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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S9 E11 "Student Counsel"

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"My door is always open!" (Probably...)
Written by Josh Haber
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It is near the Spring Solstice, and Twilight and her friends have gone to Canterlot to participate in events there. Starlight Glimmer has stayed behind to help make sure the students all get to leave in time for spring break, but because there's no other teachers, all the students are coming to her for advice as the student counselor. Because of the influx, Starlight has enchanted a bracelet to respond whenever anypony knocks on her door, allowing her to teleport to her office on the spot.

However, Trixie arrives, reminding her about their own Spring Solstice party that is going to be hosted by Maud and Mudbriar. There are a number of preparations they need to do, including getting various party decorations and learning how to make a special cake from Mrs. Cake, but the constant interruptions from the students forces Starlight to keep returning to her office. This leaves Trixie having to do most of the work itself, which annoys her so much that she barges into Starlight's office to demand that she take off the bracelet and make time to help with the party and herself. Despite students, including Silverstream, still trying to get advice, Starlight takes Trixie's suggestion and takes herself off duty. She declares the school closed, sending all the students to their homes.

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The Solstice party is seemingly going okay, but the lack of Starlight's efforts into the preparation leaves it less than the effort that a Pinkie party would be. Suddenly, Terramar arrives (he was told to find Starlight there). Terramar tells them that Silverstream never arrived home when she was scheduled to, and the hippogriffs are searching the lands for her, while he was assigned to check the school. Starlight goes with Terramar, and finds that Silverstream was studying about cockatrices in the Everfree Forest. Fearing that she might have gone there and gotten turned to stone, Starlight, Trixie, Sunburst, Maud, Mudbriar, and Terramar set off to the Everfree Forest to search.

After getting turned around a few times, they finally encounter the nesting grounds of the cockatrices, but they find no sign of Silverstream. They are suddenly set on by the cockatrices, and the group scatters. After getting herself to safety, Starlight teleports to rescue all the others, but it is too late for Mudbriar, who has been petrified already. With cockatrices still attacking, the group takes shelter in the Castle of the Two Sisters. Starlight laments about the situation being her own fault when Trixie asks about the Treehouse of Harmony. Realizing that was the first place they should have searched, they enter and find Silverstream appearing to be attacked by a cockatrice. But it turns out that Silverstream has tamed and befriended the cockatrice, which she has named Edith, as part of an assignment that Twilight had given her before the spring break. Edith unpetrifies Mudbriar, and the group returns back to Maud's home. Starlight realizes she can't be available for her students all the time, but Silverstream also realizes that it wasn't fair to Starlight for them to come to her with any silly old question, and they agree that having set office hours would be better for all.

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Tropes:

