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Synopsis:

The Cutie Mark Crusaders have been summoned by the Cutie Map for the first time, and are surprised to discover it’s leading them to Mount Aris. Acting as chaperone and on school business (but not-so-secretly to give herself a bit of a vacation), Twilight Sparkle takes the girls there where they soon meet up with Silverstream’s brother Terramar. As they tour Mount Aris, they discover, following the defeat of the Storm King, only some of the residents have returned to living on Mount Aris as hippogriffs while others have elected to remain in the sea as seaponies. Terramar is troubled because half of his family, including his father, elected to return to land while the other half, including his mother, remained in the sea, and believes he has to choose one or the other. The CMCs decided to help out by making a chart of the pros and cons of both, but when Sweetie Belle starts fully endorsing Mount Aris while Scootaloo fully endorses Seaquestria, the two end up getting into a fight and leaving Terramar more confused than ever. However, after talking with Twilight and seeing how the hippogriffs and their seapony relatives continue to interact, the CMCs bring Terramar back to talk with his parents, who reveal neither of them ever wanted him to choose between being a hippogriff or a seapony, and just want him to be happy. Terramar elects to maintain the option to be both, and the flanks of the CMCs glow to indicate a job well done.

Review:

While I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the resolution, I still say this was the first good episode since the premiere and one of the better episodes of Season Eight.

The world building sells a big part of this episode, namely in how it shows the new Mount Aris and Seaquestria. I’m rather impressed with the latter and how it manages to keep the look from the movie on a reduced budget. The respective societies being highlighted is a nice touch too. One might think that the hippogriffs are a bit prideful and arrogant in their choice of festivities and that it’s a bit much for the audience, especially the fact that once a week they hold an event that’s simply celebrating how great it is to be a hippogriff, but it kind of makes sense when you think about it. If you were stuck the body of a different species and forced to be restricted to one large cave for your world for years, you might want to flaunt your original body and freedom a bit. It’s all very colorful and nice looking. The song and environment is a nice touch too. It really helps add some color and interest to the normally mundane-set CMC episodes.

The problem in the episode is also one that Y-rated shows tend to dance around…although on viewing again I’m actually not exactly sure what the problem was. The thought I had the first time through this episode was that it was dealing with the subject of divorce, especially considering the fact that a big highlight was it was a separation of the mother and father and Terramar felt he had to choose between the two. On rewatching, however…I think the case could be made that it was covertly pushing transgenderism. I’ll stick with the divorce angle for this review, however.

Divorce is, after all, quite a prevalent issue in modern Western society, and, very sad to say, kids not only get often caught in the middle but exploited by both parents. Speaking from personal experience, I don’t think anything quite degenerates people into their most wicked, selfish, depraved, and downright insane states than divorce…as if they abandon all morals and just become savages who constantly refuse to admit any of their own atrocious behavior. Yet even if it remained civil, I think all kids probably feel, in a sense, that either parent wants to be the “favorite” parent. And there is a touch of that in this episode. Both Sky Beak and Ocean Flow clearly wish Terramar would spend the bulk of his time with them, even if they aren’t aware of it themselves. This is definitely one of those hard life choices, and it’s made especially hard on a kid because it was imposed on them.

That’s why I’m not too happy about the resolution. When the show presented a really difficult choice that even small children might feel pressured to make, the solution was to simply remove the choice all together. Sky Beak and Ocean Flow ended up looking more “separated” rather than “divorced” and had no hostility to one another, so having Terramar freely move between the two was no issue for them. While I think it’s important for kids to know in the case of divorced parents that both still love them even if they aren’t together anymore (at least I hope that’s the case…), the rest of what happened in the resolution was pretty much the best possible case scenario and, unfortunately, not often realistic. Especially since very often it’s courts that will decide where the child goes and for how long.

So, on handling the topic of divorce, even as a metaphor, I rate this episode lower than average. Everything else, though, including the setting, the music, and even the cuteness of the CMC, definitely hits.

Fun Facts:

This episode was one of six that was stolen from DHX Media while still in production and posted to Youtube several months before airing. Although authorities were quick to intervene, they still showed up on long time MLP:FIM fan search results rather quickly and for several days.

The first (possibly only) time the CMCs were summoned by the Cutie Map.

While Silverstream’s first appearance had showed off that she had a fragment of Queen Novo’s pearl, this was the first episode to show off how the hippogriffs/merponies…sorry, seaponies achieve their duality.

In Latin, “terra” is land and “mare” is sea. So Terramar’s name translates to “landsea”.

Am I the only one who finds it a bit odd that the hippogriffs love the princess who tried to steal their most precious possession from them and ended up banished from their kingdom as a result? 😛

The look on Apple Bloom’s face when Scootaloo suggests Terramar decide to live in Ponyville. 😛

Rating:

3 Stars out of 5