Miller explained that this was largely due to the extensive extra animation work that would have been needed. That implies we won't see SA in S9, either. However, we did get plenty of other locations to look at, most of which we'd seen before at one time or another. The ever-changing backgrounds helped to keep the road-movie feel going throughout.

Close-up of Hoo'far's cheerful face
"However, I could help you stop the pigeon!"
Starlight and Trixie have usually worked well together ever since S6, and their friendship was ideal for this episode. There's always a bit of a sense of "we two against the world" with them, and so it was once again. Their bickering felt quite realistic, and it eventually led to the ep's main point of conflict and the pair actually breaking up for a while. Hoo'Far, of course, was somehow on the spot again to pass comment.

We also got to see some of Trixie and Starlight's less appealing habits, from Glimmy's horrendous snoring to Trix's tic of sleep-performing. Sadly, her actual perfomances deteriorated in quality alarmingly once she'd fallen out with her companion! Still, we wouldn't have had all the delicious passive-agressive snarkiness otherwise, so who's complaining? Some nice visual gags, too, such as the long, long row of coloured handkerchiefs with a frying pan on the end.

We got a really catchy song this time, one whose jazzy style I really liked. It was very clearly inspired by the song from Road to Morocco, to the extent of apeing that film's fourth-wall leaning about the future of its stars! ("Five more years" in the original; "for nine, at least" here.) It's not always these days that one of Daniel Ingram's songs gets stuck in my head as soon as I see the episode, but this one certainly managed it.

Starlight going through the motions of helping with Trixie's magic show
"Soon I will reveal the thrilling latest update from Gameloft..."
There wasn't really much I disliked about this episode. I did think the last few minutes dragged just a tad – for example, the scene with Trixie lying in front of Hoo'Far's (well, her) caravan while he drank gallons of tea. Starlight's reference to snoring/bears during her time in Our Town felt a little bit forced, too. Those are small complaints, though, and for the most part this was pure pleasure.

Best quote: Starlight: "For nine [seasons], at least!"

  • Lots of fun almost throughout
  • Some excellent snark as Starlight and Trixie's relationship deteriorates
  • Plenty of interesting visuals to look at
  • A catchy song paying homage to its inspiration
  • A few pacing issues
  • We never actually get to Saddle Arabia


  1. One thing I genuinely like about this episode is that, after their first spat, they make up. Like, they're both well-developed enough at this point that they're not going to let a little thing like differing opinions come between them. It's only when lack of sleep starts them out on bad footing that pettiness (and Starlight being dumb) does any damage to their friendship. A nice touch for an episode that's otherwise focused on interpersonal drama.

    1. That's a good point. Quite a subtle touch for a Haber episode, too.