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Season 8, Episode 14: A Matter of Principals

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Title: A Matter of Principals

 

Synopsis: Discord gets frustrated when Twilight Sparkle leaves Starlight in charge of the School of Friendship, so he does his best to make her new role impossible.

 

Airs: Today at 11:30 A.M. on Discovery Family

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This kinda seems like a step back for Discord episodes, and at this point I'm starting to lose patience with him just being a jerk for the sake of it. Moreover, the jokes are surprisingly hit-and-miss, and this is easily the least funny Discord episode to date; meanwhile, the climax is just kinda stupid. Several jokes did land, but not enough. Point by point:

  • Both of Starlight's focus episodes this season have had her constantly reacting to an outside nuisance, and while that's a recurring problem with the show in general, it's particularly tragic for Starlight, who barely gets a chance to show off what makes her uniquely interesting here. I mean, she's fine, and her insecurity about the role does set her apart a little, but the only point where she doesn't just seem like a more aggressive version of Twilight is when she freaks out at Discord's insult, and the episode immediately backs away from that. Her self-doubt just doesn't go anywhere, and Discord's opinion of her is never addressed again, so why did we need the scene with the laser? Discord could have just become a ghost because he wanted to. 
  • Discord is still funny at times - watching him float away as a leaf was fun, and all the random stuff he put in Starlight's office was neat, if a little too random. My favourite Discord moment here was when he wore a bunch of skater gear, like Steve Buschemi in 30 Rock, and answered a banana as if it's a phone. That phone gag is leagues ahead of the ones in the movie. Too often, though, he just creates monsters or brings back things we've already seen. Oh boy, Iron Will just... being Iron Will. Oh boy, the dragonsneeze tree. Oh boy, the bugbear. None of that is very funny, so I seriously wonder if Discord was just off his game. 
  • And it's frustrating to see this kind of Discord episode again after the last few dialed him back a bit. I don't like to think the mane six just keep him around because they have no other choice, and this episode's attempt to make him sympathetic falls totally flat, because while it's obvious, it's barely addressed until the last second, and giving him a position of authority makes no sense after he's proved he doesn't deserve it. I know how this kind of thing can be done better, so I don't have much patience for this.
  • They seriously got Spitfire to serve as substitute teacher? I didn't think she would have that much free time. 
  • The Trixie scene was my favourite here, and she was particularly fun to watch. I'd like to see how she'd actually teach a class. And I wish we saw more of Spitfire. 
  • The student six's scavenger hunt stuff was cute. And Yona being inspired by Iron Will? That was pretty great. Best student! 
  • To be honest, I still prefer Discord faking the Cutie Map to actually having the Cutie Map facilitate this episode.
  • The uneven jokes would have been easier to tolerate were the jokes more consistent, and the uneven jokes would have been easier to tolerate were the plot not so weak. As is, I always felt my patience tested while I waited for the good parts, and that's not how I want to feel about this show.

Score:
Entertainment: 5/10
Characters: 4/10
Themes: 5/10
Story: 3/10

Overall: 43/100

 

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Kind of hit and miss for me. I found the 30 Rock reference to be kind of eye rolling (if only because the meme has already been done to death), but the banana phone reference was surprisingly good.

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5 hours ago, WaterPulse said:

but the banana phone reference was surprisingly good.

I liked it here more than the movie because it doubles down on the absurdity. Trixie being called about a service plan is the best gag in the episode. She doesn't even know what a cell phone is! 

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I wanted to cross into Equestria and choke Discord by the end of this episode. Good lord he pissed me right off here. And the cherry on top of the sundae? When Starlight apologized to him. For his massive disruption of the school and endangering the lives of the students, there. Fuck you, Discord. Fuck you FUCK YOU!

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I honestly felt bad for Starlight and the students, Discord was a major jerk. The highlight was Trixie as substitute teacher. I wish we could have seen Spitfire teaching her class. Wonder how she became friends with Starlight, we saw how Trixie and Maud bonded with Starlight, but the choice of Spitfire was unusual. (Also doesn't Spitfire have the Wonderbolts Academy to run?)

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Cameo: The Episode. Deliciously funny, tough.
It was good seeing Starlight getting a dose of Discord, too.

Honestly, it was ok. Not really much to speak of it and Starlight has a tendency of annoying me when she uses her magic like that.

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Starlight is the new Twilight, and I don't mean that in a derogatory fashion. She really has taken on the role of the young viewer who needs to figure these lessons out for the first time. Instead of ignoring her friends who are acting strangely, or even acting out, she discovered that she has to listen to them to know what's really going on besides "X is being bad."
You can kind of relate this to the Mane 5's puzzlement at Pinkie's musical obsession in Swarm of the Century, or Pinkie's frustration with the yaks in Not Asking For Trouble.

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31 minutes ago, ABronyAccount said:

Starlight is the new Twilight, and I don't mean that in a derogatory fashion. She really has taken on the role of the young viewer who needs to figure these lessons out for the first time. Instead of ignoring her friends who are acting strangely, or even acting out, she discovered that she has to listen to them to know what's really going on besides "X is being bad."
You can kind of relate this to the Mane 5's puzzlement at Pinkie's musical obsession in Swarm of the Century, or Pinkie's frustration with the yaks in Not Asking For Trouble.

Agreed. Even having the some of the same , kind of, sarcastic reactions Twilight had in the earlier days of the cartoon in these situations.

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It was...alright actually.

 

- Despite questionable morality,  still can't help but enjoy Discord's shenanigans. Part of me sees him as a big child with tremendous power.

- I see Spike really likes to fly ^_^

- Looks like Starlight can have problems with keeping her head cool. I mean, that BFG1000000000 in Discord's face :o

- Banana phone. FLIPPIN' BANANA PHONE! You have no idea how loud my cry was when I saw it. Yes! Just YES!

 

I have to say though, the moment when Twilie and friends came back and Discord lost his vice-principal rank made it...meaningless to an extent.

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On 8/15/2018 at 6:10 PM, Light Blade said:

- Despite questionable morality,  still can't help but enjoy Discord's shenanigans. Part of me sees him as a big child with tremendous power.

Agreed. Acting out because your feelings are hurt is such a thing kids do, I'm surprised more people didn't pick up on it when going over this episode. There's a couple of reviewers in particular who have children and didn't even mention that aspect of it, while complaining about how it's supposedly "out of character" for a reformed Discord.

On 8/15/2018 at 6:10 PM, Light Blade said:

I- Banana phone. FLIPPIN' BANANA PHONE! You have no idea how loud my cry was when I saw it. Yes! Just YES!

Y E S

 

And Trixie's all like "what exactly is a long distance plan?" because ponies don't have phones!

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