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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S8 E9 "Non-Compete Clause"

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Right hoof versus left hoof. (And another hard-earned paycheck for Ashleigh Ball.)

Written by Kim Beyer-Johnson
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Fluttershy wins another Teacher of the Month award at Twilight's school, as voted by the students, frustrating Applejack and Rainbow Dash. Twilight suggests that the school run a field trip, and both AJ and Dash jump at the chance to lead it, hoping this will put them in good with the students to get the award the next month. Twilight agrees to let them both run it as long as they work together on it.

As the students gather, both AJ and Dash realize they have different ideas of what to do; AJ wants the students to practice building a shed together, while Dash wants them to go canoeing and break a speed record. During shed building, AJ has the students work carefully, but Dash wants to rush it, making a hastily-built shed that falls apart as soon as they try to put a roof on it. They move on to canoeing, where Dash wants them to paddle as fast as they can tiring the students out, while AJ suggests a more paced approach. Eventually, they get their act together and start paddling down a river. As they approach the finish line with the record still in sight, Dash tells the students to paddle the boat towards the left of a large rock, straight into a school of bite-acuda fish. AJ tells the students to go to the right, the longer route but avoiding the fish. As AJ and Dash argue, the boat runs straight into the rock. Everyone is safe due to their safety equipment, but Yona's lifejacket gets stuck on a branch and tears off her, and she cannot swim. Silverstream and a transformed Ocellus rescue her as everyone makes it to shore, just as Twilight comes along to ask how the field trip is going.

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Twilight chews out AJ and Dash for being too competitive and not working together, and decides to take over the field trip. Luckily, AJ and Dash are able to convince her that they acknowledge the leadership each of them displayed through the day. Now convinced, Twilight begrudgingly gives them another chance, but tells them that their next activity will be a nature walk, something that neither of them can screw up before she leaves. AJ and Dash lead the students, overtly making sure they agree with each other at every branch of the path, which annoys the students. This ends up getting them lost among the woods outside of town, and with the day nearly over, Gallus finds they only have to cross one ravine to get back to Ponyville. AJ and Dash agree that they have to build a bridge to cross the ravine, but AJ wants to do it out of vines , while Dash wants to make it from sticks. They feign agreement while they each build a rather unsteady bridge across the ravine. Still feigning their agreement, they get into an argument and end up causing both bridges to fall on each other, trapping the two in a cage-like ball hanging precariously over the river where the bite-acudas are waiting. The students work together to rescue AJ and Dash, with Ocellus distracting the bite-acudas long enough for the others to pull the cage up to safety.

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Eventually they get back to the school where Twilight is waiting for them. The students tell Twilight that both AJ and Dash were good teachers as their competitive and indecisive nature taught them how they can work together better to get around those problems, and want to consider them for the next teacher of the month award. As the students leave, AJ and Dash get into another argument about who did better during the field trip, and Twilight leaves the two to stew for a bit.


Tropes:

