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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S8 E6 "Surf and/or Turf"

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Written by Brian Hohlfeld
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The Cutie Mark Crusaders are surprised to discover that their cutie marks are glowing, and Twilight Sparkle tells them that the Cutie Map has a friendship mission for them, in far-off Mount Aris. As she needs to get a permission form signed by Silverstream's parents for the school, Twilight escorts the CMC as they take the train to the newly opened Mount Aris station, since the hippogriffs there no longer have to worry about the Storm King.

When they arrive, they meet Terramar, Silverstream's brother, who helps to bring them to his father, Sky Beak. Twilight and the CMC are impressed with how revitalized Mount Aris has become, and they have arrived just in time for one of their celebrations. While Twilight goes off to enjoy the festivities, the CMC continue to talk to Terramar about himself, learning that while some of the hippogriffs returned to live on Mount Aris, others, including his mother Ocean Flow, opted to remain in Seaquestria as seaponies; fortunately, with the help of the shards of the magic pearl they each wear as necklaces, they can go back and forth between land and sea. However, Terramar is stuck trying to decide to stay with his father or mother, and the CMC discover that Terramar is the problem they need to solve.

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While exploring Aris, Sweetie Belle comes on the Harmonizing Heights, a valley with musical-like properties that enthralls her. She decides to start to make a checklist of the benefits and downsides of Mount Aris, but Scootaloo points out they haven't seen Seaquestria yet. When Twilight is ready to get Ocean Flow's signature, Terramar uses his necklace to transform all of them into seaponies. Scootaloo is quick to love swimming as it feels like flying to her, but Sweetie Belle is far less impressed. After they meet Ocean Flow and Twilight leaves to join her for some other activities, Terramar shows the CMC around Seaquestria. Scootaloo identifies several positive elements of Seaquestria over Mount Aris. Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo start to argue about which place is better, and Apple Bloom is unable to come to a decision. Terramar, frustrated that the CMC have ended up arguing among themselves instead of helping him decide, runs off.

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Apple Bloom tries to bring Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo back on speaking terms, while Twilight joins up with them on the beach. As they talk about Terramar's situation, both the hippogriffs and the seaponies arrive, looking to offer Twilight more opportunities to try their cultures. This gives Sweetie Belle an idea. The CMC go off to find Terramar, who has given up hope in trying to choose, and they suggest there's a better way. By the time they bring Terramar back to the beach, there is a large picnic-like gathering of both hippogriffs and seaponies set up by Twilight and the CMC. Sky Beak and Ocean Flow both apologize to Terramar, as they never wanted to make it sound like he needed to choose one place or the other, but instead assure him he has the freedom to go back and forth, and they will love him the same. Pleased that he doesn't have to make a decision, Terramar thanks the CMC and happily joins his family, while the CMC find their cutie marks glowing again, indicating their mission was a success.


Tropes:

