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Dramamaster829


Critic, Actor, Writer, Motivational Speaker, Occasional Singer

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Jun
10th
2019

Student Counsel/A Friendship is Magic Season 9 Review · 6:32pm Jun 10th, 2019


If you can picture my face, this is how I’d look before starting work in the office.

GOOD AFTERNOON, FIMFICTION FANATICS!!! This is the Dramamaster829; Critic, Actor, Writer, Motivational Speaker, and Occasional Singer, keeping you up to date with the latest news for the final season of MLP! If there’s some issues that are needed to know about myself, aside from having a bit of a temper, there are times when it seems I’m more focused on my work than I do with socializing. Some can blame it on a set of failed relationships that happened years ago, some can say that any friends I did have either moved far away or too busy with their own lives, I find myself more at home in a ‘workplace’ environment and when I do get home I’m so tired after a long day I don’t feel like going anywhere (Except the occasional ‘Karaoke’ nights once a week). As I prepare today’s blog for my faithful readers watching from home (Or work), last weekend’s episode helped relate to my plight with a pony who’s only now getting her spotlight this season.

When it comes to ponies like Starlight Glimmer, ever since she was made the ‘Counselor’ at the ‘School of Friendship’ many fans wondered if she really contributes to anything or if this was a subtle way of casting her aside while the ‘mane’ protagonists do the big adventures. Even though fans still see her as the pony who should’ve ‘remained’ a villain, that she’s a ‘Twilight Sparkle’ clone, or how she uses her magic to solve all her problems, we can’t deny that when she truly wants to help if it means amending for what she did in the past she’s not taking this second chance for granted. At the same time, some think that she tries too hard or completely overlooks the point, but it only goes to further prove that even Starlight Glimmer, whose power can rival that of an alicorn, is still a flawed protagonist and we ‘need’ those characters in order to be blessed with an opportunity for growth and development. As of last weekend, we see just how the toll of being a counselor nearly takes up most of her life, how a small bit of neglect leads to a catastrophe, and a heartfelt lesson that all of us can learn as we draw close to the mid-season hiatus with only two episodes remaining in the first half. Today, we prepare to take an examination with an episode appropriately entitled:

Student Counsel

Warning: The following review contains spoilers. If you haven’t seen the episode, please skip now.

The Story


If you stay quiet and listen closely, you can hear the StarTrix shippers screaming in glee.

On a beautiful day, our favorite pair of best friends get together for a lovely picnic… No, it’s NOT a Date! Anyways, it’s always nice to see a pair of former antagonists getting together especially when Trixie goes all the way to prepare all this food and drinks for them. We’d certainly never see her doing things like this during the early seasons that’s for sure. Anyways, a few seconds in, you might notice some slight detailing difference in Starlight for this episode.


So ‘Beepers’ are still a thing, apparently?

Once again Starlight Glimmer uses magic to make things easier for her. In which case, she enchanted this little bracelet so that whenever someone knocks on her door it gives off a signal so she can be there to tend to the needs of the students. Right off the bat… This is where the heart of the problem lies. We all know that Starlight Glimmer wants to help her students whenever she’s needed, but you’d think if she had made plans with her friends (Like Trixie) she’d have put an ‘Out of Office’ sign or maybe set some business hours. I mean it’s good that Starlight is being active with her job, we must ask: At what cost?


I may get annoyed with Trixie sometimes, but I feel her pain.

Now in Trixie’s case, it sounds like she’s being a little self-centered with Starlight spending more time at work than focusing her attention on her best friend. But to be fair: We have to imagine that Trixie must’ve went through a lot of trouble to get this picnic together and she feels her best friend is missing out. If we thought Christopher Robin was bad when he was putting his energy on work instead of with his family, the fact Starlight keeps jumping back between work-and-quality time it’s no wonder she goes from annoyed to just about having enough.


If you’ve been on a date and they give you this face, you know you’re in trouble.

It soon becomes apparent that the school is reaching a holiday, most of the faculty and staff (The Mane Six and Spike) have gone home, and the students have very little time before they have to leave to visit family. In a way, this episode once again allows the background characters to end up having the starring role which a few fans have made a big deal about (Mostly the negative ones). And since ‘apparently’ there’s this huge demand for counseling, it’s no wonder Starlight is feeling overburdened with such a huge pile of the student body outside her door.


There’s always that one fan at a panel with a buttload of questions.


Nearly every celebrity at a convention who just want to go home.

