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- Just the sight of things going downhill after Twilight restrains everyone's curriculum. The song is brief, but you can feel the life drain from the place once all of her friends are restricted to a standard classroom format. The resulting stress on the students can probably hit home for several viewers.
- While most of the other creatures react with indignation when Neighsay treats them with hostility and they subsequently depart with their respective students, Thorax's reaction is much more resigned. It's a sobering reminder that even with the Changeling Hive's reformation, their old queen and the Wedding Invasion have still left major black marks on the species' reputation. This also indicates that just because the main heroes have forgiven them for their misdeeds, it doesn't mean that anyone ELSE has.
Thorax: It's fine. We know not everypony sees us the way you do. We're used to it.
- Twilight's breakdown after her school gets shut down. She spends much of the time hiding under a pile of pillows in a sobbing mess, and barely responds to her friends' attempts to cheer her up.
- Fluttershy attempts to cheer up Twilight by having Angel hug her. Angel, while initially reluctant, goes through with it, but when it fails, he gets depressed.
- While all the leaders are arguing with each other and threatening to go to war over the missing students, believing that someone is helping them hide, Thorax is the only non-pony against a war since the Changelings can't afford getting involved in one. Then Ember, one of his own friends, gets in his face and accuses him of hiding something from them.
Ember: What are you up to, shapeshifter?
Thorax: (sad) ...But we're friends!
- Chancellor Neighsay's definitely a bit of a flankhole, but he still has Equestria's future in mind even though his way isn't always the right way. You have to wonder just what made him so jaded in the first place. Ponies are usually friendly and open-hearted. So how did he harbor such resentment for the other races to begin with? Just some food for thought.
The Maud Couple
- Pinkie is shocked when she discovers that Mudbriar seems to know things about Maud that she, Maud's own sister, doesn't. When Maud confirms this to be true, Pinkie runs off crying, thinking Maud doesn't need a "Best Sister Friend Forever" anymore. Kind of reminiscent of a parent believing that because their kids are getting older, they don't need a mom or dad anymore.
- Pinkie waking up the next morning and changing her tune from "Good Morning" to "Bad Morning". It's that relatable feeling of waking up with a good attitude, only to remember something bad happened yesterday that downs it.
- Some of the Hidden Depths shown for Limestone are pretty saddening. Beneath her sour and salty exterior, Limestone confesses to being miserable "all the time." Furthermore, her jealously toward Maud getting a boyfriend shows that despite her rough edges, she still has the same emotional needs of any mare and may want a special somepony to be happy with.
Fake It 'Til You Make It
- Fluttershy gets so into her different characters that she begins insulting the customers instead of helping them buy something. She even insults her raccoon friends, first telling them to "go back to the forest" and later calling them "rodents" when they get her friends to help her.
- The whole thing reflects what she (and the audience) have always feared would come from her being assertive: she became so assertive that she turned mean. Thankfully, towards the end, she comes to her senses.
Grannies Gone Wild
- Rainbow Dash being down-hearted at learning the "Wild Blue Yonder" is closing down for good. Anyone who's ever had to ride a beloved roller coaster for the last time will know the feeling too well. And Rainbow Dash hasn't even ridden it before.
- After Rainbow Dash admits to Granny Smith and the others about why she was acting the way she did, she collapses on the ground and sounds like she's about to cry; not only because she thinks she's gonna miss out on riding the Wild Blue Yonder, but also because she feels terrible for ruining the elderly ponies' trip.
Surf and/or Turf
- The main reason why Scootaloo loves Seaquestria is because she thinks swimming around as a seapony must be what flying is like, something she's always dreamed of having, but can never hope to experience.
- Terramar's dilemma is unsettlingly similar to the situation of a child with recently divorced parents (Of course, this being a kid's show, it's not explicitly the case, but his family was split in two.).
- Just the reveal of Terramar's problem. That moment he says his mom is in the other world, it begins to sound too familiar.
- Seeing the CMC temporarily break apart is a bit harsh.
- Not only does their argument hurt their friendship (temporarily), but it also exacerbates Terramar's conflict. And he decides that if they can't make up their minds, neither can he. What's worse, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo are behaving too closely like bickering parents who won't speak to each other.