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Everyone in Mount Aris and Seaquestria loves Princess Twilight and invites her to all kinds of activities.
  • All There in the Manual: Nicole Dubuc stated in a tweet that Ocean Flow is Queen Novo's sister.
  • Arboreal Abode: The hippogriffs of Mount Aris live in house built into enormous living trees, with doors at their bases, windows spiraling up their trunks and large, glass-sided chambers nested in the canopies, their walls growing directly from the trunks. The effect is that their city looks as much like a lush, open forest as it does like a typical settlement.
  • Artistic License – Biology: During the song, Scootaloo refers to sea turtles and a bottlenose dolphin as tortoises and a porpoise respectively. Though that may be for the sake of rhyming.
  • Atlantis Is Boring: Sweetie Belle certainly thinks so. She finds Seaquestria boring and doesn't like swimming. The episode itself averts the trope - showing that there's plenty to do there.
  • Behind the Black: Twilight pulls her trophy from the ring toss booth in from stage left. Then, just as quickly, it disappears back into hammerspace. She does the same with the field trip form, unless she's keeping it in her hair.
  • Big Sister Worship: Apple Bloom slightly changes the story of the Battle of Canterlot to say Applejack defeated the Storm King all by herself.
  • Blatant Lies: Apple Bloom mentions that Applejack defeated the Storm King by herself, which she says makes the story more exciting.
  • Busman's Holiday: Played for laughs; this is what Twilight says she's doing as she's chaperoning the CMC, but even the CMC are laughing at her excuse of "research" before long. By the end of the episode, when invited to a screeching competition, she drops all pretenses of such.
  • Call-Back: Mount Aris and Seaquestria, first introduced in the movie, serve as the main settings of the episode. The plot itself is driven by the consequences of the movie's resolution: since the hippogriffs no longer have to hide underwater, some have chosen to take that form and return to their old home on Mount Aris. Others have decided to remain seaponies and continue living in Seaquestria since they've gotten used to it. A few, like Terramar, can't decide which world or form they want to live in.
  • Character Development: Compare Twilight's behavior here to "A Royal Problem". In that one she was obviously nervous, closely monitoring and often criticizing Starlight's actions, which inadvertently made the mission harder than it needed to be. Here she contents herself with acting as a chaperone and giving a little general advice, only stepping in when it's clear the CMC have hit a serious snag. Downplayed as she's not dealing with a mentor and pillar of her world view, however.
  • Child of Two Worlds: Since everygriff else has already chosen to be either a hippogriff or a seapony, Terramar feels pressured to choose one or the other. Downplayed, since everygriff wears a fragment of the Pearl so they still can switch back and forth whenever they want.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When they arrive at Mount Aris, Sweetie Belle wonders aloud what kind of cutie mark-related friendship problem they have to solve. Twilight quickly points out that hippogriffs don't have cutie marks.
  • Cool Big Sis:
    • Twilight of a sort to the CMC, not only acting as chaperone but gently leading them and helping them when they need it. Much like in "Twilight Time", it's clear the CMC are close friends with her and look up to her much like their own sisters (surrogate in Scootaloo's case).
    • Played with when Apple Bloom exaggerates Applejack's efforts in the Battle of Canterlot; Apple Bloom certainly considers her cool, but her actual actions weren't so extensive.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In general, the episode can be interpreted to parallel a lot of real-life situations where someone finds themselves torn between two lifestyles, homes or identities.
    • Terramar is in a situation where his father has returned to surface and become a hippogriff while his mother opts to stay in sea as a seapony, with him torn between the two places. This situation could easily compared to a kid whose parents are divorced. Notably, after hearing that his father lives on Mount Aris and his mother lives in Seaquestria, Sweetie Belle acts sheepish and says "Oh, I'm sorry" like a person who realizes they've brought up such a sensitive topic. Sky Beak and Ocean Flow could be interpreted to be Amicable Exes given how they greet each other near the end.
    • Having to choose between two species to be your "default" by itself may bring up comparisons to the struggles transgender/gender-fluid people go through when it comes to deciding which gender they have to go with in adulthood.
    • On a similar note, Terramar's dilemma can also be reminiscent of someone torn between two cultures or nationalities — for instance, someone born in one culture who moved into another, or with parents from different cultures — and having to choose whether to favor one or the other or to favor a "hybrid" or bicultural identity.
    • The situation between the hippogriffs and seaponies also parallels an area where two very distinct cultures live in their own separate communities.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Scootaloo invokes this twice.
