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Synopsis:

Hearth’s Warming Eve has come once again, and all of the students of the School of Friendship depart for their homes for holiday break. However, shortly after dismissal, an individual breaks into the school lounge and vandalizes the Hearth’s Warming tree. Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, and Spike chase after the culprit but lose him or her in the dormitory, where only the Student Six are left packing to leave. Knowing one of them is responsible, Twilight gives the culprit a chance to confess before taking the students aside one by one to interview them; telling that the culprit will have to stay at school over break for one-on-one remedial friendship lessons, but if the culprit is not found all six will have to miss the holidays. As the interviews go on and the others are left to start cleaning up the mess, Ocellus, Yona, Smolder, Sandbar, and Silverstream all share stories about their own respective holidays and everything they like about the time of year. However, when all students are interviewed and no one has confessed, they begin to angrily accuse each other of selfishly ruining their own holidays by not admitting. As their arguing intensifies, Gallus, not liking seeing them fighting, finally breaks down and admits he’s the culprit. He reveals that he’s actually an orphaned griffon, but since coming to school has grown to see the rest of the Student Six as his family. He purposely sabotaged the tree so that he’d have a chance to be with them longer and experience what a holiday was really like. Soon after, Twilight reenters; revealing she, Dash, and Spike realized it was him but wanted to give him a chance to confess. She sticks by her word and intends to give Gallus the punishment she promised, but this, in turn, prompts the other members of the Student Six to volunteer to stay over as well and give Gallus the family holiday he wanted. Pleased at their reaction, Twilight decides none of them need remedial friendship lessons and offers, as soon as they’re done cleaning up, to have them as her guests for her own Hearth’s Warming Eve festivities that year.

Review:

(Forrest Gump voice) And just like that…Gallus became the show’s biggest woobie.

This episode was a refreshing pick-me-up from the previous two. While I don’t think any of the Student Six can be a runaway Ensemble Darkhorse, as I said before collectively they were one of the highest points of Season Eight and episodes like this that focus on them are no exception. Once again we’re treated to a trip through these various interesting characters and, truly, their individual personalities really help sell this episode.

Even more so, we get to dip a bit deeper into their individual characters and flesh them out more from their initial appearances, but we also get a better concept of the nonpony races of Equestria and their respective cultures. In keeping with the overall moral of the Student Six to begin with, multiculturalism, it offers a look at how various peoples can see the same concept of a holiday. Aside from a few lines by Yona, it (perhaps mercifully) doesn’t touch so much on the idea of holidays being impressed upon uninterested cultures so much what each culture associates with a holiday being important.

On the low end…Sandbar, obviously. His own story is kind of a joke, but even character-wise he’s kind of so-so this episode. On one hand, I like how they bring back his easy-going and, perhaps, a bit of a “stoner”-type personality. On the other, they try doing a joke with him accusing Ocellus that doesn’t quite work out and makes it look like he’s singling her out. Considering the fact changelings and ponies used to be mortal enemies, and that starts looking like a touch of racism…

Next up is Smolder. Again, her story was mostly meant to be a joke, but, at the time, it kind of made me raise an eyebrow to the idea of ponies welcoming dragon culture. Here are a bunch of ponies offering to extend their hands in friendship to dragons…and here we see that dragons love to exploit kind-hearted and generous creatures and mock them for being weak. It kind of started making it look like Chancellor Neighsay might have been right about being wary of dragons. When taken more of the context of “What Lies Beneath” and Season Nine’s “Sweet and Smoky”, we would learn Smolder actually does have a gentler side that admires some of the aspects of Equestria, but that was a ways off when this episode came out.

Around the middle is Silverstream. It’s nice to still see her perky and I got a smirk from her attempt to join in yak traditions and break something, but simply being excitable and perky didn’t make her stand out too much this episode. If they had more instances where her eternally-happy attitude led her to do silly things like that, she would have stood out more.

Ocellus’ story was obviously the silliest holiday of all; basically one opportunity after another to misinterpret directions. However, I still liked it a bit. Shows how changeling culture is still very much like “kids playing pretend” as they try to find their own identity as a people. And, in truth, itย is how a lot of cultures around the world have formed. When people get displaced or relocated throughout history, they tend to either blend their traditions with local ones or absorb local tradition and put their own spin on it. As silly as Ocellus’ behavior was, she does point out that their misinterpretations are actually forming their own culture.