- Celestia telling Twilight that she wanted to help create plays with her friends as a filly is sad for a couple of reasons. First, Celestia wasn't able to do everything she wanted to when she was young because of her studies consuming her life. Second, this confirms that Celestia did have friends when she was a filly, friends who she had to have watched grow old and die while she lived on.
- Celestia is completely hurt when she overhears Twilight calling her the "worst actress in all of Equestria." But she wasn't upset because Twilight said that she's a bad actor, it's because Twilight, whom Celestia has been a teacher and friend to for years, wasn't honest with her and didn't tell her the truth in the first place.
The Parent Map
- As it turns out, Starlight and Sunburst's parents' respective attitudes towards their kids aren't so much problems as they are byproducts of their kids' dark pasts.
- According to Firelight, he treats Starlight like a filly because he wanted her to feel safe whenever she came to Sire's Hollow, as though it were an earlier familiar time. More specifically he wanted her to feel safe and happy, like she was as a filly, showing again how sad and troubled she was after losing Sunburst.
- Firelight mentions that things were tough for Starlight after she left home, implying that he is aware of the terrible things Starlight did. One can only imagine how devastated he was when he found out what his daughter had done.
- For that matter, the cutaway gag to Starlight's room showing she had an Emo Teen phase is tinged with a bit of Fridge Sadness. Given Firelight's statements, the implied timeline and the presence of broken heart decals, it's not hard to imagine that this was at least partly driven by Sunburst leaving.
- And according to Stellar Flare, Sunburst failing out of magic school left him feeling "lost" afterwards. Anyone who's ever failed out of school or college will know what Sunburst went through all too well.
- This episode likely will hit home to a lot of viewers who likely got into argument with their parents.
- After getting chewed out for his behavior by Starlight, Firelight acts annoyed and rebuffed by it and leaves. When Starlight visits him later, he tries to keep the detatched tone, but quickly breaks down to the point where Starlight hasn't said a word to him before he's silently breaking down crying because he can't hold it back anymore.
- Even more sad when you realize that he's using Starlight's baby blanket to erase his blackboard, symbolizing that his little girl broke his heart.
- It's key to note that he's completely silent when he does cry. It's like he doesn't want Starlight to know that he is crying, especially after the above point. And maybe, it reflects how Passive Aggression can hurt those who say it as much as those they say it to.
- A happy tearjerker: Firelight realizes that he's not just Starlight's parent but could also be viewed as her friend. It's actually quite sweet and almost shy, as though he wants it and is afraid of Starlight rejecting the idea, which makes Starlight's accepting it sweeter.
- Granted the episode has a happy enough ending, the subtext of the episode is pretty depressing. After 8 seasons and one job as teachers later, Applejack and Rainbow Dash still haven't grown beyond their rivalry.
- Yona is scared out of her wits when, after the canoe breaks, she nearly drowns.
The Break Up Breakdown
Marks for Effort
- Twilight accusing the CMC of teaching Cozy Glow the wrong lessons as an act of spite against the school, even though the CMC did absolutely nothing wrong. This especially stings for anyone who has ever been blamed for something they know wasn't their fault.
The Mean 6
- Generally, how the Mean 6 unintentionally trick the Mane 6 (and Starlight) to think they're hurting each other's feelings:
- Mean Applejack making Starlight think the real Applejack equipped her with so much stuff just to make her look ridiculous.
- Even worse, in season 6, Starlight used to worry of what would come of doing something wrong and being ridiculed for it. Well now, thanks to Mean Applejack, her worst fear came true.
- Just the huffing sound Starlight makes as she's frantically taking off the poncho, as though she's having a panic attack, especially when this is apparently the first ever mean thing one of the Mane 6 ever does to her.
- Twilight meets the other Mean 6 clones and, due to their bad attitude towards her, believes the entire camping trip to be a disaster.
- Poor Fluttershy. She encounters a lost bird that got separated from its sibling, and she helps it return to its nest before realizing she got lost. She returns to the nest when she finds herself walking in circles, and all of a sudden all the creatures (including the bird who is now reunited with its sibling) are angry at her, for reasons Fluttershy doesn't understand which makes her dreadfully upset (remember that we're talking about a Shrinking Violet whose very element is Kindness). And it's all because of her malicious copy created by Chrysalis being a big time bully and the animals thinking the fake and the real Fluttershy are the same pony.
