Sunburst is excited to see that the Cutie Map is actually summoning him for a change, and to go on a friendship mission alongside Starlight Glimmer, but both of their enthusiasm turns to misery when they see that the map is directing them to their birthplace at Sire’s Hollow. Starlight’s father Firelight is overbearing while Sunburst’s mother Stellar Flare is controlling, and both of them have purposely avoided contact with Sire’s Hollow and their parents for years as a result. On arriving, they immediately begin to grind their teeth under their parents’ behavior but also notice they’re both at each other’s throats over city council planning. Thinking that’s the friendship problem, Sunburst and Starlight are able to get their parents to reconcile and compromise; but their Cutie Marks don’t glow signifying the job is finished. The two are forced to stay in town longer to try and find a friendship problem, but their respective parents’ attempts to “help” drive them progressively crazier until they lash out angrily at both of them. However, after driving them off, they both begin to realize that the friendship problem they were sent to fix is their relationships with their parents. On talking with them, they discover Firelight kept treating Starlight the way he did because of how broken up she was after Sunburst moved away in an attempt to give her stability, and Stellar Flare kept trying to dictate Sunburst’s life because she feared he had no direction after failing out of magic school and needed to get back on track. Starlight and Sunburst convince their parents that, as adults, these are now their own problems to resolve, and on doing so their Cutie Marks glow signifying a job done. On the way to the train station, Firelight and Stellar Flare suggest, rather than waiting for their kids to visit, they go visit them instead; prompting Sunburst and Starlight to furiously beckon the incoming train out of town to hurry up.
Well, this episode was ALSO very much…a thing. But, on the second viewing, it at least had a nice lesson albeit one that was, again, for the older crowd.
At this point, I find Starlight Glimmer fairly entertaining when paired with most members of the cast, because she acts as a pretty good “straight mare” who gives more mundane and less friendly responses to things. However, there wasn’t much opportunity for that in this episode as there was nothing overbearing or friendly in it; only opportunities for her to get embarrassed by Firelight. Sunburst, on the other hand, I don’t really find too terribly interesting at all and, based on past appearances, he’s usually been all of Twilight’s nerdiness without her empathy. That’s highlighted again in this episode when he barely even dignifies the mailpony with enough attention to take a letter from him. And since the two of them make up the bulk of this episode, that doesn’t make for much entertainment value.
None of the rest of the episode really hits for me either. The various trendy actions of the ponies in Sire’s Hollow, whether they be retro or cutting edge, aren’t terribly exciting or humorous (although the bits with the ancient bread kind of make me chuckle), and there’s been jokes about trendy ponies before this season so I didn’t think too much of this or Sire’s Hollow.
Firelight and Stellar Flare are a bit odd. Obviously, they’re written to be cringe-worthy, but I think it worked a little too well. Most of their actions end up being pure cringe to me rather than anything outrageous to the point of being humorous. Firelight particularly grates on my nerves because I abhor “baby-speak”. What this all adds up to is general feelings of “meh” or even displeasure for the bulk of this episode.
However, on rewatch, I do find one redeeming quality about it. It did end on a note that, as unbearable as Firelight and Stellar Flare were, they both genuinely wanted to help their respective children. However, they also had to learn that their children are now adults and their own people now, so the decisions they have to make are their own. And even if they end up being bad ones, it’s their responsibility now and they have to own up to them. And as parents, it’s their responsibility to learn when to step back and let them fly. As the episode actually pointed out, they’ll always be their parents, but they’re past the point in their lives where they are their guardians and caretakers. Now they’re in the phase where they can aspire to be their children’s friends.
Seeing the time of life when it’s time for a parent to “let go” is a fairly poignant lesson and, often, it’s very much overdone big, emotional, and dramatic in other animations. Treating it on a smaller scale with a bit less overbearing impact and a bit of humor? That’s not bad. It makes the episode end on a bit of a higher note.
In the end, it has the lesson going for it. I just wish the trip there had a bit more to write home about.
The title is a parody of the film: “The Parent Trap”.
The going theory is that Sire’s Hollow is a parody of Stars Hollow, a locale from “The Gilmore Girls”.
This episode, along with “Surf and/or Turf”, established that the Cutie Map pretty much just calls ponies whenever. 😛
Both Firelight and Stellar Flare have mild physical characteristics in common with their children. Firelight has the same tone gradation in his mane, while Stellar Flare is one of the few pony characters with “painting” on their coats, although all of hers are on her feet. Also, I don’t know if “Karens” were a thing yet when this episode came out, but Stellar Flare has a “Karen haircut”.
When there’s a zoom-in on the picture of the “founders”, you can just hear a donkey bray in the background.
Starlight Glimmer apparently had a “punk” phase growing up.
2.5 Stars out of 5