    • When the CMC reveal to Twilight their glowing cutie marks, and Twilight tells them that the map is calling them, Scootaloo excitedly asks "Did I mention we're glowing?"
    • She does this again when she talks about the upsides of living in Seaquestria.
      Scootaloo: Swimming is like flying, multi-color fish, and did I mention the flying thing?!
  • Dolphins, Dolphins Everywhere: Several bottlenose dolphins show up in Seaquestria.
  • Easily Forgiven: Everyone in Mount Aris and Seaquestria loves Twilight, despite the last time she was there she tried to steal their Pearl of Transformation. The attempted theft is never even mentioned. Justified in that Twilight is the reason they are free now.
  • Easily Impressed: The Crusaders become excited when they find out they've arrived at Mount Aris for the "Glad to be a Hippogriff Festival". Turns out the hippogriffs do this every weekend.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: Ocean Flow offers to show baby pictures of Terramar and Silverstream to Princess Twilight. Terramar is appropriately embarrassed by the idea; Twilight thinks it's adorable.
  • Feather Fingers: Terramar briefly gestures with one of his wings while bemoaning his situation.
  • Frame Break: At one point during the song, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle "fight" over the screen division between the Harmonizing Heights and Seaquestria, pushing each of their sides with their heads, thus illustrating each "pushing" their opinions about those places.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Sweetie Belle runs off at Super Speed which would seem like Toon Physics, her horn is glowing meaning it's due to her using Accelero.
  • Freeze-Frame Ending: The episode ends with Terramar frozen in midjump in his seapony form with both his parents at opposite sides of him.
  • Friendly, Playful Dolphin: A dolphin high-fives Scootaloo during her part in the song "Your Heart Is in Two Places".
  • Furry Reminder: The hippogriffs let out loud, eagle-like screeches on a number of occasions.
  • The Ghost:
    • Queen Novo is mentioned but is never seen in either Mount Aris or Seaquestria.
    • Silverstream is mentioned several times, with Twilight going with the CMC to Mount Aris so her parents can sign a permission form allowing her to go on school field trips, but doesn't actually appear in the episode, though her face is shown on the permission form.
  • Going Native: Downplayed. Twilight indulges in the hippogriffs' festivities (including seafood treats, which aren't part of a pony's regular diet), but only under the justification of cultural "research".
  • Good Parents: Sky Beak and Ocean Flow. They both dote on Terramar, and when they find out about his problem, they assure him that he doesn't have to choose between Mount Aris and Seaquestria, and can keep visiting them both.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Literally. The hippogriffs use terms like "everygriff" and "anygriff" to refer to each other.
  • Innocent Bigot: Played with. Sweetie Belle tells Apple Bloom that it's rude to ask how a hippogriff can have a seapony brother. Then Terramar changes from seapony to hippogriff in front of them.
    Apple Bloom: Can I ask now?
  • Innocently Insensitive:
    • The Crusaders become overjoyed when they realize Terramar has a problem they need to solve.
    • Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo are insensitive to each other and Terramar when trying to force Terramar to choose between Harmonizing Heights and Seaquestria.
  • It's All About Me: Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo try to convince Terramar to choose Harmonizing Heights over Seaquestria, and vice-versa, chiefly due to their own individual liking for those places.
  • Like a Duck Takes to Water: Replace "duck" with "fish" and it's a Literal Metaphor. Everypony easily takes to swimming as a seapony, but Scootaloo in particular enjoys how it "must be just like flying!"
  • Literary Allusion Title: The title is a play on the menu item "Surf and Turf", which usually refers to a dish that includes lobster and steak.
  • Meaningful Name: Terramar, containing the Latin words for both land (terra) and sea (mar).
    • While Seaquestria is obviously a portmanteau of "sea" and "Equestria," it (perhaps coincidentally) recalls the word "sequester," something the residents of Mount Aris had to do to themselves when turning into seaponies to hide from the Storm King.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: In-Universe; a big reason Sweetie Belle adores the aptly named Harmonizing Heights is the musical ambiance.
  • Never My Fault: After Terramar runs off out of frustration, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle initially blame each other for it. It's only when Twilight obliviously assures them they did nothing wrong that the two admit they were at fault.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Similar to the previous map missions, the Crusaders end up making the situation worse before they fix it. Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo arguing over whether Mount Aris or Seaquestria is better causes Terramar to briefly give up on both places, seeing it as a hopeless choice.