We’ll get around to Silver Steam, who in a way ties things together in the end, but you’d think with all her questions on addressing concerns to her people of the benefits toward the surface Starlight must be wondering why she’s wasting her time trying to sort things (Like addressing showers to creatures who ‘live’ in the water). Of course, leave it to Trixie to barge in and end the sessions to confront her bestie.


That one guy who’s one person short before the panels end; poor dude.

Turns out there’s this party Maud Pie and her boyfriend, Mudbriar, are putting together (Yes, this is a thing) and they made a promise that they’d help prepare for the spring solstice. But, with Starlight being so preoccupied with all the students wishing to see her, it’s no surprise she’d forget about it.







Notice my lack of words; these pictures speak for me.

Now this episode takes a glimpse between two sides of the issue: The importance of one’s job and the plans friends make for each other. Plans that involve going into town to pick up a few things for the party, including learning a special cake recipe from Mrs. Cake which they planned to do together. They ‘could’ have just ‘bought’ a cake from the store, like anyone going to a Publix or Costco (Especially for those decadent chocolate cakes in the bakery), but Trixie’s not having any of that. You can imagine the pain Trixie went through to convince (beg) this pony to share the recipe, to ‘make’ something the girls can do together and she’s not about to ruin this experience with ‘buying’ cake.


When I say we’re ‘baking’, I… Mean… BAKING!

All jokes about flowering sticks and antiques aside, in a way I can relate with Trixie wanting to keep a promise. I once had an experience asking a friend to see this Disney remake with me, which I only agreed to move a week from what I had planned just so we’d spend some time together. Turns out, she wanted to bring her friends along, then asked to move the venue somewhere else, and as if that wasn’t enough, she decides to do something else with said friends. Now I could’ve joined, I would’ve… But when the Dramamaster says he’s doing something on a particular day, I ALWAYS keep my word (Even if it meant going to the movies… Alone). It’s no longer their friendship seems very strained like a couple who can’t seem to communicate well.


Least this wasn’t as bad as their failed trip to Saddle Arabia.

Since it’s obvious Starlight wants to get these errands done efficiently to save time, yet refusing to shirk her duties with helping the other students, you’d think the two splitting the party-planning duties would be the best approach? But if we were looking for some pony to compete with Twilight’s constant ‘Twilighting’… I think ‘Starlighting’ comes remarkably close.


The face you make when you feel your sanity slip away.

Though to be fair, between Starlight’s struggle to spend time with Trixie and with the students, it’s no wonder she’s overwhelmed. Much less being able to focus on one thing at a time (And that says a lot from someone who’s a master at multi-tasking).


When you forgot that you already assigned your friend to do a task.


I’d like to know where this pairing escalates, but I doubt we’ll have time.


I hate shopping, especially around an antique store. But this stuff does look cool.




Is it wrong for me to say I like Ocellus better as a Dragon?

Now if I can just take a detour from the main story for a moment, you’d wonder if the following segments with the students are subtle hints for stories the crew ‘could’ put together if they didn’t end with this season. When it comes to Smolder and Gallus, it’s difficult knowing their standing. One minute they are cool, next thing you know they are butting heads (Though I feel for him especially around books). As for poor Ocellus, have we ever considered if Changelings have an ‘identity’ issue as if they’d feel more comfortable if they were something else? Course, we’ve seen an instance where Ocellus’ fear is that she’ll end up being like Chrysalis… Just wait till they confront her in the finale.

As for Starlight…


After all that coffee and tea, she had better hope that the restrooms don’t have lines.

And it’s in this moment when Starlight realized, between all the time barely spent with Trixie and her students… She done screwed up!


When I accidentally deleted my review and had to start the freaking page again! URGH!

By the time Starlight makes it to Sugarcube Corner, it’s late in the day, the store is closing, and Mrs. Cake had already shared the recipe with Trixie, who I can imagine is fuming that her friend ‘ding-dong’ ditched her… Again. As disappointed and sad as Starlight should be, in the end she did bring this whole thing on herself thinking she can do both. It’s like those shows that featured someone trying to do both (Some had the characters using super-speed to go between dates) and seeing this familiar set-up we knew it never plans out. And frankly things only get worse for Starlight when she gets back to the office…


Insert ‘The Incredibles’ reference here.

We have to hand it to Trixie for being clever in this scenario. She knew that Starlight’s office would be place she’d find her, given the automatic notification to be summoned anytime anyone walks through the door. Which begs the question as to how often this has happened and what ultimately drove Trixie to finally confront her best friend on the manner, kind of makes Starlight wish she didn’t accept Twilight’s offer to be student counselor. Finally having had enough and in attempt to appease her best friend, she tells Silverstream, who just happened to pop by with another question, to figure things out for herself until school is back in session.


