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[knocking on door]
Mail Pony: [sighs]
[knocking on door]
[pounding on door]
[door opens]
Mail Pony: [clears throat] Morning, Sunburst.
Sunburst: What? Oh! Hi! [chuckles nervously] You know, no matter how many times I read it, Houyhnhnm's Guide to Magical Arcana never gets boring.
Mail Pony: If you say so. I've got another letter for you. From Sire's Hollow.
Sunburst: Mm-hmm. Sure thing.
[door closes]
Mail Pony: [groans]
[thud]
[shimmering sounds]
Sunburst: What's this? Could I be experiencing the cerebration transmogrification effect described in chapter seventeen—?
[thud]
Sunburst: Oh. My cutie mark is glowing. My cutie mark is glowing! I know what this means! Why am I yelling?!
[theme song]
Sunburst: Princess Twilight, what an honor this is! I-I mean, it is, right? I'm called for a friendship mission?
Twilight Sparkle: You sure are. And it must be a special one. Nopony outside of Ponyville has ever been called before.
Spike: If you need some pointers, let me know. I've been on my fair share of missions.
Twilight Sparkle: You've been on one, Spike.
Spike: And that's my fair share.
[door opens]
Sunburst: Starlight! You mean we've both been called? This is great!
Starlight Glimmer: [depressed] Yeah... Great...
Sunburst: Aren't you excited? You and me on a mission together!
Starlight Glimmer: [groans]
Sunburst: I'm... sorry. Are you not excited to go on a mission with me?
Starlight Glimmer: No. Uh, no! I mean, yes. Heh. Totally excited about us going together. Just... not so excited about where.
Sunburst: Sire's Hollow?
Starlight Glimmer: Yep. Home.
Sunburst: [deflated] Oh. Great.
Spike: You know, I can go if you two don't want to. I am kind of an expert.
Twilight Sparkle, Starlight Glimmer, and Sunburst: [groans]
[train chugging]
[indistinct conversations]
Starlight Glimmer: [sighs] It's not that I don't want to go home. It's just that whenever I do, my dad treats me like a filly. Like nothing's changed since I was a foal.
Sunburst: Huh.
Starlight Glimmer: I know. I'm a horrible daughter.
Sunburst: N-No, no! My mom actually does kind of the same thing.
Starlight Glimmer: Really?
Sunburst: I don't even have to go home. She sends me letters constantly asking about my plans for the future. [imitating Stellar Flare] "You're a grown-up pony, Sunburst! You need a plan!" [sighs] I haven't been home in a while either.
Starlight Glimmer: Hmph. We'll just have to explain to our parents that we're on an important friendship mission so they can't bother us.
Sunburst: Do you really think that will work?
Starlight Glimmer: Nope!
[brakes hissing]
[train whistle]
[train chugging]
Sunburst: [sniffs, sighs] The great thing about home is it always stays just how you le—
[thud]
Sunburst: Augh!
Starlight Glimmer: Where did that come from?
[gate creaking]
Automated voice: Welcome to Sire's Hollow!
"Ever Essence": Essence?
Sunburst: Essence of what?
"Ever Essence": You tell me.
[spritz]
Sunburst: [coughing]
Starlight Glimmer: What is it?
Sunburst: Uh... chocolate maybe?
"Ever Essence": Not chocolate maybe. Chocolate definitely! And all of the benefits with none of the drawbacks.
Sunburst: Didn't this used to be a fruit stand?
"Ever Essence": I don't know what it used to be. The Sire's Hollow Development Committee determined what it is.
Sunburst: The Sire's Hollow Development what? Where do ponies buy fruit?
"Ever Essence": You can get a fruit smoothie two doors down.
Sunburst: All the shops are different. Everything's changed!
Starlight Glimmer: Not everything. That's the same as it ever was.
[door opens]
"Raspberry Latte": Sorry. Our bookstore's been declared a site of historical significance by the Sire's Hollow Preservation Society.
"Minty Mocha": You'll have to experience the books from here. That's why windows are see-through.
[door slams]
Sunburst: What?!
Starlight Glimmer: Preservation Society? What is happening around here?
Firelight: I'll explain it to you, sugarplum! [chuckles] You are just as cutesy-wutesy as ever!
Starlight Glimmer: [muffled] Dad! [normally] Quit it! What is going on?
Firelight: Oh, just a father wanting to preserve our town's rich history for his little pumpky-wumpkin! [chuckles]
Starlight Glimmer: Dad, you promised no "pumpky-wumpkin"'s in public!