  • Accidental Aesop: In-Universe. The students all think that everything Rainbow and Applejack did was part of their lesson of how important teamwork is, by showing them how not to work together.
  • Adult Fear: A student of yours (almost) drowns on your watch, especially because of negligence.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Discussed. Rainbow and Applejack once again compete with each other over winning a competition at the cost of others instead of working together. Twilight points out that she "thought [they] were past this" when she sees how bad it's going. Even after being shown the error of their ways and seemingly getting the point about the pitfalls of excessive competition, Dash and AJ are right back to arguing with each other at the end of the episode, making it doubtful that the moral actually stuck with them.
  • Anti-Mentor: Both Applejack and Rainbow Dash utterly fail at showing the students how to cooperate like they were supposed to due to their competitive nature. Lucky for them, the students interpreted their bickering as them showing how not to be cooperative, though Twilight knew what the case truly was.
  • Apple of Discord: The Teacher of the Month award, which Fluttershy consistently wins without trying and which Applejack and Rainbow Dash desperately want to win.
  • Artistic License – Physics: During the canoe race, everycreature is paddling on the same side. This would cause the boat to just go in circles, not forward as in the episode.
  • By Wall That Is Holey: Sandbar is saved from being crushed by the falling shed wall only because its door hasn't been installed yet.
  • Call-Back: This isn't the first time Applejack and Rainbow Dash compete with each other... and then lose.
  • Commander Contrarian: Applejack and Rainbow Dash share this role as they try to win Teacher of the Month on the field trip. Visually demonstrated when they have the students rowing against each other in the kayak.
  • Compressed Vice: The competition between Applejack and Rainbow Dash has always been friendly throughout the series, even back in "Fall Weather Friends". In this episode, it becomes more hostile because of their desire to win Teacher of the Month.
  • Continuity Nod: Yona stomps on the branches trapping Rainbow and Applejack in the same manner as the other yaks seen during their festival.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Smolder, when Applejack and Rainbow Dash argue over who'll be the next Teacher of the Month in front of the students.
    Smolder: Yeah... This isn't awkward at all...
  • Double Take: Silverstream when Applejack and Rainbow Dash give the canoe team contradictory directions.
    Ocellus: Which way do we go?
    Rainbow Dash: Left!
    Applejack: Right!
    Silverstream: Aye-aye, captains! ...Wait, what?
  • Feud Episode: The episode centers on Applejack and Rainbow Dash's attempts to teach the students being ruined by their competitiveness.
  • Finger Muzzle: Rainbow Dash puts her hoof over Applejack's mouth before she can finish asking Twilight if they can have another chance at Teacher of the Month (quickly amending it to "the field trip").
  • Flying Seafood Special: While the bite-acudas normally stay in the water like regular fish, they have bat-like wings instead of fins and — at least in the case of changelings taking their form — are capable of powered flight.
  • Going in Circles: Sandbar notices that they pass the same vine-covered rock several times on the nature walk.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Both Applejack and Rainbow Dash are jealous of Fluttershy winning Teacher of the Month again.
    Fluttershy: Oh, my! I don't know how I keep winning.
    Rainbow Dash: [bitterly] Yeah. Me, neither.
  • Here We Go Again!: The episode ends with Applejack and Rainbow Dash arguing with each other over who's better, yet again.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: When Ocellus flies up to Applejack and Rainbow Dash as a giant flying bite-acuda, Applejack quips that she "nearly scared the cutie marks off [them]!"
  • Hope Spot:
    • Early on, it seemed like Rainbow Dash and Applejack are making up on each other's behalves... only for it to be still thinly veiled competition.
    • When Rainbow and Applejack get trapped in the debris of their own bridges, AJ fashions one of the vines into a lasso, and it looks like she can use it to pull them to safety. Then the lasso proves too short to reach the target — then as it dangles over the water, a bite-acuda eats the end of it.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: After the students rescue their teachers, Gallus confidently claims that the bite-acudas "weren't even a thing", then gets scared by Ocellus, who is still in her giant bite-acuda form.
  • "Just Joking" Justification: Gallus invokes this after suggesting the students leave the trapped Applejack and Rainbow Dash hanging.
    Gallus: I'm kidding! ...Kinda.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: After Fluttershy suggested that Applejack and Rainbow Dash do the field trip together.
    Twilight Sparkle: Of course! Who better to model the importance of working as a team?
    Pinkie Pie: Ummm... Rarity, Fluttershy, me, Spike, this flower pot.
  • Literal-Minded:
    • When Twilight suggests adding together two lesson plan ideas, Pinkie goes straight to Applied Mathematics (and gets the right arithmetic answer).
    • Yona and Silverstream think that a "field trip" means tripping while on a field instead of going somewhere.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The bite-acudas, fish with bat wings.
  • Mood Whiplash: The canoe crashes, leaving the Student 6, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack in the river. First comes Silverstream's excited "I love field trips!", followed by Yona almost drowning until Silverstream and Ocellus save her.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The bite-acudas, having huge mouths chock-full of vicious fangs.
  • Morphic Resonance: Ocellus keeps her colors when she transforms into a seapony and a bite-acuda. The only major change shows up in her eyes when she becomes a seapony: they look like a pony's eyes, in a darker shade of her natural blue-green.
