• "School Daze" Parts I & II: Episode Followup - Twilight's School for Gifted Youngsters

    The wait has finally ended and we got our much-needed dose of pony as Season 8 is finally here! We had a fun season premiere full of new friends and creatures and lots of movie tie-ins!

    Please join me below as I kick off the first Episode Followup for the year with teacher stress, government bureaucracy, unruly teens, and more...

    Borg's Moral Lesson Time:

    First, teaching isn't easy. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. If you're not worried about meeting strict standards then you're worried about screwing up an impressionable mind for good.

    Second, if you don't like government regulations, say screw it and reclassify yourself. Works great for taxes too.

    And third, and this is a touchy subject, don't be racist. Reinterepted for us in pony land as "speciesism", this episode deals with bringing in foreign outside peoples and cultures that not only look different but act different and them being judged for it. It shows how racism can start from one group or side but be returned in kind out of defense and indignation.

    Honestly, any blog pony here could write a full 10,000 word editorial on the subject so I won't get into anymore so let me just say this: Don't judge a book by its cover, even if its a changeling, hippogriff, yak, dragon, or griffon, as the stories they can tell can be just as good as any ponies'.

    Let's get started...

    Right away the ponies are quick to inform us that we are picking up right after the events of My Little Pony: The Movie. To their surprise, the map has grown and enacted some auto-cartography to fill in the places where the ponies visited in their big screen adventures.

    How big did it grow? Let's compare...

    It's a bit hard to grasp the scale shift but not only did the map physically grow but it scaled down as well. With Canterlot being almost the center of the old map indicated by the mountain and the rainbow, on the new map the Equestrian capital has shifted to almost the edge of the map to accommodate the newly mapped regions. Overall, it looks like the old map's region fits within the viewer's right hemisphere on the new map.

    Such a large world make's you wonder how Twilight's friends made it back in time to Canterlot to save her when the pirate's ship had been destroyed.

    Let's check out the map rendered landmarks from the movie...

    We have the haven of scum and villainy where pony trafficking can happen, the "That crazy unicorn sunk it" pirate Swashbuckling treasure hunter airship, and Mount Aris.

    Seriously, if they just got back, how do those birds have their ship up and running already?

    All the Seaponies Pinkie? I think the song lyrics were "necklaces for every fish" so were you derogatorily calling all the Seaponies fish?

    Also, it doesn't need it own picture but I like the smooth way they got rid of Tempest for the season by having her spread the news of the Storm Kings defeat and capitalize on the power vacuum.

    Pinkie took note of the table's growth.

    The Mane...um 6? Plus Starlight...Plus Spike? The Mane 6.2 take this opportunity to mention how tired they are of adventure in faraway places but given the rumors, we have of Season 8 we know that's not likely to last. Regardless, Twilight has the perfect thing to keep them firmly rooted in Ponyville for the next semester...

    But first, taste the Rainbow.

    So I don't know if it's a budget thing but I was kinda disappointed that there isn't a new intro this season. When I expect to see a bit more of the Student 6, that we'll see here in a second, than say Mrs. Cake and Snips, than I reckon we should have the intro shift with the times.

    Update: Oh apparantly if there is a new opener, hint hint wink wink, it would not have been used these episodes in order to avoid spoilers. 

    Anyway, not important! Moving on...

    Okay so take note here. Have no doubt, this is Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. A whimsical building not too outlandish for Canterlot's architecture. Just keep it in mind.

    Let's go inside...

    Magic Kindergarten most likely. Twilight here is getting the inside scoop for running a school from the best teacher of all, in this world or any other, Princess Celestia.

    Also, looks like they haven't initiated a 1:1 foal to tech ratio. They need to buy more Apples...

    That's right Celestia, this anti-adventure story is brought to us by the same pair of ponies humans who wrote "Shadow Play", Season 7's finale. It's such a fascinating step in a different direction.

    Let's learn ABOUT Equestrian schools...

    The E.E.A seems to oversee all of Equestria's schools. That's the Equestria Education Association; a board of "learned ponies".

    I like Celestia's quote of "Not even a princess can do whatever she wants when it comes to shaping young ponies' minds." That'll be important later.

    Also, when do we get to see mud pony school?

    Harry Potter appearing before the Ministry of Magic circa 1995.