Because this won’t have ‘any’ negative repercussions at all.


Okay I admit, it’s a beautiful underground paradise.

So Starlight and Trixie are able to attend Maud and Mudbriar’s solstice party, held in Maud’s cavern home because… Sure, why not? And they aren’t the only guests as even Sunburst arrives among the attendees. At a glance, we’d worry they were all kind of ‘shoved’ into this story but believe it or not each of them do get a solid moment to shine. Now I wouldn’t say an underground cavern would be an appropriate joint for a party, especially when it rains, but at least that’s not the one dangerous element to worry about right now…


Well… Can’t say the attention to detail isn’t canny.

I mean really, just looking at this cake this is a health hazard waiting to happen. Forget about breaking a tooth given how hard it looks, but it’s so sharp (And not in a good way) we’d be lucky if that didn’t cut a vein. Hell, even if it were a ‘Chocolate’ cake even I wouldn’t be caught dead eating…


Insert *angry growls* here.

*Pause, takes a slice* But who am I to say ‘no’ to free food? Heh heh heh…. Oooh boy.

Now I should be discussing these two more in the character section, but I have to admit when I first saw this dude… He reminds me so much of Sheldon Cooper, but TWICE as annoying. In the beginning, I had to wonder ‘What would some pony like Maud see in Mudbriar that not even Pinkie could?’. To be fair, Mud does provide some funny lines and the back-and-forth discussions between these two love birds is charming to watch (And there’s plenty more in the later half). All that matters are that with Spring Break being official, the group can just take the time to enjoy the party, each other’s company…


Oh, hi Terramar.

But the moment of peace doesn’t last long when it turns out Silversteam never made it home, there’s search parties between Ponyville and Mount Aris, which draws Terramar coming to check at the school. Remember that ‘negative repercussion’ ordeal I briefly mentioned? Yeah… That was going to bite Starlight in the flank.


Starlight facing possible charges and Trixie not giving a shit.

Now the part with Terramar criticizing Starlight’s counseling abilities was a tad extreme, even if his sister was in serious jeopardy. It’s like that one person who prematurely judges a person without knowing both ends of the story… Like how my last relationship turned out… Never again! At least Trixie, even though she was mad at Starlight for neglecting their friendship, mad props to Trixie for standing up for her best friend at her most vulnerable.


Nopony gets to lay a hoof on my best mare, except the Great… And Powerful… Trixie!

Trixie may have ‘escalated’ the problem with Starlight feeling responsible for causing Silverstream to go missing, the one time a student needed help and she turned it away (Like that one episode of ‘Mom’ with Emily Osment). However, Trixie ‘knew’ Starlight was overwhelmed with her job and frankly we can’t deny that we don’t give teachers and faculty credit. They may work hard at their jobs and want to help their students, but they are still ordinary Joes who need time for themselves and there’s nothing wrong with needing a break (Again, Starlight should’ve set some business hours before hand… Or hoof). Doesn’t help that Mudbriar would use his ‘technically’ speech to make corrections.


Though in that rare moment Maud starts showing emotions, you know she’s had enough.

The search through the school grounds leads Starlight and Terramar into Silverstream’s dorm room (Which should’ve been the first place they searched), where they discover the ‘school project’ Silverstream was referring to.


No offense Starlight, but one of us was actually ‘paying’ attention.

Turns out Silverstream wasn’t just asking for questions as to why Seaponies should come to the surface nor the benefits to showers, in her spare time she had been researching cockatrices. Come to think of it, apart from that one other reference in the Season 8 finale, we don’t see the species as often after Season 1. Though you’d think Silverstream is a tad ambitious with her studies, especially since she appears to be heading into the Everfree Forest to look for them.


You’re not deep in your research until you’re studying their anatomy.

Turns out Starlight and Terramar aren’t the only ones searching for Silverstream, as Trixie and the others have decided to put the solstice party aside to help. You can feel the excitement in the air from our protagonists.


Just needs farm clothes and a different background and the reference makes sense.

At the mention of Starlight being at the Everfree Forest, Trixie takes the lead through the forest and as far as her navigation skills… Well…



Least this is better than Hugh Neutron’s outdoor navigating.

Fortunately, Silverstream’s research notes and Mudbriar’s knowledge of shade trees are able to help the group navigate their way through this dark, mysterious wood.


Okay, I admit they ‘are’ a cute couple.

Turns out the trail leads to a whole colony of cockatrices, right smack-dab in the midst of some mass migration (And they are supposed to be solitary creatures too). It’s just lucky the ponies are in one place, while the Cockatrice are too dumb to know they are watching…


Me and my big mouth!