- Her getting caught up in an argument between the real Twilight and the real Pinkie Pie.
- Just the fact that, without directly intending it, Queen Chrysalis virtually did succeed in retaliating Starlight on some level (Mean Applejack saying Starlight looks ridiculous and convincing her the camping gear was all just a mean-spirited trick.)
- And sadly enough, she almost destroyed the Mane 6's friendship.
- The Mean Six's fate can come off as this, given while they did a lot of bad things, they were still made to be this way and were just born that day.
A Matter of Principals
- Discord manages to earn Starlight's wrath by calling her incompetent and power hungry. There's even a pause between his insult and her response. It's because Discord deliberately invoked her Dark and Troubled Past, something she never expected him to do as a friend.
- The fact that none of the Mane Six ever saw fit to invite Discord to visit the School of Friendship (not even Fluttershy, his closest friend). While it in no way excuses his actions in this episode, you can't blame him for feeling left out.
The Hearth's Warming Club
- When Gallus confesses to doing the prank, and he tells his friends that he has no family, and felt lost at Griffonstone.
Gallus: I said stop fighting! That's not what the holidays are about, no matter what you call them, or how you celebrate. Do you know how lucky you all are, with your stories about sharing, and kindness, and getting together with every creature that you care about?
- This is notably the closest the show has ever come to full-out addressing the concept of orphanhood.
- Gallus telling his friends to stop fighting can be interpreted as a My God, What Have I Done? moment, where he realizes his plan to not go back to Griffonstone is hurting his dearest friends' friendship.
- Fridge Tearjerker: Gallus is one of the very few griffons seen to have unnatural coat colors. It's possible that Gallus' parents, if he had any, abandoned him because of this.
- This creates further Fridge Tear Jerker for "School Daze"; Gallus willingly begged Grandpa Gruff to stay because there may not be much for him to go home to if he went back to Griffonstone; Twilight's school may be the first place in a while he found anycreature who cared and he didn't want to go back to being alone.
- Gallus' flashback shows Gilda, Gabby and Grandpa Gruff having a holiday dinner, which mainly consists of them glowering at each other. Gilda and Gruff are one thing, but when Gabby looks cross, you know things are bad.
- While they're all arguing over who pulled the prank, Sandbar actively blames Ocellus. Sandbar is usually the most even-tempered and friendly of the group, so seeing him turn on a friend like that really hits hard.
- When they realize that they won't be allowed to go home, Ocellus and even Silverstream are starting to cry.
- The Dragon Lord in Smolder's story did a good deed by giving a young homeless dragon shelter and food. No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, however, and he ends up betrayed and losing everything while the ingrate is laughing at him.
- Twilight feeling hurt and jealous that her biggest mentor Starswirl the Bearded note went to Flim and Flam's "Friendship University". It must've felt awful, like your friend or loved one favoring your rival over you.
The End In Friend
- The premise of the episode, Rarity and Rainbow Dash finding they have so little in common and worrying if they can even remain friends. It feels something like friends growing apart because of differing interests.
- It doesn't help that, due to Twilight's effort to prevent such, both Rainbow Dash and Rarity are unwittingly driven into a feud where they decide they don't want to be friends anymore or ever again. It may not last for long, but it still stings to see Twilight's two friends call it quits after being together for 8 seasons.
- A minor example, but when Rarity sees that Spike was seemingly the one who stole the amulet, she yells "Spikey-wikey!" with a clear tone of shocked disappointment. This is the first time we've heard her use his Affectionate Nickname with any hint of anger. Thankfully the whole situation is cleared up quickly (it was all part of Twilight's test).
- Pinkie is heartbroken when she agrees to stop playing the Yovidaphone and even cries.
- Pinkamena is back. And this time, flowers die and balloons deflate wherever she goes.
On the Road to Friendship
- Trixie's devastation at learning Starlight sold her wagon to Hoof'Far while she slept outside. It may not have been an ideal wagon for carrying two passengers, but it was nonetheless her home.