Sunburst: [stifled laughter]
Firelight: [whispering] Sorry, chipmunk cheeks.
[smack!]
Starlight Glimmer: Don't. You're preserving the whole town? That's crazy!
Stellar Flare: That's exactly what I told him! I said, "Firelight, you're crazy!"
Sunburst: Mom?
Stellar Flare: Our village needs the same thing you do, Sunburst – a clear plan for the future.
[snip!]
Stellar Flare: That's why I started the Sire's Hollow Development Committee. And I've got plans for this little town. Big plans!
Firelight: Listen here, Stellar Flare! I'm not gonna let you turn our historical heritage into Las Pegasus!
Stellar Flare: And I'm not gonna let you turn it into a museum!
Firelight and Stellar Flare: [growling]
Starlight Glimmer: W-Wait. Are you two fighting over this?
Sunburst: Like having a friendship problem?
Stellar Flare: Oh, there's no problem.
Firelight: Because there is no friendship!
Sunburst: Well, the good news is we know why we're here.
Starlight Glimmer: [huffs]
Sunburst: [sighs] Maybe we should've sent Spike after all.
Starlight Glimmer: [sighs]
[magic sounds]
Starlight Glimmer: Sunburst and I were called here to do a job, and it looks like you two are it.
Stellar Flare: You mean your success depends on us?
Sunburst: Uh...
Firelight: And you have to hang out with us the whole time you're here?!
Starlight Glimmer: Um...
Stellar Flare: Well, I'll hear what you have to say. But every plan I've made for this town is perfectly reasonable.
Firelight: Good luck convincing me my preservation efforts don't make sense.
Starlight Glimmer and Sunburst: [sighs]
[gate creaking]
Automated voice: Welcome to Sire's Hollow!
Starlight Glimmer: So we can't hold the books?
"Raspberry Latte": [laughing] No!
Sunburst: Can you hold the books?
"Minty Mocha": No.
Starlight Glimmer: So nopony can read the books?
Firelight: [chuckles] Isn't she adorable? [chuckles]
[gate clanking]
Automated voice: Welcome to Sire's Hollow!
"Ever Essence": You can call them... mm... "smells". But I call them essence!
[spritz]
Sunburst: [coughing]
Starlight Glimmer: [sniffs] Fruity.
Sunburst: Too bad there's nowhere to get actual fruit.
Stellar Flare: In the future, all ponies will drink their fruit!
Starlight Glimmer and Sunburst: [slurping]
Starlight Glimmer: [coughing]
[thud]
"Cracked Wheat": One hundred percent ancient pony grains! Just like the town founders ate! Hope you like crust!
[crunch, thud]
[gate creaking]
Automated voice: Welcome to Sire's Hollow!
[gate creaking]
Automated voice: Welcome to Sire's Hollow!
[gate creaking]
Automated voice: Welcome to Sire's Hollow!
[gate creaking]
Automated voice: Welcome to Sire's Hollow!
[gate creaking]
Automated voice: Welcome to Sire's—!
Stellar Flare: Okay, it's annoying. I get it.
Firelight: Maybe my preservation efforts were a little over the top.
[crash!]
"Cracked Wheat": [groans] Oh, no.
Stellar Flare: And I might have been trying to turn the town into a shopping mall.
Firelight: Well, whatever direction the town takes from now on, how about we work together on it?
Stellar Flare: Deal! Sunburst, you should move closer to Ponyville. After this success, I'm sure the Princess of Friendship will want to send you on more missions.
[smack!]
Sunburst: That's not really how it works. Oh, look at the time! We should get going now that we solved the friendship problem, right, Starlight?
Starlight Glimmer: Yeah... The thing is, I don't think we did solve it. When we solve a friendship problem, our cutie marks are supposed to glow.
Firelight: Aw, don't be disappointed, puddin'. Your papa will work this out for ya.
Starlight Glimmer: Heh. My papa wasn't called by the map in Twilight's castle. I was.
Stellar Flare: How are you gonna explain this to the princess? What's your plan if she fires you from friendship quests?
Sunburst: Mom! She doesn't—! It-It's not—!
Stellar Flare: Use your words, Sunburst.
Sunburst: [angry groan]
Starlight Glimmer: I guess you two weren't the problem we were sent to solve after all.
Stellar Flare: So now you don't even know why you're here? Ah! We have to figure this out before we run out of time!