    Look all the learned ponies. We've seen a number of them before of course as background ponies in other episodes most notably Mr.Waddle with the glasses and our high cheek-boned friend just below Neighsay.

    Speaking of Chancellor Neighsay, yes that is Maurice LaMarche, the famed voice of Brain from Pinkie and The Brain and Kif from Futurama. The Pinkie Pie/Neighsay jokes are already on there on the interwebs.

    I wonder if an antagonist could be any more blatant than this guy? I love that he brought up her leaving the school to go on adventures.

    Also, he wants ponies to defend their way of life. Powerful words to often justify powerful misdeeds.

    What does Twilight think about your rules for running a school?

    Oh sweet Celestia, she freaking loves them...

    Also, Spike is best mobile bookshelf.

    Anyway, with probationary accreditation granted, time to build a school...

    Welcome to Princess Twilight Sparkle's School of Playset Friendship. Where did she get the funding for this nonsense? And how long did it take to build? Remember Celestia's school from above? Waaaaay more reserved. Lot's of Twilight branding here to ensure you have no doubt as to who's school your walking in. Rainbow Dash's voice over is right: "It's too much!"

    Find it soon for $99.97 at Toys'r'Us Amazon

    It's pretty interesting that Twilight brings her friends in to teach. Yes, they are kinda the experts on the subject but being able to make friendship verses having the skills to teach are two different things. Besides, doesn't the saying go that those who can, do, and those who can't, teach?

    Also, I loved GlimGlim's quip about not needing to worry until Twilight starts to worry.

    Twilight's just mad at Pinkie and her canons from the cake incident in Canterlot.

    Let's start this schooling...

    Heh. Head Mare. I bet this is a fillyhood fantasy come true. Let's introduce the Student 6, a group of diverse characters we're sure to see more of this season. If you're really into seeing the unvoiced background ponies for this episode just go back and look at that class picture.

    But first, let's get the students inside...

    Teenagers! The horror! Actually, in a later shot, we see some blank flanks but they may be there as family to support their older siblings. It's a tad hard to tell if there are other grade levels so to say or other teachers in this school of Twilight's.

    Time for Season 8's recurring ponies characters...

    Not having a guardian to introduce him, we meet our first Student 6 by way of running into the second. This turtley pony is Sandbar a super chill mud sand earth pony with an algae problem. He's running into Gallus, a less cute Gabby that questions, Dashie's coolness.

    I'd like to point out the way the music changes for each of out non-pony guardians. I really like Grandpa Gruff's music. Anyway, he's here to introduce his (I think) grandson, Gallus. Gallus, by the way, is the Latin word for rooster, and as such used throughout history to name all sorts of stuff. Perfect name for a cocky griffon.


    Here's Yona, presented by Prince Rutherford, a young clumsy yak. Yona, per Google, refers to a Japanese noodle bar...

    Now, we have Dragon Lord Ember, dragging along a younger dragoness by the name of Smolder. Relation unknown. I imagine after this school year "The Smolder" will be less like the smolder of Tangled fame and more a violent act involving fire and singed fur.

    Anyway, who's that other dragoness?

    That dragon's a spy! Here is little Ocellus. Likely changelings still raise their young as a hive collective so Thorax here is mostly here due to the political nature of this move. Ocellus is pretty shy as demonstrated by her desire to transform to blend in as both a dragon and a pony. I think she's cuter as a dragon but I'm biased.

    Not obvious but Ocellus is the term used for invertebrates' "simple eye". It's kind of a catch-all term for any light sensing organ that's not like an insect's compound eye, and can vary greatly in terms of functionality. Interestingly, all of a spider's eyes are simple eyes, and many flying insects, such as bees, have obvious ocelli in addition to their normal eyes, often in triplicate.

    Also, does Ocellus Wallice look like a bug? No? Then why'd you try to treat her like a bug?

    Finally, we have Silverstream the hyper hippogriff/seapony, revealed to us at HasCon last year, niece of Queen Novo, and introduced by what I'm fairly sure is her father, General Seaspray. I'll explain why I think that in a bit. Silverstream is of course named for the classic line of aluminum-bodied camper trailers by Airstream. Don't question me.

    Notice both griffon's wearing the same necklace? I don't think that's for representing the familial connection. We'll get to that later.

    Now that we have our Student 6 introduced, let's have a song montage!

    Let's break it down...

