And once again, the emergence of Spring has awakened the hibernating miniature equines. Having slumbered through the cold Winter months, they emerge from their burrows hungry for cupcakes and tea. And what better way to start their active season than with a two-part adventure, full of fantastic dangers and audacious whimsy?
...Wait, this isn't a two-part episode? It's actually two standalone episodes?
Ladies and gentlemen, I don't understand the world anymore. Let's just look at “Celestial Advice” and get on with it.
Written By: Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco
First Aired: April 15, 2017
This episode in a nutshell: Discord is an asshole. Not just a garden-variety asshole, but an all-encompassing void of asshole behavior that decimates entire galaxies.
Outside of that, the main purpose of the episode is to address the fallout from last season's finale, which I never finished the review for. To sum up, Starlight Glimmer, Trixie, Thorax and Discord saved Equestria from Queen Chrysalis, redeeming the entire Changeling Hive save for the queen in the process. It was a rushed conclusion to what was, up to that point, a solid finale to a so-so season. And now we have the inevitable medal ceremony, coupled with Twilight and Spike pulling the “distract the target while we prepare their surprise present” trick parents and best friends have worked to perfect since the dawn of time.
Twilight's plan is to give Starlight a mirror, spruced up with pictures of her friends, so that she'll get an ego boost every morning. A bit corny, but it sounds a lot cheaper than Celestia's routine of turning every accomplishment into a stained-glass window. Unfortunately for Twilight, Discord still exists, so he proceeds to try to ruin her day by telling Twilight how Starlight is beyond basic friendship lessons now. Turns out the entire agenda for the next several years was those basic friendship lessons, so Twilight goes into her typical panic. And said panic leads to the obvious conclusion: like her mentor and many an eighteen-year-old before her, Starlight must be kicked out of the house.
This sets up the bulk of the episode: Twilight running possible missions by Spike and Princess Celestia. Since this is Twilight we're talking about, she proceeds to push everything to the absolute worst conclusion, and thus every scenario ends with Starlight exiled or dead. It isn't until Celestia steps in and explains that she went through the same feelings with Twilight, and thus kept her in Canterlot far longer than she should have, that Twilight settles for simply letting Starlight graduate. (Although she will presumably have to pay rent and will eventually have to get off her lazy butt and get a job.) And of course, Discord turns out to have been manipulating Twilight the whole time, and has the gall the end the proceedings on a pun so horrible I wish I could go back in time and prevent anyone involved with FiM from ever seeing an episode of Star Trek, thereby sparing us this monster.
...No, I do not like Discord. How did you guess?
The saddest thing is that this is probably the most Celestia episode we'll ever get. While the focus is on Starlight and Twilight, it's the biggest princess who provides the advice crucial to solving the dilemma. After so many episodes of her simply being a victim for the villain of that particular week, it's nice to see her in a more mentor role. It also gives a bit more insight into her character, showing that she was just as worried about Twilight as her student is worried about Starlight. Deep student/teacher relationships don't completely shed that aspect, even as the years pass, so seeing Twilight still turning to the pony she admires the most feels just right.
Where the episode falls flat for me, though, is the big difference in circumstances between the two. Twilight was a filly when she first went under Celestia's wing. The flashback even shows her kindergarten friends in class with her, including Moondancer before Twilight ruined her life. Celestia had years to form a close connection with her, and her fears of what might happen if she was sent into the wilderness fit those of a parent or guardian. Starlight, on the other hand, is a grown adult who had previously brainwashed a village and wrecked the space-time continuum multiple times over. Twilight has known her for two years at most, and she came into her tutelage as an adult. In other words, Twilight could be fretting about a friend going away...but the episode tries to spin it as being on the same level as Celestia's worries, which just doesn't fit.
On the comedy side, there were a few laughs. Luna trying to get the medal onto Thorax was cute, as was pretty much every interaction between Starlight and Trixie. Unfortunately, Discord's humor fell flat because he's an asshole and I hate him. Episode ruined.
My hatred of Discord aside, this was an okay episode. It didn't fully satisfy my itch for Celestia-centric stories, but it did feel like her character was built a bit more by the end, and it's nice to have interactions between her and Twilight that don't end with a near-apocalypse. An okay start to the season, all things considered.