  • An Aesop:
    • You shouldn't devote your entire life to your job, no matter how important you think it is. You need to make time for yourself, too.
    • Your teachers and mentors have lives and responsibilities outside of their job. Expecting them to be able to help you with every minor problem is not fair on them, so respect their boundaries and make your time with them count.
  • Artistic License – Space: The "Spring Solstice" being celebrated by the main characters doesn't exist — a solstice occurs when either the day or night reaches its maximum length and only happens in winter and summer; the correct term is "Spring Equinox". Oddly enough, Starlight uses "Equinox" twice during the montage of her teleporting between her party preparations and her Counselor office. Whether this was an intended consequence of her stress or a slip-up on the part of the script writer or voice actor is up in the air.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Throughout the episode, Trixie butts heads with Starlight for never setting aside time for themselves in favor of her counselor work. While Trixie's point seems to be proven when her students' problems are shown to be mostly trivial, Starlight is also proven right when the last student she walks away from has an actual problem. In the end, they balance their viewpoints by coming up with a more solid schedule.
  • Brutal Honesty: After Starlight suggests set times for Silverstream to talk with her, Silverstream bluntly admits that Starlight wasn't really much help with her other problems.
  • Buffy Speak: During a rant, an upset Starlight Glimmer calls the cockatrices "a flock of chicken-snakes".
  • The Bus Came Back: Terramar and Mudbriar, both seemingly one-off characters, make a return appearance.
  • Call-Back: The cockatrices get an antagonistic role for the first time since their species debut in "Stare Master".
  • Character Development: In contrast with his previous major appearance, Mudbriar is much less oblivious regarding how his Literal-Minded nature can annoy others, resulting in a few moments of Verbal Backspace.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Crying Wolf: A more innocent example. Silverstream wants Starlight to advise on every detail of explaining surface concepts like showers, wetness and dryness to her family on a trip home that she could research on her own. Thus, when coming to Starlight for actual help she needs towards finishing her school project, she's finally turned away as Starlight puts her hoof down on taking personal time.
  • Death Glare:
    • Starlight is on the receiving end of these from Trixie.
    • The pony trying to get a talk with the school counselor is given a baleful glare from Trixie, and he promptly gives it up.
    • Mudbriar gets a few from Trixie when his over-correcting gets on her nerves. Mudbriar responds by quickly closing his mouth.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Instead of being anywhere near negatively affected by it, Mudbriar says that his experience of being turned into stone made him appreciate rocks more.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: After Silverstream goes missing, none of the other characters, even Maud, are in the mood for Mudbriar's usual over-correcting responses and just silently look at him with unamused or angry looks. Mudbriar quickly catches on to this and corrects himself.
  • Exact Words: Since Starlight made it her policy to be "always" available for the students, this encouraged them to come to her with many matters that honestly didn't actually require her advice, such as Silverstream repeatedly coming to her for trivial matters like how to describe the concept of being wet to her cousins, who have never been out of the water.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Starlight doesn't even notice the Treehouse of Harmony when she and her group arrive at the Castle of the Two Sisters until Trixie points it out. Once Trixie does, Starlight comments that it's the first place they should have looked.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: Sunburst and Maud raise their eyebrows in annoyance when Mudbriar points out the "flowering sticks" just have the flowers glued on.
  • Fluffy Tamer: Silverstream figured out how to interact with cockatrices and now has a friend/pet cockatrice named Edith.
  • Foreshadowing: During Starlight's counseling session, Silverstream talks about having to work on a project in the Everfree Forest. Turns out the project is on cockatrices.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Downplayed. While the other members of the rescue party (Starlight, Terramar, Sunburst, Trixie, and Maud) are visibly annoyed by Mudbriar's over-correcting, they don't hate him in any way, especially his girlfriend Maud.
  • Friend to All Living Things: While not at Fluttershy's level, Silverstream demonstrates her ability to make friends with dangerous creatures when she befriends and names a cockatrice.
  • Going in Circles: In the Everfree Forest, the search party is quickly seen passing over and over on the same spots, from trusting Trixie to know where she was going, while from her own admission she was winging it.
  • I Gave My Word: Trixie insists on she and Starlight baking a cake for Maud's party, rather than buying one, because "the Great and Powerful Trixie always keeps her promises".
  • Innocently Insensitive: It is shown that Mudbriar does not realize his tendency to correct everything can be annoying for others. When pointed out, he quickly corrects himself.
  • It's All My Fault: Starlight blames herself for Silverstream's disappearance because she wasn't there to answer Silverstream's questions. While Trixie shoulders some of the blame for pressuring her into taking a break, the others point out that it isn't Starlight's fault; Silverstream's project is her own responsibility, and Starlight has to take time for herself.
  • Irony: When Starlight's job as Student Guidance Counselor was first given focus in "Marks for Effort", she was complaining about having no one who needed help and too much free time. Now she is constantly busy helping students, and has almost no free time for her friends.
  • Jeweler's Eye Loupe: As a quick visual gag, Mudbriar is seen examining a stick with an eye loupe as they traipse through the Everfree Forest.
  • Large Ham: Trixie, in top form, after Starlight suggests buying a cake from Mrs Cake instead of making one with her, especially all the effort she apparently went to in order to get the secret recipe from Mrs Cake in the first place.
    Trixie: We could... but then we’d miss out on baking together! Plus the time I spent flattering and convincing and begging her to share the recipe would be for nothing! And we promised to make a cake, not buy a cake, and the Great and Powerful Trrrrrrixie keeps her promises!
  • Language Equals Thought: Because her younger cousins have lived underwater their whole lives and chose to stay there, Silverstream is having difficulty finding words to describe taking a shower to her seapony cousins that doesn't include "water" or "wet". She later has difficulty coming up with words to describe a towel and asks for help with synonyms for "dry" and explaining the concept.
  • Lethal Chef: The cake that Starlight and Trixie bake is pointy, jagged, crooked and hard enough for the metal utensils to bend on contact. Sunburst points out that the cake isn't supposed to be sharp.
  • Lightswitch Surprise: Trixie pulls this on Starlight, getting so fed up with Starlight skipping out on preparations for the party that she summons Starlight to her office with the lights out, surprising Starlight when she turns the lights on to find Trixie sitting on the couch glaring daggers at her.