    I like Dashie's pencil holder. Starting out we can see the Mane6 are actually pretty bored when it comes to your standard chalkboard learning. I would too if I had to put chalk in my mouth. Someone invent dry erase for these pones.

    Also, the Mane 6 aren't exactly born teachers. They don't have Cheerilee's cutie mark. Though I suppose for a secondary school you want specialized professors and not just generic teachers. I could go on for hours breaking down the education system of Equestria but I'll spare you....for now.

    Anyway, given an arbitrary passage of time (thanks, montage) our retired Equestrian heroes find a "groove" of their own...

    Pinkie, Twi said no cannons...

    Now I suppose rules don't exist regarding the segregation of non-pony species in school given Neighsay's reactions later, but I suppose it's "show convenient" they are all in the same class.

    Really the crime here is the small class size. Like what school only has a class size of six? I don't see how the Mane 6 can complain. The US has class sizes of 30 or more in some places. Equestria must be full of smiles, songs, friendship, and very powerful workforce unions.

    Anyway, what does Twilight think of these innovated teaching methods?

    Twilight's about to slap a mare with a 12-inch thick rulebook. I'll have to say though, despite how much fun everycreature is having, Dashie's trustfall setup looks kinda dangerous. Seriously Occelus is about to be squished...like a bug. I'm not sorry for that joke. Also, not sure how effective catching a half size yak of pure muscle with only 7 claws and hoofs.

    Anyway as Twilight's intense and steamy romance with a giant rule book flourishes, her school moral plummets for both students and professors...

    Does Pinkie have a class on how to use one's hair to write and stir cake batter?

    Anyway, let's skip to the end of the song...

    If the school just opened, what are these trophies from? Did Rainbow Dash decorate from her own collection?

    I love Sea Breeze's Turtle Beach's Algae Lagoon's Sandbar's line of "No need to harsh Yona's love for her heritage."  More memorable than his name apparently.

    Regardless, these kids are so frustrated with Twilight's lame Penny Royal academy that they start to take it out on each other...

    In Equestria, you can use ropes and magic for student discipline. We need more corporal punishments in schools these days, right? What's really scary is that Starlight is in charge of detention. Small room, loudspeakers, lots of copies of the same book...

    Time for a faculty meeting...

    Heh, Dashie is an egg head. Somewhere some animator got teased when assigned to draw that Dashie as it was "within their skill set". DHX seems like a more fun place to work at than Twilight's Friendship School.

    I love Spike's line of "Who are you and what have you done with Twilight Sparkle?"

    Umbridge Twilight just doesn't get it.

    Fed up with the establishment the Student 6 take advantage of the lack of hall monitors and CCTV system to skip class the day of the Friends and Family event for a "mental health break". When I went to school that and "chasing skunks out from behind the greenhouses" were code names for the sort of illicit activities not yet approved for even medical purposes.

    I hope they don't get caught.

    I don't know what language you watched this episode in but for me, I just got to hear Tabitha St. Germain play a character imitating another character voiced by Tabitha St. Germain. I love it.

    Ocellus as a character is a complete gem. Like a multifaceted gem...unlike the non-multifaceted simple eye for which she is named.


    Dr. Strange Chancelor Neighsay is back and creepy as ever. As a note, his magic is orange and does not match his eye color, therefore it is highly likely that his cutie mark has a predominant shade of orange in keeping with what we know of pony cutie mark magic. Let me know in the comments below what you think his cutie mark is.

    Meanwhile at Lake Placid...

    Do flying creatures of different species naturally know how to fly in a formation without clipping wingtips or did they have to spend weeks working it out? I know what they say about birds of a feather but two of these kids don't even have feathers on their wings. I but there were some interesting cultural flying issues that needed to be addressed that we, as grounded creatures, can't quite comprehend.

    Let me know in the comments if you want me to do a whole editorial on the subject.

    Time for Friends and Family day celebrations...

    Ocellus has seen some stuff apparently. Changeling primary school must really be an intense lesson in survival.

    Let the chaos ensue...

    Gallus has the slowest reactions and just tosses Sandbar like a meat shield long after he gets startled. He doesn't quite get a strike though since grandpa Gruff is still standing.

    Here to help with the chaos is none other than Derpy!

    Boom! Headshot!

    What is going on with Ocellus?