  • Only Sane Woman: Apple Bloom is the only one who tries to remain neutral and impartial when helping Terramar figure out where he should live. She gives both her friends a Disapproving Look after they cause him to leave in frustration and blame each other for it.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle get into an argument over whether Mount Aris or Seaquestria is the best place for Terramar to live and end up not speaking to each other. They patch things up when explaining their situation to Twilight.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Terramar doesn't tell his parents about his concerns, which prevents them from being resolved in a timely fashion.
  • Quarreling Song: Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo argue the merits of Harmonizing Heights and Seaquestria in lyrical form. The song ends in Ham-to-Ham Combat.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Part of the reason why Twilight comes with the Cutie Mark Crusaders on their mission is because they’re too young to go on an international trip all by themselves, so they need a chaperone.
    • Scootaloo's and Sweetie Belle's apology is sincere, but Terramar's still frustrated because, while well-meaning, it's gotten him nowhere closer to choosing than he was before.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: "Your Heart Is in Two Places" had rapid-fire rhyming within individual lines. Sweetie Belle rhymes "dare" with eight other words within two lines, which have a different terminal rhyme, and Scootaloo's verse has its fair share of similar rhymes.
  • Running Gag: Everything Twilight does has the justification of "research" throughout the episode.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Twilight eats hippogriff treats that include fish, which ponies aren't normally shown eating. Real-life horses can eat meat, but will only do so if desperate and it's not the best for their digestive systems or diet. May also count as Aluminum Christmas Trees with how little the show has anyone eating meat.
    • The bald eagle that briefly appears with Sweetie Belle during the song lets out the cry of an actual bald eagle, rather than the screech of a red-tailed hawk. This is refreshing since "May the Best Pet Win!" made that mistake.
  • Take a Third Option: After Terramar's parents hear about what he's worried about they tell him he doesn't need to choose where to live and can keep doing what he has been doing, traveling back and forth between both places and enjoying them both. Before that, when he gives up over both places, he compromises by climbing up a tree.
  • Tell Him I'm Not Speaking to Him: Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo briefly come to this over their differing opinions regarding Harmonizing Heights and Seaquestria, using Apple Bloom as an intermediary... even though they're only sitting about a foot away from each other.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality: It's a Map episode. Apple Bloom brings up the idea that the Crusaders are the right ponies for whatever friendship problem they were called to solve, but it could have been a little more specific about where they need to go. It takes them a while (and a little guidance from Twilight) to figure out how to fulfill their mission.
    Twilight: The map doesn't really work like that, but I'm sure you and whoever needs help will find each other.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Scootaloo finally finds herself in an environment where she can feel like she's flying.
  • Underwater City: Seaquestria, a seapony city built in an underwater cave beneath Mount Aris. The buildings of the city itself are seemingly made of glass, and hang from the roof of the cave like lanterns.
  • Unreliable Expositor: In Apple Bloom's retelling of the Battle of Canterlot, she claims her sister defeated the Storm King by herself until called on it by Twilight.
  • Vacation Episode: Twilight uses Silverstream's permission slip and chaperoning the Crusaders as excuses to tag along and do "research". Scootaloo hangs a lampshade on it immediately and Twilight can only halfheartedly maintain that she isn't doing a lot of this purely for fun.
  • Vegetarian Carnivore: Averted. The hippogriffs enjoy salmon juice, and Ocean Flow offers Twilight and the Crusaders kelp chips and a cup of fish oil tea. Also a floating picnic table set up by the hippogriffs includes caviar and sushi.
  • Visual Pun: During the song, Scootaloo says "For all intents and porpoises", then high-fins an actual porpoise (well, not really a porpoise but a bottlenose dolphin).
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The hippogriffs all wear fragments of Queen Novo's pearl so they can change into seaponies and back at will.
  • World Building: The hippogriffs' society is shown in more detail, with Harmonizing Heights introduced. A new train line for the Friendship Express has also been constructed, allowing the denizens of Equestria to travel all the way to Mount Aris. The hippogriffs and seaponies are also shown to have a carnivorous (or at least omnivorous) diet, making them the first sapient society in the series that isn't herbivorous or doesn't Eat Dirt, Cheap.

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