821 – “A Rockhoof and a Hard Place”
Written by: Kaita Mpambara
“When Rockhoof, heroic Pillar of the past, is having trouble fitting into the modern world, Twilight Sparkle and her friends strive to help him find a new purpose.“
The episode begins with Scootaloo fast-tracking the meeting of the Rainbow Dash Fan Club with a new Washouts fan group—which makes an eavesdropping Rainbow Dash worried that she has competition as someone Scoot looks up to. The Washouts are a group of former Wonderbolt Academy Cadets who specialize in more extreme stunts with no regard for safety.
The Washouts are of course being led by Lightning Dust, in her first appearance on the show in 130 episodes, and who is apparently as bitter as Johnny is in “Cobra Kai”. Lightning Dust founded the Washouts to fulfill her disregard for safety and the strict rules and regulations of the Wonderbolts.
When an opening comes up, Scootaloo is interested, but Rainbow Dash throws a block. Rainbow takes her to Wonderbolts HQ so that Spitfire can go into full “Matt Foley” mode to dissuade Scootaloo from joining the Wonderbolts and drop out so she could join the Washouts.
Scootaloo is not discouraged and joins the Washouts. She also says she gave up in trying to following in Rainbow’s hooves because she can’t fly. Scootaloo wants to do stunts with her scooter. However, the stunt Lightning Dust has in mind for Scootaloo, now that she knows that the latter is forming a Washouts fan club, is something Evel Knievel wouldn’t even try in his heyday. Dash saves Scootaloo from the stunt while Lightning Dust blasts off like Team Rocket and proclaims her lifelong rivalry with Rainbow Dash.
In the meantime, Rainbow Dash forms the “Scootaloo Fan Club” with Dash’s parents as members.
Here, the lesson is that Dash needed to let Scootaloo make her own decisions and can only be a great role model for her. That also means allowing her to learn from making the wrong decisions. Following a team of stunt ponies with no regard for safety clearly falls into that category. Scootaloo’s following of a pony other than Dash also calls attention to Dash’s own insecurities about someone upstaging her.
It’s a good episode with a good lesson even though there were some extraneous elements such as Pinkie’s cupcakes and why Twilight would be interested in the Washouts. Then there is Spitfire. Evidently, Nick Confalone was watching a DVD of the Best of Chris Farley (RIP) on Saturday Night Live when figuring out how to incorporate Spitfire into this episode. Anyone who watched SNL during the 1990s would enjoy that scene. If you did not, it was cringeworthy.
So it’s a good Dash and Scootaloo episode, though some things were a bit extraneous and one bit was greatly exaggerated—and I’m not talking about the stunts (which you should NEVER try anywhere).
820 – “The Washouts”
Written by: Nick Confalone
“When Scootaloo becomes enamored with The Washouts, a touring group of stunt ponies, Rainbow Dash is concerned for her safety and worries that Scoot’s days as her number one fan are over.“
In a brilliant ode to the Road Trip movies of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, Starlight and Trixie go on a road trip to Saddle Arabia. It’s similar to “Pinkie Apple Pie” in its setup, but it’s Starlight looking forward to a road trip with her best friend Trixie and her cramped caravan that must be her home—though they don’t really specify why Trixie prefers her caravan to the most spacious one from the Saddle Arabian Hoo’Far.
It is a straightforward story that is an ode to the Crosby-Hope “Road to…” pictures of the 1940s and 1950s. The song was the highlight as Starlight and Trixie play off each other in comedic fashion mixed with the usual problems encountered in a road trip episode such as finding a room, going off budget, etc.
Starlight and Trixie attempting a friendship chant like Twilight’s and Cadance’s was also hilarious. The appearance of Hoo’Far during each scene was timely. The one issue I have besides not giving a specific explanation as to why Trixie does not want to part ways with her caravan is that Starlight indeed had no right to trade it away in the first place. Outside of that, the episode is a continuation of the slow, but certain improvement of the episodes as Season Eight, for those following the US broadcast schedule, winds down.
We have an interesting question in class asked by the Young Six: How can two ponies with very divergent interests such as Rarity and Rainbow Dash be friends? Rarity and Rainbow Dash have a hard time answering that question themselves as Rarity is more concerned with uniforms than catching the ball in buckball while Rainbow Dash is every person ever waiting on someone shopping for footwear. (I know Applejack is the cowgirl, but Rarity has worn cowgirl boots much more often on the show.) Things come to a head in the gem mine when Dash wants to go treasure hunting while Rarity is looking at the gems and appear to wreck Twilight’s lesson.
Both are called into Starlight’s office and she suggests putting themselves in the other’s shoes (not necessarily Rarity’s boots which could be an opportunity for Hasbro or Build-A-Bear). Rarity is given a “Daring Do” book while Rainbow Dash is given a “Shadow Spade” book—neither one reads the other’s book.
Cue the contrived missing artifact for Rainbow Dash and Rarity to find and learn something new from each other. We meet a new creature in a Bufagren and Rarity creates toothpaste that freshens its breath. The trail of blue glitter (not the magenta glitter from Rarity’s boots) leads to Spike who had the amulet all along. And that’s our lesson for today every creature!
I like how this is turned into a friendship lesson for the Young Six as it fits the theme of the season. It also gives us a chance to see the (}no pun intended) rare dynamic between Rainbow Dash and Rarity. It’s also good that they show it is normal for friends to disagree and banter from time to time.
This could well have been a recycle of a Season One episode (“Look Before You Sleep” in particular), but it’s saved by the fact that it is wrapped around teaching a lesson to the Young Six. The only issue I have is that you can tell that this quest was a setup, especially if you recognize the school’s symbol on the door. Outside of that, this is still a good episode as it continues a string of them.