Sunburst: [sighs] Mom, there isn't a time limit.
Firelight: So you're here for an extra long visit? [laughs] You can stay in your old room, punkie wunk! It's just like you left it!
[guitar riff]
Starlight Glimmer: [whispering] We need to find this friendship problem now!
Firelight: Now, I know you have your little job to do, but Stellar and I know the town a lot better than you two.
Stellar Flare: That's right! Neither of you have been home in ages. You're gonna need our help to succeed!
Starlight Glimmer: I guess that makes sense...
Firelight and Stellar Flare: [chuckling]
Stellar Flare: I already have some ideas!
Firelight: Me, too!
Sunburst: I think I liked it better when they were fighting.
[chalk tapping]
Firelight: Okay! Now that I've explained how Sire's Hollow was founded, we can start to explore all the possible friendship problems that might have developed over time.
Starlight Glimmer: [inhales] I appreciate the history lesson, Dad, but I need to find the problem now. In the present.
Firelight: Aw, now, hon-bun. How are you gonna do that without all the backstory, huh? Oh! Of course I know how hard it is for you to sit still and focus, soooo... would it help you pay attention to hold on to your bwankie?
Starlight Glimmer: [growling]
Stellar Flare: Now, you've had a little setback. But don't worry. I know exactly what you need to do.
Sunburst: Make a plan?
Stellar Flare: Already got one! Step one – interview the suspects. Step two – use your talents to solve the issue. Step three – get the Princess of Friendship to send you on more missions!
Sunburst: Mom! It does not work like that!
Stellar Flare: Uh-huh.
[beat]
Stellar Flare: [clears throat]
"Ever Essence": [poorly acted] Oh! Thank goodness you are here! These two ponies refuse to use my essences.
"Raspberry Latte": Maybe because we don't like to cover our natural scent!
Stellar Flare: [clears throat irritably]
"Ever Essence": Ugh.
"Raspberry Latte": Ugh.
"Minty Mocha": [sighs] [poorly acted] And she refuses to buy our books.
"Ever Essence", "Raspberry Latte", and "Minty Mocha": [poorly acted] Surely this is a friendship problem.
Sunburst: Ugh! It needs to be a real friendship problem! You can't just make one up! [angry groan]
Stellar Flare: This is what happens when we don't rehearse! Ugh!
Firelight: Starlight? Sweetie? I found a really old town bylaw that nopony agrees on. Apparently, we're not supposed to prance or canter after dinnertime. Could that be the problem? Silly-filly?
Starlight Glimmer: Whew! What are you doing?
Sunburst: [sighs] Hiding from my mother. She started making up friendship problems for me to solve.
Starlight Glimmer: [scoffs] My dad won't even let me talk to anypony in case they're "strangers". I'm a grown mare!
Sunburst: [sighs] We're never going to find the friendship problem with them around, let alone solve it.
"Cracked Wheat": Maybe you two should start looking for it on your own? [crunching]
[lamp clicks]
Starlight Glimmer: [whispering] Okay! So we wanted to talk to all of you, you know, in private.
Sunburst: [whispering] Just to see if there were issues any of you had with your friends.
"Ever Essence": [whispering] Got it. Just one question. Why are we whispering?
"Cracked Wheat": They're avoiding their parents.
"Ever Essence", "Raspberry Latte", and "Minty Mocha": Ohhhh... [various agreement]
Sunburst: No. Not avoiding. Just... taking a break.
Starlight Glimmer: Yeah. We needed to focus. B-But we're definitely not avoiding them.
"Raspberry Latte": So you're whispering with all of us in the darkest corner of the shop where nopony can possibly see because you're not avoiding them?
Starlight Glimmer: Mm-hmm.
Sunburst: Uh, but they definitely can't hear us in here, right?
"Cracked Wheat": No way! This is the antiquities section. Nopony ever comes back here.
Firelight: There you are! But what are you doing in here? [gasps] Is the friendship problem in my favorite section of the bookstore?
Starlight Glimmer and Sunburst: [groans]
Firelight: ...And then, I thought the best way to look for a friendship problem in the present...
Starlight Glimmer: Dad!
Firelight: ...was to look back in our town history even farther!
Starlight Glimmer: [angry groan]
Stellar Flare: Sunburst! Oh, finally! Now, I know you don't want me to make up a problem, but what if I start one?
Sunburst: That's not how this—!
Stellar Flare: I mean, nopony ever became a success by following all the rules, right?
