Thursday, 11 May 2017

Episode review: S7E07: "Parental Glideance"

Scootaloo winking, wearing a camera around her neck
Scootaloo is Scootaloo-er than ever before in this episode
Another day, another episode. I think I can keep up with the Canadian schedule reasonably well, so I'm going to continue with my plan to post two reviews a week. This time around, we had a newcomer to the writing staff: Josh Hamilton, whose previous credits include episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. After my disappointment with "Forever Filly", would the 150th episode of the show deliver something more?

Yes! This is not only an episode I like, it's my favourite episode of Season Seven so far. In fact, it's probably the best debut since Michael Vogel delighted us all (okay, nearly all) with the spectacular "A Hearth's Warming Tail" last season. "Parental Glideance" is a truly lovely episode, full of heart and packed with nice touches in the way that Friendship is Magic can do so well. Also, there's Scootaloo. A whole lot of Scootaloo. Without one big minus, this could have been an all-time classic; it's still great.

Let's start with Rainbow, who clearly has some issues. Okay, I get that she finds those parents of hers annoying – who wouldn't? – but not even telling them she was a Wonderbolt? Even though they've never been to a show, it's stretching things a bit to suggest that nopony else had dropped by to congratulate them on raising such a successful daughter. Unless, of course, all Bow Hot Hoof (what?) and Windy Whistles' (G1 near-reference, yay) neighbours avoid them too. Which seems probable.

An angry Rainbow looks in her locker, her unhappy parents in the background
Who's that pony in the picture on the left? Could be anypony
On the plus side, Dash is obviously now very comfortable as part of the Wonderbolts. This is probably the best episode so far at showing the camaraderie within the squad – even "Top Bolt" can't match it in that regard. Late on, we also get some intriguing backstory, though those scenes may be more notable for the way in which Derpy's results deteriorate as her eyesight does likewise. (Unlike Lightning Dust, however, Derpy's winning smile remains throughout.)

Scootaloo is absolutely adorable throughout, from the moment she launches her spectacular (and let's be honest, wildly stupid) bid to reach Cloudsdale without winged assistance right at the start. Her utter fanfillying at everything even remotely Rainbow – even, um, Dash's old nappy – helps her to be received by the Rainbow Parents as a kindred spirit. There are some lovely touches in this sequence, the Effects Door of course but also Windy's apparent Celestia collection.

Scootaloo also shines in her less happy moments later on. Yes, she overreacts somewhat when she sees Rainbow yell at her parents, but Scoot is still pretty young and besides, it gives us the chance to see how important she is to her adoptive big sister. Plus we learn that Scoot lacked supportive parents herself. This is vague enough that we can't tell whether she knew her mum and dad at all, but it's still a sobering reminder that there are worse things to deal with as a kid than over-enthusiasm. Sad story though it is, I think this has strengthened Scootaloo's character.

Filly Rainbow Dash stands atop a podium. Lightning Dust, one step down, is not pleased
There are so many stories waiting to be told from this scene alone
I only have one major complaint with this episode: that Rainbow's parents never really accept that their obsession with supporting their daughter is ridiculously over the top. We're made to feel as though Rainbow's outburst at them is entirely unreasonable, but in context I don't think that's the case. Yes, she overdid the emotion there, but she still had a point. There is a slight suggestion Bow and Windy may appreciate the situation almost at the end of the ep, but we don't get anything more.

Mostly, though, I was delighted with "Parental Glideance", to the extent that I've already rewatched it just for fun; I intend to do so again before long. It gave us a reason why we haven't seen Rainbow's parents before, as well as providing Dash herself with an interesting character flaw. Her relationship with Scootaloo was tested, and we found out a little more about Scoot's own background, even if it wasn't particularly cheerful. As so often with FiM, character-driven episodes are the best.

Best quote: Scootaloo: "You should see your faces right now! [takes photo] See? That's what your faces look like!"

Yays
  • Scootaloo steals every scene she's in
  • We finally meet Rainbow's parents!
  • Some great interplay within the Wonderbolts
  • That Flight School flashback!
  • Excellently animated
  • A very fine writing debut by Josh Hamilton
Neighs
  • A real shame that Rainbow's parents were let off so lightly
  • Bow Hot Hoof is a really stupid name
★★★★

7 comments:

  1. This was great episode especially after two very mediocre ones. It's funny how all of the Scootaloo centred episodes have all been all time great episodes (even if her screaming did grate after a while!) Best facial expression has to be Dash's awkward smile during the autograph session.

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    1. It did grate, but it did so in the service of the story so I was fine with it in context. I wouldn't personally put this quite on the same plane as "Sleepless in Ponyville", but I do like it very much.

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  2. Second best episode of S7. They put a lot of energy into this ep and those energy transfer to me through characters, humors and SCREAM in EXCITING. Watching this ep worth one energy drink.

    What i like:
    + Scootaloo
    + Scootaloo has no parents to care or at least neglected parents.
    + Scootaloo finally has parents and sister to support her (yeah, RD and her parents are not real Scootaloo family but you get what i say, right)
    + Derpy journey to the Derped.
    + Too many callbacks.
    + RD yelled at her parents is amazing.
    + Wonderbolts are likable.
    + Humors

    What i dont like:
    + RD's parents are too over the top, i cant take them seriously.

    Bonus: This ep is totally opposite to Fluttershy Leans In, like a lively person...

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    1. Heh, your first three likes start with "Scootaloo". ;) And yes, I get what you mean. I'm sure as I watch it again in the future, I'll notice more stuff. I love episodes like that. :)

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  3. I just had myself a 2-part Scootaloo re-watch mini binge; finally got to see the last 2 eps again after being super busy recently.

    I'm happy to say I enjoyed this one a lot better than the first time; and was being a bit harsh on it. I must've been too tired Sunday evening - you'd have thought I'd have learnt by now not to do that..

    Anyway, since I also quite enjoy 'Forever Filly' too, I'd probably put both level with 'Flurry of Emotion', above the others so far this season. Too early to pick between those 3.

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    1. Ah, I wondered whether tiredness had played a part, given that it's something that would be likely to make all that yelling seem pretty aggravating. Glad you had a better time with the ep second time round. Interesting top three, though! Always nice to see some other points of view. :)

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  4. Poor Derpy. They're building an interesting continuity for her. Apparently she got worse at flying as her eyes deteriorated, but she never lost her enthusiasm for it. The she later moved to Ponyville, since she was attending the party Pinkie threw when Cheese Sandwich first encountered her. Once she got a bit older, she got some corrective surgery on her eyes that didn't work (or it kept things from getting even worse, or she was just being treated for an injury). As an adult, she still enjoys flying, and although she has the occasional klutz moment, she still has the confidence to enter the Best Young Flier competition and take a spot as an alternate on Ponyville's Equestria Games team (and they didn't mention so many events that, despite the one-event-per-pony rule, she would have been chosen as literally the last pegasus available). She beat out Rarity for the most stylish derby cart one year. And then she somehow traveled back in time to see Rainbow Dash's first sonic rainboom.

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