    Okay, so this part is a little weird. I had to go frame by frame to figure it out because it looks like something gut punches her into the school. I think Ocellus couldn't control her form since she was flailing to break and when the pegasus cut in front of her, she made a last-ditch effort to change directions resulting in her slamming into the school. Interestingly as it was pegasi that interrupted all three flight groups, my theory above about different flying species having different flying cultures and techniques holds more water. The pegasi can easily panic and fly away without hitting each other but the non-ponies couldn't instinctually react to the flight patterns of ponies since they themselves as different species fly differently and have different flight patterns.

    Either that or Starlight zapped Ocellus off her course but they cut it from the show because it was too much violence towards a child.

    Anyway, somepony is super pissed...

    Speciest pony is speciest. I know ponies raise the sun and moon but that's no reason to think you're the master race. One night when he's in bed Luna is going to visit his dreams and let him experience the nightmare of the international incident he's about to cause and what it feels like to be hated based on his pony-ness.

    He probably hates bat ponies too. Worst villain ever.

    I wonder if anyone was offended?

    "Your kind?" Look I got to tell you insulting a dragon is just not good for your health. I would know, I'm married to one.

    Could this get any worse?

    That's some powerful artifact magic. It's nice to see ponies put more magical study and strength into school administration than their military. No wonder they needed the Elements of Harmony to protect Equestria. By the way, schools get shut down all the time in the real world. Google some stories.

    I hope no one ran inside to get away from the giant bug...

    Twilight took lessons from Rarity on how to feel sorry for herself it seems. I've taken a "failure vacation" a time or two myself.

    Also, I love this face. Have another good face Twilight?

    Yeah, you do.

    Maybe your friends can cheer you up.

    Actually Rarity, your dress makes her look like a jester, you know, a joke. You'd think her friends would have a better idea on how to cheer up. Also, Pinkie is correct about pity parties needing ice cream instead of cupcakes. Just ask Rarity.

    So this shot fully establishes where the school is located. I will say though I guess she's counting on the sheer size of her castle to keep it from being TP'ed by the students. Also, her commute to work each morning must be killer.

    Maybe Starlight can knock her out of her funk...

    Well, she can at least knock her rulebook into the water. Down with the rules! Leave it to Starlight to tell Twilight to screw the rules and regulations and do her own thing. Didn't Celestia tell Twilight that a princess couldn't do whatever she wanted? I imagine Twilight at this point runs off to look for a loophole in the Equestrian law.

    Anyway, the talk works and PurpleSmart is ready to educate once again. Time to get her teachers back...

    I like how earlier Dash was playing with a little cloud. Also, party cannons for everycreature! Let me know in the comments which cannon was your favorite. I'm partial to Starlight's myself.

    Now that she has her teachers, it's time to round up her students.

    Look it's Thorax's brother, Pharynx...

    Looks like the hippogriffs are successfully moving back to their mountain home to resume their natural look. So I want to say these two are the parents of Silverstream even though they both look like males, with the new HG here likely being the brother to either Queen Novo or her mate in order for Silverstream to claim to be a niece to Novo. Unless we've got a niece/nephew situation like however Blueblood's is established.

    Anyway, also notice this hippogriff is wearing the exact same necklace. I'll bring that up again here in a bit.

    As the Mane 6 quickly find out, the students have run away...

    So first I wanted to point out that regardless of the Canterlot establishing shot for this scene, this is the new throne room as depicted in the movie. It's absolutely fantastic. 

    I'm sure they'll be very understanding when it comes to missing children...

    Or not. It feels natural to the story that they would blame each other for kidnapping and not a concerted effort of children to run away. Adults always think kids can't plan. Ember even turns on Thorax. I wonder if Thorax is just too chill as a leader or if their method of raising young is just so different. I imagine children run off and hide all the time in changeling society since their so well suited at it. Ocellus could just turn into a rock and not come home for days.

    Let's see how Twilight & Co. will handle this...

    Sandbar has the munchies. Must have been chasing skunks. He's got some great faces in this scene by the way.

    This, by the way, brings something that's been bothering me this whole episode. Don't these ponies have other jobs and responsibilities? How has Sugarcube Corner been dealing without Pinkie for a school semester? How is Applejack's farm, Fluttershy's sanctuary, Rarity's three shops, and Rainbow Dash's Wonderbolt career? If ever there was a plot hole this was it but I'm sure it can be easily explained away.