Yona’s story was pretty much what you expect yaks to do for their holidays. ๐Ÿ˜› However, at this point in the series, I admire the transition a bit. I was growing fully accustomed to Yona and, as a result, her idea of yak culture as well. Where before they seemed like prideful, aggressive brutes, now their tendency to go “yaks best at everything” is starting to seem more like a joke they’ve told so many times it’s starting to elicit a chuckle. Their nature of getting excited about finding things to smash and their exuberance has gone from being a sign of aggression to more of an endearing trait. Most importantly, however, is when I hear Yona exclaim “yaks best at ______”, I no longer think of it as something arrogant or snobbish but rather a sign of being so enthusiastic, energetic, and determined to do this, that, or the other thing that they’re going to be the best at it…that it’s kind of become something admirable.

And, of course, Gallus. For some time now people have wondered if Scootaloo is an orphan (in spite of her referring to her own parents in the past), but it turns out our first real orphan character ended up being him. While some people thought it was a tad cheesy or cliche, I actually was touched by the end of the episode. I honestly didn’t think he was one. I just thought…y’know…griffon. They’re sardonic and apathetic to everything.

The funny thing is the previous episode with Discord had as its theme a character doing something mean and hurtful to others out of feelings of being left out to selfishly benefit himself as well, so I actually asked myself after this episode was over if it was really fair to feel sympathy for Gallus as he did pretty much the same thing. Well, I guess what really sank it for me was not just that it was Gallus vs. Discord but the fact that Gallus did, in the end, see how he was hurting his friends and so he confessed of his own accord to spare them from being unhappy like him. And it was a rather high mark of the rest of the Student Six that, after how broken up they had been about the thought of missing the holidays, they realized it was far worse to have no family at all to go home to and so selflessly decided to stay to keep Gallus happy (even though, at the time, I’m not entirely sure Smolder would have done it without being coerced).

While Grandpa Gruff is pretty much the same level of grouchiness as the rest of the griffon race, the very fact he brought Gallus to the School of Friendship in spite of not being a blood relation shows he has to careย something for other griffons. While I’m still not sure if he was the one who dragged Gallus to the school or if Gallus expressed something of an interest at one point and Gruff decided to sponsor him, I now begin to think that the real reason Gallus came to the school was to finally have a family of his own. And it looks like he got it.

A cute, nice episode that made me eager to see more Student Six centered ones. Let’s all hug the grouchy griffon and pat his little head. ๐Ÿ˜›

Fun Facts:

The title is a reference to the 1980s film “The Breakfast Club”, which is similarly a story about a group of students stuck in detention over a Saturday connecting with each other.

Continuing MLP:FIM’s proud tradition of airing holiday-themed episodes at inappropriate times, this episode debuted on August 4, 2018.

I always thought it was a bit odd that Rainbow Dash was in this episode. Not that I’m complaining, but it seems kind of out there that she and Twilight are the only members of the Mane Six to feature in this one, but there’s really no need for Dash to be present. Ah well.

It looks like Twilight replicated the original Fire of Friendship spell for the top of the…um…Hearth’s Warming Tree. ๐Ÿ˜› Fire and trees generally don’t mix, but hey…they used to be candles before lights were invented.

People trying to do something shady always seem to find black cloaks in MLP:FIM. ๐Ÿ˜› Yeah, I know the real reason is because it’s hard to “hide” character identities if they don’t.

The purple glop itself and the difficult time everycreature has removing it might be a Easter Egg to the nature of the Smooze in the original “My Little Pony: the Movie”.

Twilight relied on the oldest trick in the teacher’s handbook (although, in all fairness, it rarely works): group punishment to turn the students against each other so they rat out the culprit. ๐Ÿ˜€

Somehow the Changelings are reproducing… Er, maybe “King” Pharnyx is hermaphroditic. Anyway, I’m glad the Changelings misinterpreted “dive into some holiday punch” as swimming in a vat of punch as opposed to hitting each other in the face. ๐Ÿ˜›

Nice continuity…Yona’s hair is still hanging low in her recollection of Snilldar Fest. Although she had braids before, she didn’t learn how to tie them up until the end of “School Daze”.

Smolder loving the winning story from last year’s “Feast of Fire”. Yeah…remember how much she loved this story when we get to “Father Knows Beast”… (Eye roll) At any rate, I take that as evidence of how much she’s changed. In light of, say, Season Nine’s “Sweet and Smoky”, I imagine Smolder probably doesn’t like this story as much now; especially since, at the end of the episode, she elected to stay with Gallus as well (er, with a touch of peer pressure).

Although the Storm King died at the end of “The My Little Pony Movie”, he would go on to make various appearances in one form or another in the series. His first was in this episode in a flashback. This would also serve as the first episode to retcon the movie to show that the Storm King did, in fact, have some power over storms even without alicorn magic. Queen Novo also (sorta) makes a cameo appearance in this episode.

It actually makes sense that the Three Days of Freedom was expanded from one day to three, as the second two days both involve being on Mount Aris rather than Seaquestria.

Rating:

3.5 Stars out of 5

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