And cue, the classic ‘Split-and-run’ story element with the entire group doing their best to keep their eyes covered to avoid being turned to stone (You’d think they’d thought to bring ‘blind folds’ or something). Starlight manages to teleport her friends to safety one-by-one, while others well…


Don’t make a dirty joke… Don’t make a dirty joke… Don’t make a dirty joke…

Maud can clearly fend for herself, especially when it comes to defending her boyfriend… While I’m resisting the urge to make a ‘Mud’ joke in this next clip.


Stick Pony just evolved into Stone Pony.

It’s in this moment in the Cockatrices’ hot pursuit, our heroes find themselves seeking shelter within the castle doors of the ‘Castle of the Two Sisters’.


Those birds must definitely have trouble with 'pantry doors'.

It all seems fruitless for our protagonists at this stage. Silverstream is nowhere to be found, the Cockatrice still on the hunt, and Starlight feels even more responsible for her going missing. Though I think pledging to never take time off from work is a ‘little’ tad extreme, I will say. I mean the only other place Starlight never thought to look is the crystal treehouse the students would go to and… Oh…


Because you’re cute, I’m going to let this slide.

Inside the treehouse, which I have to admire the details watching this scene, the group discovers Silverstream finishing her research project and… HOLY CRAP!!!


*Puts on blindfold* I’M TOO YOUNG TO BE STONED… Yeah, I went there.

Plot twist: Turns out this particular cockatrice, whose name is Edith, is actually helping Silverstream complete her project. Though does this make her Silverstream’s pet or was she only brought in to help? She seems more intelligent compared to the others. Anyways, turns out Silverstream had followed Starlight’s advice from earlier and sought to finish her assignment before going home for the spring break. Now as ditsy as she can be, you’d think she’d have written her brother a letter saying not to wait for her because she needed to finish her work. I mean it’s not like anybody got hurt in all this worry…


Shut up, Mud!

Thankfully, Mudbriar is returned to normal once back home (Though I think Maud loved him more as a stone statue), Terramar and Silverstream are reunited, and the spring solstice party continues. True Starlight feels guilty for abandoning Silverstream and failing her duties as counselor, but this episode does have a strong moral: Nobody is expected to completely devote to the needs of the students, not without risking the neglect of her friends. In a way, it’s like an ongoing process with the constant shift of time and that this isn’t a problem that can be resolved right away but it’s still a matter of priorities. Course, this all could’ve been avoided had Starlight properly managed her schedule with specific times and maybe Silverstream agreed to see her with ‘important’ matters… Not like she was helpful on all the other parts.


You weren’t exactly helpful either, wise guy!

And… Moving on!

The Characters

Pros/Cons


It just wouldn’t make sense not to make this duo the first to discuss.

In this rare instance in my short time reviewing, this a moment where both are leads would be categorized in ‘both’ areas. The irony is that both ponies did mean well with their actions, they both had goals they wanted to achieve, yet some instances had them going the wrong way. It was noble of Starlight to want to help the students every chance she can, it’s relatable to anyone who loves their job. The issue here was that Starlight was neglecting the needs of her friends even when she doesn’t know she’s hurting anypony and because she kept constantly shifting between two things there was no way she could properly think straight. True Trixie may have escalated the problem with forcing Starlight to choose between her job and her friends, yet we cannot help but sympathize with Trixie for all she’s had to do to arrange for some bonding with her best friend. In the end, this is why I enjoy them as ‘flawed protagonists’ that they can admit what they did was wrong and are willing to make up for it (Least better than that ‘Road to Friendship’ episode, though I loved the song).

And now back to our regularly scheduled character segments.

Pros



You know it's the most emotion these stoic ponies give in a single episode.

Maud Pie and Mudbriar are definitely enjoyable to watch whenever they were on screen during this episode. The fact that they would willingly leave their own party to help with the search (Forming a Search ‘Party’ so to speak) goes to show they are the ponies willing to help. Even though Mudbriar retains his whole ‘know-it all’ persona, at least he acknowledges when now’s not the appropriate time which to me is possibly the most development we see out of this dude. Plus, every line Maud throws out (Especially the scenes where Mudbriar is a stone figure) are both spot-on and clever as if the fans don’t love Maud more than they already do. The way they make this night work when things don’t go according to plan leads to a strong comparison between their relationship and Star-Trix, which has kind of been ‘rocky’ during most of the episode.

I'm going to shut up, now.


I’m sorry Sunburst, I couldn’t find any better pictures.