- Rainbow Dash and Lightning Dust are starting to reconcile and warm up to each other again; they happily talk about their time at the academy and even laugh together. Then they have another falling out and end up as rivals. It's as though cruel fate is making a point that Rainbow Dash and Lightning Dust are destined to be enemies, so long as Lightning Dust remains the sociopath she is.
- Also, Scootaloo admitting to Rainbow Dash why she's grown tired of being Rainbow's fan: she believes that Rainbow blindly wants her to be just like her, even though Scootaloo can never fly like her.
- Scootaloo even outright screams at Dash "Because I CAN'T FLY!!!" This confirms that by this time, Scootaloo had completely given up on the idea of her ever being able to fly.
- Not a few episodes ago, in "Surf and/or Turf", Scootaloo was keen on the second-hand feeling of flying (just like always whenever she gets the chance). Somewhere between then and now, she must've decided reality would never let her fly.
- Scootaloo's admission to Rainbow Dash that Lightning Dust was no pony worth looking up to. It's one thing if Lightning had a past as a Wonderbolt Washout, she would've looked past that. But she's clearly uncomfortable and disappointed how she looked up to some pony who would rather see innocent little Scootaloo hurt or crippled than give a less-than-stellar performance to an audience of strangers.
A Rockhoof and a Hard Place
- When Rockhoof sees the fire in the school, we see the first thing coming to his mind is the volcano eruption. It must have really scarred him despite being brave at the time. And remember, it was a thousand years for Equestria, but he to him, time stood still, so the memory is still fresh.
- Rockhoof feeling hopeless in that he can't go back and do a job at home, he can't do his old job, adapt his skills to a new job and he's having trouble doing something completely different. He feels so upset he asks Twilight to perform a spell to turn him to stone. Ouch...
- Yona's not much better off. When she hears Rockhoof was going to turn to stone, she's crushed, despite not knowing him for very long. Someone hug this little sweetheart already!
What Lies Beneath
- What Cozy Glow says to the Young Six and saying their friendship isn't going to last, and they believe her every word.
- It's even harder for Gallus when you take into consideration he's an orphan. To him, the others aren't just his friends, they're the only family he has. The way he sees it, Cozy may as well have told him his days of having a family and a home were numbered.
- Silverstream and Ocellus suffer memories of the Storm King and the Changelings' old ways respectively. Especially heartbreaking for Ocellus who believes she looks hideous as Queen Chrysalis.
Sounds of Silence
- Just the fact alone that the Kirin are so terrified of hurting each other's feelings that they'd resort to such extreme measures to avoid talking altogether.
- And then it's revealed that their reason for doing so is that an argument broke out between two Kirin that quickly spread to the rest of the village, leading to its accidental destruction. So they took a vow of silence to make sure that something like that never happened again.
- Autumn Blaze getting evicted from her village all because she chose to keep her voice.
- Due to having spent years in isolation, Autumn Blaze has become quite clingy and desperate for contact, even going a far as to paint faces on vegetable baskets and even naming her own shadow just to have someone to talk to.
- Towards the end of "A Kirin Tale", Autumn Blaze sheds a single tear, saddened that her fellow Kirin have refused to see how empty a life without emotions is.
- A blink-and-you'll-miss moment. When the Kirin are moments from throwing Applejack and Fluttershy into the Stream of Silence, they clearly have an expression of remorse, as though genuinely conflicted about forcing another creature to join in their Vow of Silence. Deep down, they don't really want to go through with it, but they feel this is the only way to preserve the "peace and serenity".
- After saving Applejack and Fluttershy, Autumn Blaze reminds the other Kirin that they used to be happy before the vow of silence. The other kirin are speechless (figuratively as well as literally), sadly recalling what they sacrificed for peace.
Father Knows Beast
- When Twilight tries to warn Spike that perhaps Sludge doesn't have the young dragon's best interest at heart, Spike tells Twilight that she's only saying that because she doesn't like that Spike has a "real parent" in his life now. An x-ray shows Twilight's heart literally breaking upon hearing those words.
- Spike believes that he is reunited with his father but he learns the hard way that he has fallen for a greedy selfish swindler who never cared about him.
- Granted it's all just Blatant Lies, Sludge's story of how Spike's mom went away is sad in itself, because she's long gone wherever she is. Even if Sludge had been telling the truth, either way, there's a likely chance Spike will never see his biological mother.