    Anyway, let's follow Soapbar...

    I thought Rarity did a better job at restoring those tapestries during "Castle Mane-ia"? Anyway, I'm reminded of the depth of this show and how even a location like this is revisited and used for a completely different story.

    As sandbar gets back and Ocellus changes into a bugbear, the whole story gets sidetracked for one more final piece of world building. Silverstream found stairs...

    So here's a piece of world-building that was awkwardly thrown in because, either Silverstream has some intense memory problems or she is so nearsighted she hasn't seen any of the stairs in Twilight's school. I can understand swimming and flying everywhere but the Friendship School is like 4 stories tall. She had to have seen stairs. Anyway, you know those necklaces I kept pointing out? Yeah, they let hippogriffs change into seaponies and back. The idea for the necklace was likely due to Pinkie's antics under the sea. Additionally, it appears Queen Novo uses a magical necklace to shapeshift in Friendship is Magic #61 during the Convocation of the Creatures. Thanks to The Illustrious Q for verifying that for me. With this thrown in so oddly, it will very important in later episodes...or someone really wanted to animate ponyfish for this episode.

    Anyway, back on to the story. At least the castle isn't deep in the Everfree Forest and surrounded by hostile creatures...

    Oh, wait it is...

    This is the Pukwudgie based on the creature of the same name in Native American folklore, specifically of the Wampanoag. Described as short creatures who live in the woods, besides using magic were said to have used poison arrows.

    Loved this joke...

    Also, I bet Smolder is completely immune to harm in this instance because lava baths and Spike was a pin cushion that one time for Rarity.

    Anyway, here comes the Mane 6 to save the day!

    Oooo they touched horns like Cadence and Shining Armor during the changeling attack they must be in loooovvveeee. Yeah no. Don't write your fanfiction about it. They were just combining magic for efficiency. Didn't want to blow away the teens with an unfiltered shield. Everyone knows Starlight ships with Trixie. I bet we get a GlimmyTrix episode this season.

    With the safe return of the Student 6 it's time to do what Twilight does best...

    Firin' her lazers!!!!

    "You shall not make a Lord of the Rings Reference!"

    Twilight loves her technicalities. After giving up hope for EEA accreditation, she decides to make her own type of school with its own rules. A simple fix that better have an Equestrian law loophole to back it up behind the scenes.

    Also, I love how Twilight whips out her much bigger rulebook. Don't get into a measuring contest with Twilight. Even her horn is bigger.

    After Speciest McSpeciest-face is thoroughly told off for being speciest, he flees in a I-will-be back sort of manner.

    Time for a song montage...

    Sweet Celestia why wasn't this done earlier...

    Equestria has some different rules regarding alcohol it seems. I went to the wrong school...

    Gallus in two places at once...

    I don't want to bombard you with a screenshot of each one but the Mane 6's new classrooms are amazing.

    Rainbow's gym is one of my favorites.

    Update: By popular demand please have the other classrooms.

    Applejack's barn workshop class with an apple tree.

    Rarity has her studio modelled like how she set up her room earlier.

    Twilight of course has a lecture hall library.

    Fluttershy has a cozy little room connected to the outdoors.

    Starlight gets a teaching role too and uses one of the old classrooms.

    Pinkie has...I'm not really sure what as far as classrooms go. Just lots of open space for plenty of activities.

    I love how the show calls itself out on the singing as if what we just saw was really just what is supposed to happen.

    Looks like all the adults are willing to let their students come back...except one...

    Gah! The cute! This is how griffon babies don't get eaten. But his roll was succesfull and grandpa Gruff lets him stay.

    Anyway that's it everypony!

    Your voice actors part one...

    And part two.

    I hope you enjoyed this season premiere and while I know it wasn't as intense as some of the more epic adventures we go on, nor the villain we were expecting after seeing clips at HasCon, I still think this was a fantastic bit of world building and seeing the elements from the movie being tied in was fantastic.

    It has been my honor and privilege to bring to you the first follow up for Season 8! We have a few more blog ponies this season so I hope you'll look forward to some new styles and I'll look forward to not doing this most weekends lol.

    Let me know what you thought of the episodes below and what you thought of the followup!

    Or, don't read this followup at all and copy/paste your pre-written reviews below.