• "Marks for Effort": Episode Followup


    I'm not sorry.

    Another week, another horse episode, another instance of Glim-Glam stealing the entire show with just one scene. I don't make the memes, folks, I just proliferate them.

    Anyway, let's get rolling.

    Honestly, after eight seasons you'd think they'd be more practiced at this. Or at the very least, Apple Bloom would have more core strength.

    I feel like people are sleeping on the fact that Pinkie actually made a functional lesson plan centered around eating cupcakes. "Crazy like a fox" is a phrase that would rarely go amiss applied to Ponka Pone.

    god she's so precious though I just want to sweep her up in my arms and call her "Snugglebug" forever

    Friendly notification that Sweetie Belle's panic response is to outright grapple-throw Scoots into the bushes. Guess that explains why Rarity's pay-per-view bill is so high each month.

    "Okay, but seriously, AB, we really need to talk about this 'buckball' thing your sister keeps--"
    "It is too a real sport!"
    "No it isn't. It's just... it's just not."

    Jokes aside, though... you've tried, Scootaloo? There's a story there. Probably one involving a trip to the nurse's office and a "#1 Teacher" mug overflowing with Irish coffee.

    Homecolt in the back right of the room there confirms it for me: "friendship school" is totally code for "liberal arts university." Look me in the eye and tell me I'm wrong.

    I'm gonna focus on our first canon shot of Chancellor Puddinghead in a second, but first, color me unexpectedly pleased that Spike didn't get dumped from participating in this episode since he just got his wings last week. I don't know, I guess a cynical part of me wondered whether they'd keep him off-screen until later in the season to avoid establishing too much of a clear narrative order, so good on the crew for just rocking with it immediately.

    All right, now back to the important stuff. Look at that handsome... androgynous... pony? Yeah, in retrospect, Pinkie Pie was a bold casting choice for that particular role in Ye Olde Hearthswarming Tale.

    "Don't worry, Twilight, we'll fit right in! We can pretend we did the readings, BS papers the night before they're due, and create lifelong memories out of bad decisions just as well as any other student here!"

    Poor Glim-Glam, though. She went from saving the world a season and a half ago to guidance counselors at a school arguably meant specifically to train guidance counselors. Might as well put a sign on her door that reads, "Department of Redundancy Department".

    "There's a time and place for everything, children. It's called friendship school."

    It's a harsh lesson to learn, girls: once the cutie mark comes in, the little-kid-pleading-face just doesn't work as well anymore.

    Okay, timeout, Twilight. "Permanent records" aren't a thing. I know you would think they were, but, um... oh. Yeah. No, it's okay if you need a minute, Twi. I can wait.

    "Language was invented for one reason, class--to make friends--and in that endeavor, laziness will not do."

    I might be reaching a little bit, but I think it's cool how each CMC's individual interpretation of "bad friendship" is informed by the traits of their sisters/role models. Apple Bloom is dishonest about her clothes, Sweetie Belle's begging is about as ungenerous as she could get, and Scootaloo ends up cutting off Rainbow Dash in the middle of her story--which is kind of disloyal, I guess, if you think about it.

    Okay, fine. Reaching a lot.

    "Can I at least go to a friendship seminar? Friendship night classes? Online community friendship college?"

    "If you've heard this story before, don't stop her, because I'd like to hear it again."

    Okay, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo I can believe being bad actors, but Sweetie Belle's a dyed-in-the-wool theater geek. If you only have two lines, you really gotta sell 'em, Swoot.

    Or at the very least, not take the phrase "break a leg" literally.

    "Why does she have a flag with our faces on it?"
    "... where was she keeping it?"

    Even on a second viewing, I still lose it when Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle shamelessly decide they should try crying next based on how much Rarity does it. Even being an up-and-coming national fashion icon doesn't stop you from getting called the heck out by your little sister.

    "Also, what the hay, guys, it was one time. Don't do me like that."

    And now we get to Cozy Glow, our sugary, syrupy, and (admittedly) somewhat suspicious secondary character for the episode. With the benefit of hindsight, we know that she's just earnestly bad at friendship, but I also can't blame folks for thinking that something about her's just a little bit... off. Maybe it's the put-upon affectation in her voice, maybe it's the fact that she chose a spot ten feet from the CMC clubhouse to bawl her eyes out, maybe it's the straight-up Darla Dimple hairstyle--whatever the reason, I was right there with all the more paranoid watchers for a good bit.

    Got my eye on you, tiny horse.

    I mean, I got my eye on you three tiny horses too, but that's just because y'all cute. Don't mean nothing by it.

    Okay, but seriously, though: I have a very spoiler-y conspiracy theory about Cozy Glow that has to do with the midseason finale. If you're up to date on your teaser trailers, you probably know what I'm thinking. If you aren't, rest assured I'm almost definitely wrong.

    Two words for you, Cozy: gift cards. Can't go wrong with $10 at Starbucks.

