Starlight Glimmer is excited for Sunburst to arrive from the Crystal Empire, eager to spend the next couple days hanging out and catching up with her old friend as she believes they have so much in common. However, the visit doesn’t go quite as planned. It turns out Sunburst has developed an interest in antiques which Twilight Sparkle shares, causing the first day to be blown antiquing all day with her. The next day when she tries to get some apples from Sweet Apple Acres, she runs into Trixie, at which point Sunburst reveals his interest in stage magic and spends the whole morning with her instead. When she tries to show her to the Mirror Pool later, they bump into Maud, and, again, Sunburst reveals an interest in geology and spends his time with her. Desperate to try and relive their old friendship, Starlight ends up resorting to a spell that both transforms the interior of the Castle of Friendship into the house they played in as foals and regresses them to child age so they can play a board game called Dragon Pit. This, however, both unsettles and upsets Sunburst, and as a result of his backlash Starlight fears that he would prefer to be friends with her other friends, and that they now have so little in common that they can’t be friends anymore. When she runs off, Sunburst learns about her fears and tries to think of something the two still have in common, but coming up dry he turns to Twilight, Trixie, and Maud and discovers she doesn’t have terribly much in common with them other than they understand each other and accept each other. With that in mind, the four of them make a life-sized version of Dragon Pit to play with Starlight so that they can all do something together as friends. Starlight and Sunburst realize having a lot in common isn’t necessarily needed to be friends, so long as you understand and appreciate one another and enjoy being together. Starlight helps Sunburst get on board a train bound for home with a “blind buy” barrel of antiques, which includes a rather ancient book with a star swirl pattern…
I disliked “Marks and Recreation” the most this season, but this one remains a contender for one of my more disliked episodes.
It has a good lesson…kind of. The idea that you don’t have to actually have things in common to be friends. True, but…most of the time you do. It’s a rare occasion that you don’t, and usually in my experience your “bestie” is not the person you have the least in common with. The idea of having friends with different interests and appreciating each other in how they’re something you’re not was already explored better in “Discordant Harmony”. Nevertheless, the lesson is appropriate here. Starlight is indeed different from almost any other character on the show. Her choice in friends reflects her ability to understand them rather than already having a pre-established interest in geology, stage magic, etc. And really the only thing you need to do to have someone want to hang around you is appreciate them for who they are. So, even though it’s a teeny bit of a stretch, it’s still a good moral.
We have good bits from both Maud Pie and Trixie in this one too. It’s nice to see the continuity with them. Maud doesn’t get a terribly large amount of screen time but she does get to “be Maud” in all of her scenes. (Amazing how so much of Maud’s personality can come out when she has so little personality. :P) And if you find Trixie obnoxious usually, this is one of her “lighter” episodes. And honestly? She is a bit cute-looking when she doesn’t have her normally arrogant look on her face.
Nevertheless, I found some bad things in this episode. The biggest one is Sunburst. The only thing I’d say he has in common with Starlight is neither of them have a high degree of empathy for others. When an old friend invites you over to spend a few days together, you were invited to spend time with them, not their friends. Now, at first it’s forgivable. Sunburst could have forgotten himself in the moment with Twilight. And he does say Starlight doesn’t have to pretend to like what they’re doing. All of that is fine. But when Starlight wakes him up early the next day and all he goes on about is Twilight-this and Twilight-that, not to mention once he hears Twilight won’t be coming with them he ignores Starlight and tries to go back to sleep…yeah. Sunburst also never seems to fully realize his own mistake. The closest we ever get is toward the end of the episode when he tries to think of things he and Starlight has in common and begins to realize they don’t have anything in common. Yet that realization never translates to him fully thinking Starlight may have had a point in being upset. At the end of the episode, he still seems to think she was “worried for nothing”.
It’s true that Starlight goes (a bit creepily) too far with regressing their ages, but she’s done worse and she reverted it pretty quickly. I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but…this episode actually makes me sympathize with Starlight in “The Cutie Re-Mark”. Yeah. I actually feel she was casually tossed aside by someone being an insensitive jerk now. There were parts in this episode I wondered why she wants to be friends with Sunburst at all.
Aside from that, the resolution seemed a bit awkward. If trying to physically relive childhood is disturbing, I don’t think playing a giant version of the game is much better. It’s still Starlight only able to remember them having anything in common as children, and both of them grew up. I thought it would have been nicer if both of them had learned more to appreciate each other’s company rather than…that. I still don’t get the sense that Starlight and Sunburst are very close at the end other than the plot fairy said “make it so”. That seems to happen a lot with Starlight…
So, while I don’t think it was much of a “stinker” in the realm of bad episodes, I still didn’t leave feeling to great about it even with the moral and cameos.
IDW My Little Pony #53 is a prequel to this episode, and was the first appearance of Starswirl’s journal as well as “the Pony of Shadows”. On the last page, it highlights the barrel containing Starswirl’s journal.
IDW My Little Pony: Legends of Magic #6 opens with an alternate ending to this episode in another instance of the comic and the show not quite synching up, but ignoring that the comic is, in all other ways, a continuation of this episode and, in turn, is also a direct prequel to “Shadow Play”.
Sunburst can give Rarity a run for her money on luggage packing.
The Mighty Helm, the group that Rockhoof belonged to, is mentioned in the antique shop. By looking at the old map you can get a vague idea of where all of their Old Pillars of Equestria originated. Mistmane’s country was in the northeast, Rockhoof’s country was on the west coast, Somnambula’s country was to the southwest, and Mage Meadowbrook’s country was the southeast. Flash Magnus was obviously Cloudsdale while Starswirl the Bearded was obviously Canterlot. By the way, Starlight sounds unimpressed but…I find the fact the earth ponies made a map of Equestria a thousand years ago to be impressive.
Old Ponish gets mentioned again, and this time actually spoken: “Hliet forsettan pliht.” or “Reward prefers risk.”
Another Donald Duck moment in which Sunburst is embarrassed to be seen from under the covers with his cape on.
Even if you don’t like Trixie, you got to admit she looks rather adorable in a lot of scenes in this episode. 🙂
In another questionable decision by Starlight Glimmer, she uncovered the Mirror Pool from Season Three’s “Too Many Pinkie Pies”. Eh, Maud would have found it anyway. On the plus side, this finally eliminates the fear any fan might have had that the original Pinkie got trapped down there. 😛 Later in the episode, Boulder appears to have duplicated himself…er, herself?
“I thought he came to Ponyville to see you?” Excellent point, Twilight.
Pumice is indeed a light rock. It actually floats. Also, Maud is the only one who doesn’t snicker at the pitfall Starlight made.
On the train at the end, Lyra and Bon Bon get off the train together.
At first I thought Trixie had gotten good enough to levitate all of Sunburst’s luggage, but…it turns out Twilight is using her horn too. 😛
2 Stars out of 5