Sunburst: [nickers angrily]
Stellar Flare: [to Firelight] How are things on your end?
Firelight: Couldn't be better! New leads and such!
Starlight Glimmer: Guys...?
Stellar Flare: We really are providing excellent assistance, aren't we?
Sunburst: Guys!
Firelight: I dare say our children should be grateful for our help.
Starlight Glimmer: Guys!
Starlight Glimmer and Sunburst: We don't want your help!
Stellar Flare: I'm sorry. You don't want our help?
Firelight: [chuckles] That's... That's ridiculous! What reason could you possibly have for that?
Starlight Glimmer: Because you're driving us crazy!
Stellar Flare: Oh, really? And just how am I driving you crazy?
Sunburst: By always coming up with plans! I don't need a plan! I mean, maybe I do, but it'll be mine, not yours!
Stellar Flare: [choking up] Well... I'm sorry for trying to help! [crying]
Starlight Glimmer: And you're not any better! I'm not a filly! I'm a grown pony with a job to do, and I'll do it on my own!
Firelight: Well. I'll let you get to it then.
Starlight Glimmer: Great. Now we have to smooth things over with our parents on top of finding and solving a friendship problem.
Sunburst: It's almost like our relationship with our parents is the friendship problem.
Starlight Glimmer: You don't think that's it, do you?
"Cracked Wheat": [clears throat] That's what all of us think.
Starlight Glimmer: [groans, collapses] Why couldn't we have been sent to stop a war or something?!
Starlight Glimmer: Dad?
Firelight: Hello, Ms. Glimmer. How is your friendship problem search going? I only ask as an interested observer, since I know you are an adult who's capable of doing things without help from anypony else.
Starlight Glimmer: Actually... I think Sunburst and I figured out what it is.
Firelight: So Stellar and I weren't really helpful after all.
Starlight Glimmer: Well, we haven't actually solved it. And I don't think we can. Not without you.
Stellar Flare: [sniffs]
[spritz]
Stellar Flare: [coughing] Pungent. Ugh. [to Sunburst] Oh. Did you come by to be driven crazy by more of your mother's plans?
Sunburst: No, I came to apologize.
Stellar Flare: Well, it's going to take more than an apology to make up for telling me you don't want my help finding your friendship problem.
Sunburst: Oh, I'm not sorry for that. Starlight and I already figured out what the problem is.
Stellar Flare: This is a terrible apology.
Sunburst: Well, if you come with me and help fix it, I'll give you a better one.
Starlight Glimmer: Usually, Twilight or one of our other friends gets called to a place with a friendship problem to fix.
Sunburst: But Starlight and I realized we came here to fix a friendship problem we already had.
Starlight Glimmer: I'm sorry I've been avoiding coming home, Dad. But you can't keep treating me like a foal.
Firelight: I'm sorry, sugarbun. [sighs] I just know how hard things were for you when you left home. I guess I wanted you to feel safe, like... when you were young.
Starlight Glimmer: Dad, I know I've made some mistakes, and I'll probably make a bunch more. But I learn from them. I think that's what growing up is.
Sunburst: I'm sorry I never told you how much your plans bothered me, and I know you just want me to succeed. But I need to do that on my own.
Stellar Flare: I remember how lost you were when you flunked out of magic school. I thought as long as you had a plan, you'd never feel that way again.
Sunburst: You don't have to worry, Mom. I need to find my own way. And I definitely don't feel lost anymore.
[shimmering sounds]
"Cracked Wheat": [crying] That's so beautiful!
Stellar Flare: The glowing cutie mark is such a symbol of accomplishment. I don't suppose there's a way for you to get it to glow all the time.
Sunburst: [chuckles] Pretty sure it doesn't work that way.
Starlight Glimmer: Not unless we solved a friendship problem every few seconds, and I kinda hope this one will be it for a while.
Firelight: You know, it seems to me your map is saying we're not just your parents. Heh. We're your friends, too.
Starlight Glimmer: I guess so.
Firelight: So if I promise to treat you less like a little filly and more like a friend, will you visit more?
Starlight Glimmer: Absolutely. Mmm.
Sunburst: And if you start to drive me crazy again, I'll tell you instead of never coming home.
Stellar Flare: That's lovely of you to say, dear. But you know, I can always visit you.
Firelight: Stellar, you're a genius! [laughs] How do you feel about a road trip?
Stellar Flare: I might have a few plans for that.
Starlight Glimmer and Sunburst: [chuckling nervously]
[train chugging]
[credits]