  • Mythology Gag: Ocellus and Silverstream turning into seaponies to rescue Yona is a Shout-Out to the scene in Rescue at Midnight Castle where seaponies save Megan and Applejack from drowning (just without the musical number).
  • Not Bad: Gallus's opinion of the apple shed Rainbow builds.
    Gallus: Impressive... if you can call an apple shed impressive.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: The Young Six's reaction when Applejack and Rainbow Dash resume bickering in the second act.
    Smolder: (Face Palms) Here we go again!
  • Outhumbling Each Other: After Twilight points out how their competitiveness is disrupting the field trip, Applejack and Rainbow Dash swing too far in the other direction—each insisting that the other make important decisions, in a bid to prove that they're better at teamwork. This proves to be just as disruptive as their earlier straightforward competition.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: After being scolded by Twilight, Rainbow and Applejack become a little too polite, refusing to budge without the other one agreeing.
  • Piranha Problem: The bite-acudas are visually reminiscent of piranhas, being stout-bodied, river-dwelling carnivorous fish. As is typical for fictional piranhas, they're depicted as highly aggressive, voraciously carnivorous bundles of sharp teeth and bad attitudes waiting to devour anyone and anything that falls in the water with them.
  • Reveal Shot: When the canoe trip begins, the camera zooms in on the front of the canoe, then the back — before pulling out to reveal that the two sides are paddling opposite directions, and the canoe isn't moving.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: Fluttershy and Twilight suggesting that Rainbow Dash and Applejack lead a field trip together brings out Pinkie's inner Deadpan Snarker.
    Princess Twilight: Who better to model the importance of working as a team?
    Pinkie Pie: Um, Rarity, Fluttershy, me, Spike, this flower pot...
  • Right Hand vs. Left Hand: Rainbow and Applejack keep trying to better their students, but their infighting keeps making the field trip perpetually worse. At one point, they end up having their students attempting to row a canoe in opposite directions.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: A variant without doors, done by Rainbow, Applejack and the students while lost in the forest.
  • Shout-Out: The mass of vines and branches Dash and AJ get caught in when their bridges collapse from under them is reminiscent of the hanging ball prison from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: During the Cold Open, both Applejack and Rainbow Dash are convinced they will win "Teacher of the Month", despite the fact that (as revealed moments later), Fluttershy has won the award every time so far.
  • Snark Ball: Quite capably fielded by Pinkie Pie when Twilight asked who would be better than AJ and Dash to teach a lesson on teamwork. You've read the quote twice already.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: When the teachers and students come to a chasm, Rainbow and Applejack insist on trying to build a bridge. Gallus points out that they have enough flyers there that they can simply fly everyone over the gap, but Rainbow and Applejack refuse to go with the idea.
  • Stripping Snag: Played for drama when Yona's life jacket gets snagged on a branch and tears off, causing her to nearly drown.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: In a rather literal sense, the students deal with the bite-acudas by having Ocellus transform into a much bigger bite-acuda and chase them away.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Yona sinks like a stone when she gets into water and her lifejacket rips off, since she can't swim. Luckily, Ocellus and Silverstream both transform into seaponies to save her.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: At the end, the students believe that Rainbow and Applejack pulled off a Failure Gambit by intentionally doing badly in order to make the students cooperate. Rainbow and Applejack don't dismiss the idea in front of their students, though they admit the truth as soon as they're alone with Twilight.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • After deciding to make both Applejack and Rainbow Dash leaders of the field trip, Twilight acknowledges that they've been competitive in the past, but adds that she's sure they won't let that get in the way of friendship education. She's entirely wrong.
    • After Rainbow causes the apple shed to collapse, Yona notes that the "yak side" is still standing... and accidentally knocks it over.
    • After scolding Rainbow and Applejack, Twilight has them take the class on a nature walk, believing that they couldn't possibly argue over that. They do end up arguing, albeit with Passive-Aggressive Kombat.
  • Time Skip: Fluttershy winning the "Teacher of the Month" award for the ninth time in the row reveals that it's been 9 months since Twilight opened her Friendship School.
  • Two Roads Before You: During the canoe trip, a rock formation splits the river in two. Rainbow Dash says to take the left path because it's quicker; Applejack says to take the right path because it's safer. The students don't know which teacher to follow, and AJ and Rainbow keep arguing until the canoe crashes right into the rock.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: When Applejack and Rainbow Dash are arguing over who should lead the field trip, Fluttershy suggests they should lead it together, which Twilight agrees with, thereby setting the events of the episode in motion.
  • Use Your Head: When Applejack and Rainbow Dash end up stuck in the gap between two trees, Yona (with a little prompting from Gallus), frees them with a headbutt.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Hearing Ocellus's soft, feminine voice coming from her big, fanged bite-acuda form is rather hilarious.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Twilight chews out both Applejack and Rainbow Dash for being competitive with each other instead of teaching the field trip.

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