    "I guess the rumors are true... Bon-Bon really does hate pricks." - a soon-to-be-fired followup writer

    "Remember, Cozy: when giving a gift, it's the thought that counts."
    "So... does that mean Mrs. Cake will like this one?"
    "Nope! It means if she doesn't, she's not allowed to tell you! It's great!"

    Mental note, Sweetie Belle: add "passive-aggressive thank-yous" to friendship tutoring curriculum.

    Okay, I'm definitely reaching a lot less this time, but it's cool that not all these initial friendship lessons go exactly how Cozy Glow seemed to think they would. I can imagine her reaction being a lot more despondent to Mrs. Cake and Big Mac's responses if she didn't have a buddy to tell her, "Nah, it's cool, that's normal." Just goes to show that friendship actually can be complicated in a lot of ways.

    "I bet they don't have to learn about that kind of stuff at Twilight's school." - a young filly blissfully unaware of what "general education requirements" entail

    Seriously, though, you are sketchy as heck, Cozy Glow. No cartoon character has ever innocently made this face. Something is real damn weird about all of this.

    Don't give me that face either, young lady. You still got a lotta 'splainin' to do.

    "Okay, so maybe teaching teamwork through ketchup-making wasn't the best idea, but--"
    "Oh Celestia, why'd you have to make it gro... wait, okay, never mind. Really thought you were going somewhere else with us being covered in red stuff."

    "... Bruh."

    "No, of course Twilight's Element isn't 'Control''! And even if it was, we certainly wouldn't say that about an unelected monarch who fights monster on the reg! Out loud! Where she might be able to hear us!"

    I mean, for real, guys, I'm shook right now. Who would look at this screencap and not think, "Oh, she's gotta be the antagonist." No one. Everyone would think that. This is nuts.

    Gotta say, Twilight's really harsh on the CMC here. On the other hand, I can kind of see where she's coming from. Assuming Cozy Glow isn't some kind of demon-spawn in frilly pink clothing (y'know, ASSUMING), all Twilight knows about the situation is that the CMC want into her school, they tried to fake being bad at friendship earlier, and they're much better at friendship than Cozy Glow's test results would indicate. So unless you assume that, I dunno, Cozy Glow's secretly trying to take down the School from the inside to further some greater evil's master plan and got sidetracked by the CMC being nice to her, Twilight's interpretation unfortunately makes sense.

    "There's just no other possibility that every instance of subtext in the episode suggested, girls. Now get out of my office. Someone named "Silasyrhc" signed up for a private lesson and requested that no one else be around during it."

    "'Your mom'? But that joke hasn't been funny for years... this doesn't make any sense!"

    And now to the highlight of the episode/season: Glim-Glam the guidance counselor. I could go on for literal hours about how amazing this whole scene is and how perfectly it encapsulates Glammer's character as a whole, but I'll pare it down into a single thought for now: sure, she's prone to be sarcastic and get lost in her own thoughts overeager mind sometimes, but the essence of Starlight's character since her reformation has always been that she tries really, really hard to be helpful and has learned how to turn her previous failures at doing that into the kind of lessons that no one else in the Mane 6 could provide. In other words, she's honestly the perfect choice to be a guidance counselor, if only as someone who could look at a kid who messed up and say genuinely, "It's okay, man, I've been there too."

    Glim's office has all the essentials: kites on the ceiling, a geode from Maud on her desk, Trixie stickers on the filing cabinet--and most importantly, a fully stocked liquor cabinet.

    Okay, one more thought: Starlight struggling to maintain her "therapist voice" is the precious-est of things and I am so very much about it.

    God bless you, New Twilight, and every memeface you, in your irreverent glory, bestow upon us.

    Weekly Diamond Tiara Watch Status:
    [   ] showed up
    [   ] had a speaking line
    [ X ] man come on, it's been nearly three seasons, I'm dying over here

    At least they were nice enough to put my OC in a quick scene with Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo here. Cheers for that, I suppose.

    "We definitely should've cleaned up more after the ketchup incident."
    "That would possibly explain why Starlight brought so many police officers with her."

    Scootaloo confirmed for "Most Likely to Get Stitches."

    Well, like I Sweetie Belle said earlier, it is the thought that counts, and Twilight's gesture here was definitely a nice thought. Maybe it's best if we pretend the CMC weren't just trying to get out of math class this whole time and just move on from this whole ordeal.

    "Now, as for the matter of your student loan debt..."

    One more vanity shot of Glim-Glam because she is an inspiration and I would die for her.

    And one as well of these innocent little girls making it to the end of the episode without anypony ever finding all the bodies they had to bury under the barn after the ketchup-making incident in Act 2.

    That'll do it for me, folks. Go with Glim, be excellent to each other, and no matter what you do, do not trust Cozy Glow. Mark my words, she'll be our end someday.

    ~ Aqua