On one hand, it doesn't seem like Sunburst really did much to 'barely' clench a spot here. It’s no secret that I can find Sunburst ‘clueless’ (Especially how Starlight feels he’s more than her best friend) and he can be socially awkward, but never say his smarts weren’t sufficient during this episode. It takes a nerd pony of Sunburst nature to know about the cockatrice particularly towards their ‘nesting response’ (I don’t study birds so I wouldn’t know). The moments with Sunburst are particularly funny, especially this part:


ZOINKS!!!

Come on, I had to make that joke at least once!

The Cons


Wait! Why am I on this list?!

Now to be fair, Terramar was concerned for his sister’s safety and did go through a lot of trouble trying to bring her home. As someone who has a sister of my own, I’d be worried if she never came home even when she said she would. But honestly, I think what really turned me off was how quick for Terramar to accuse Starlight of being at fault for his sister’s disappearance without knowing both sides of the story. The remainder of his time does make up for what goes on, but honestly, I don’t think I could’ve allowed that to slide.


Okay, I admit this is cute!

Before anyone starts throwing beer bottles and knives at me, let me explain. Granted, it wasn’t entirely Silverstream’s fault for the cast going through all the trouble to find her considering she ‘did’ mention a project to Starlight (Which she wasn’t really paying attention to). But I think suffice to say that the lack of communication as to where she was going to go did put not only her counselor in danger, but also her friends who had to leave a party to find her. I will admit the question about how sea-ponies would enjoy a shower was funny and overall, again she didn’t know any better with all this. I can only justify the means as to move the plot along or add more to the problem (Though it seems the other students definitely had more story dynamic to offer).

Overall, I will admit this episode came out slightly different than the story I had in mind. I had it figured that the episode would focus on Starlight being overwhelmed with the time helping ‘every’ student, even their most pointless arguments, turns out a small fracture of this was used in the final product while the rest was an entirely different story. The moral still holds up about managing time with your job while not neglecting time with your friends, plus the addition of all the popular guest characters for this episode truly helped to move the story for long and to add their own humor without overshadowing the main leads. While the focus on the actual issue could’ve been dived more deeply, I will admit the episode is charming enough and it’s humorous moments (Especially with Maud and Mud) made it fun to watch. I’d say as far as the episode goes, it’s pretty good story on it’s own and we did get our wish to have a Starlight related episode (Only, a Starlight/Trixie story which is even better to some).

But the big question remains: What did YOU think? Be sure to leave a comment below at your earliest convenience.

*Picks up a spoon* Until next week, this is the Dramamaster829…

*CLANG!!!!*

*Dramamaster looks down to see the spoon bent after attempting to eat the Spring Solstice cake. He looks at the spoon, then hurls it aside before reaching for his cellphone*

I think I’m just going to order ‘pizza’ tonight… Good night, fellow readers!

Comments ( 4 )

Yeah, that's what work gets ya.

5072653
In a way it kind of does. I get why Starlight wants to make herself as readily available as possible. At first, it seemed like there was nothing to do as a 'Student Counselor' since hardly any pony (Much less any creature) was coming to her office. It seemed as if this whole counselor business was more of an afterthought. But since making her office more open for all hours, lots of students did pile in but the work soon became too much. In a way, people can relate to being in Starlight's position to work so hard and yet missing out on life. Whether it's much needed time with the family or outings with friends or even just going to the beach.

There are people who love their jobs, I have respect in that because I too have a job that I enjoy. But the one thing we all must learn to avoid is not allowing our work to feel as if it's sucking the life out of us. Otherwise, what good is it to live if we have nothing but work to look forward to?

5072805
Well, at least she's not worse than Mr. Banks. After all, Starlight should get some advice from Bert with her, I mean look at Bert, a jack of all trades, yet he finds fun and jolly in his jobs and, while doing his work, he's just playing along even with friends and Mary by his side, a big merry man if you ask me.

5072808
She probably could. It only goes to prove that she's not 'perfect' as the entire fandom assumed she'd be, that she easily replace any of the Mane Six if that was the show's plan. But as I've stated in my review: Starlight Glimmer is a 'flawed' protagonist, who still has much to learn even as it seems she has her act together. The moral of this story is not something that can be learned overnight, it's much like 'time' which is constantly shifting. The only thing she could do is 'limit' her hours or at least have her students approach her when there are more important matters to talk about. The last thing she needs is for students to come up to her and tell her their life stories.

I'm sure the folks at those conventions certainly want to keep their time with their fans brief knowing there are tons looking for an autograph, a picture, or maybe a hand shake if they are lucky.

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