    Starlight: Trixie? What are you doing here?
    Trixie: It's the one place I knew I could find you!
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Starlight and Trixie, throughout the first half of the episode, basically behave this way. Especially when they're going to pick up supplies for a gathering they were invited to, arguing whose job it is to get what, upset that one half of the pair wants to "cheat" and just buy a cake instead of making one with their partner. The above Lightswitch Surprise mirrors the Caught Coming Home Late trope.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Trixie is surprised by the Treehouse of Harmony being in the ruins of the Castle of the Two Sisters, requiring Starlight to quickly catch her up on current events.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: Another episode where none of the Mane Six appear, focusing on Starlight and her friends. They are later joined by Terramar and try to find Silverstream.
  • Married to the Job: Starlight is so devoted to being a good counselor that she attaches a bracelet to her leg and teleports back to her office anytime someone knocks on the door. It gets so bad that a big day of shopping Starlight planned with Trixie ends up ruined when Starlight keeps teleporting away. By the time Starlight is finally finished, Trixie's already done everything by herself.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Starlight believes she may have caused this when she told Silverstream to go solve her own problems. In reality, Silverstream is more guilty of this, due to staying to finish her project before going home without telling anyone and as a result causing everyone to panic over her.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Starlight, Trixie, Sunburst, Terramar and Silverstream are not happy when they find out Mudbriar was turned into stone. Maud, on the other hand, gets even more attracted to him.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Edith, the cockatrice Silverstream befriends and tames, stands out from the other cockatrices in having purple scales and a longer head crest.
  • No Sense of Direction: Trixie guides the group all around the Everfree Forest, but ends up leading them to right back where they started. Starlight even lampshades how they've gone in circles.
  • Obligatory Joke:
    • Maud just has to make a pun about Mudbriar being turned into a "hunk" of rock.
    • Sunburst can't resist commenting on Mudbriar's stony personality after he's returned to normal.
  • Palette Swap: Edith's scales are purple to contrast her from the rest of her wild brethren.
  • Poor Communication Kills: If Silverstream had just sent her parents a note saying she might be a bit late getting home and that she was staying in the treehouse until her project was done, none of this would have happened.
  • Pun: Maud is on fine form this episode.
    • Her Spring Solstice party is called the "Spring Solst-astic".
    • When Starlight laments ruining Maud's party, Maud responds that they can still have a party... a search party.
  • Running Gag: Nopony having any idea what the "flowering sticks" Mudbriar requested for the party are.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: When Mudbriar admits that being Taken for Granite has given him a greater appreciation for rocks, Maud responds with a deadpan but genuine "Swoon".
  • Shonen Hair: Played with. Edith's red chicken comb is jagged and clipped in areas to further differentiate her from other cockatrices.
  • Skewed Priorities:
    • As the group search the Everfree Forest, Mudbriar takes a moment to examine a random twig.
    • After Mudbriar is turned to stone, Maud seems more attracted to him than before because he's now a rock. This is instead of being sad or concerned that her boyfriend has effectively been killed. She does, however, request that Mudbriar be turned back to normal.
  • Taken for Granite: When the rescue team is attacked by cockatrices, an unfortunate Mudbriar is turned to stone. Maud finds this a very intriguing change.
  • Teleport Spam: Starlight has gotten much faster at teleporting and uses her skills to repeatedly rescue her friends and escape the cockatrices. She also spends most of the episode's first half teleporting back and forth from her office, often several times during a single conversation, much to Trixie's annoyance. She then teleports all over the School of Friendship to look for Silverstream, and then several more times in the Everfree Forest to escape the cockatrices and pull her friends to safety. In fact, this episode probably holds the record for number of teleportations, with one fan counting a total of 43.
  • Tempting Fate: Upon discovering a flock of cockatrices, Trixie comments that it's a good thing they're far away from the group. A snarl from behind tells Starlight and the others that a bunch of cockatrices are right behind them. Trixie warns Mudbriar not to say a world.
  • Token Heroic Orc: Edith is the only friendly cockatrice seen in the series, volunteering to help Silverstream finish her project and returning Mudbriar to normal for everyone, though Silverstream says that all cockatrices can be friendly if you know how to interact with them.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Mudbriar is much more caring and semi-self aware about how his way of speaking annoys others now. In his debut appearance he refused to apologize for speaking with precision even when it was clear Pinkie was annoyed by it. Now, when it is clear that everyone else, including Maud, is not in the mood for his over-correcting he quickly corrects himself to avoid making everyone mad.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • Silverstream overestimates herself and decides to stay behind to finish her report without informing anyone, let alone her family thinking that she can be a bit late without anyone noticing instead of taking the scheduled train home. She loses track of time and thus ends up very late. Her family proceeds to panic over her disappearance while getting the entire country of Mt. Aris to search Equestria and the surrounding lands for her.
    • Twilight has a young student, an international one no less, study and write a report on cockatrices in the Everfree Forest (admittedly she did not tell Silverstream to actually go and search for them). This leads to the events of the latter half of the episode.
  • Watch Out for That Tree!: Sunburst is fleeing in the Everfree Forest with his eyes closed because he's pursued by a cockatrice; naturally, he gallops straight into a tree.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Trixie spends most of the first act upset at Starlight for letting her job prevent her from spending time with her friends, forgetting about all their plans together, and forcing her to gather all the party materials herself.
    • Terramar angrily asks Starlight what kind of counselor turns away a student with a problem, after Starlight mentions how she didn't listen to Silverstream earlier that day. Trixie fires back in Starlight's defense that she has already gone out of her way to help every other student, and has been too busy because of it to do anything else.
  • Worldbuilding: We finally get to see a proper interior view of the Treehouse of Harmony after only having seen the exterior and the balcony in previous episodes.
  • Written-In Absence: None of the Mane Six or Spike appear in this episode since they are participating in events at Canterlot for the Spring Solstice.

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