April 19th, 2014
Dolphin Cruise is the final episode of the Lego Friends series, but also the best. Throughout the series the focus has been the girls forming friendships, planning birthday parties, and taking care of animals. But now we get to do some actual science. Kind of.
The episode starts out at the high school. The girls burst into a classroom and discuss how excited they are to be there. It’s science class, both Mia and Olivia’s favorite subject. Although, based on their past exploits with surprise parties and animal training, who could tell?
Anyway, Andrea, who doesn’t seem that interested in science, reminds the girls that it’s also their last class of the day. She adds that afterward, they can all go to the beach. Stephanie checks her day planner and notes that she has two free hours for beach time. Emma is interested as well.
The teacher enters and muses to the girls if only there was a place for all of them to sit while she teaches. Emma helpfully suggests their desks. There teacher agree that that’s a wonderful idea. The girls sit down and the lesson starts.
Ms. Stevens, the teacher, tells the class that that day, they’re talking about dolphins. Andrea, however, is so set on going to the beach that she immediately connects the subject matter to the girls’ after-school plans and says that she can just feel the sand between her toes. Olivia tells her to shush.
The teacher then does something that so many shows have failed to ever actually show. She teaches. Ms. Stevens explains dolphin bycatch. It takes place when fishermen drag their nets across the bottom of the ocean in order to capture fish and the dolphins get caught in the nets. The caught dolphins can then drown. The girls are all horrified.
Imagine that. Something as simple as an explanation for something that occurs in the world and this is the first time it’s actually been a part of a plot before. Even series like Monster High and Ever After High, two shows that focus on high school, never manage to show any real lessons or instruction. Nothing even on the odd worlds that both of those shows inhabit.
After Ms. Stevens tells them what dolphin bycatch is, she announces a contest. She tells the class that the student who can create the best idea to prevent dolphin bycatch will win a dolphin sightseeing trip. The teacher announces that the ideas will be presented the next day in class. Perky Olivia announces, “Win or not, we all want to help.”
At the end of class, Stephanie tells the other girls that they have this. Emma talks about how she can’t stand to think about the innocent dolphins getting caught in the nets. Olivia, who is already brainstorming, suggests that maybe if the nets were made out of different materials, then the dolphins could slip through. Although, any net with a hole in it large enough for a dolphin, wouldn’t be able to catch any fish. It’s a good first thought, nevertheless.
Mia offers the knowledge that dolphins use echo location in order to navigate. Which they do, which is excellent information for her to pass on to the viewers. Anyway, school is out, but the girls want to stay and work on their project. Andrea is concerned with her beach trip, but Stephanie suggests that they should go to the beach for inspiration. The girls high five in excitement.
But first, Mia suggests stopping by the vet to check up on her animals, some of which are recovering from injuries. At the vet, Mia is talking to a dog named Molly, who has a broken leg. As the other girls all help care for the various animals, Mia is being very picky about how they are handled and taken care of.
Aunt Sophie, Olivia’s aunt and the town’s veterinarian, tells Mia that she will be out of town for the next few days. Mia assures her that she will be there to take care of all of the animals in her absence. Mia tells the girls that they should sweep up and then go to the beach.
The girls arrive at the beach in 4-wheelers. No mention of where they got those. They disembark and set up a picnic table. Emma tells the girls that she’s going to go get some snacks and walks off to the snack bar. The four remaining girls sit down at the table to discuss the project. Mia suggests that they figure out a way to keep the dolphins completely away from the boats. Emma heads back to the table, carrying a drink container of smoothies.
Just then, Jacob drives up in a 4-wheeler and has completely lost control of the vehicle. He honks the horn at the girls and they scramble to get out of the way as he drives straight through the picnic table. He crashes into the sand.
The girls recover quickly and ask Jacob if he’s okay. Jacob explains that he had to serve in order to avoid hitting a turtle. The turtle is then shown and the turtle is obviously female as it has long, sexy eyelashes.
Turtles are reptiles and as such, don’t even have hair follicles. So why put big sexy eyelashes on a turtle? Why do animals need to be gendered and sexualized? Why?
Anyway, Mia observes the teenagers and while everyone is okay, the smoothies have been knocked over. Jacob says that he owes the girls a snack. Olivia thanks him for honking his horn at the girls as a warning. Then the girls get an idea, all at the same time!
An underwater warning system to keep the dolphins away from the nets. Stephanie announces, “We could call it dolphin alert!” Olivia thanks Jacob for the idea, even though he’s a little unsure of how he helped exactly.
Back at school, the girls are testing out their dolphin alert project. They put a speaker into some water and it emits orca whale sounds. Meanwhile, Emma and Stephanie are painting a poster to explain the workings of the system and Emma is being a bit of a perfectionist about it.
Stephanie insists, “It’s good enough.” Emma counters, “No, good enough isn’t good enough. I want to it be perfect.” Then the warning bell goes off.
The next scene starts in science class where a boy named Ben is presenting his head to prevent dolphin bycatch. It’s a traffic light system that works underwater that is supposed to let the dolphins know when it’s safe to move to that part of the ocean.
Ms. Stevens asks him how the fish are supposed to know to follow the traffic light system. Ben nervously suggests traffic school. The classes laughs. I wish there would have been a more intelligent example given for this project. Not only to show that there are different ways of looking at a problem, but also to make it look like the girls weren’t going to win by default because their idea is the only one that actually makes sense.
Anyway, the girls are up next. They explain that underwater speaks will be hung under the boats and the fishermen will play the sounds of orca whales, the dolphin’s natural enemy. The dolphins will swim away from the sound of the ocras in order to avoid them and, as a result, avoid being caught in the nets.
The girls’ idea is well received and they go back to their seats. Andrea tells the girls that now they will have to wait. Although, from Ben’s presentation, it doesn’t look like there’s much competition.
Back in Andrea’s bedroom, the only girl of color complains about having to wait an entire day to see who won the contest. Stephanie suggests that they all do something to take their minds off of the waiting. Andrea says that she could write on her music blog.
Stephanie suggests organizing Andrea’s closet. Something that all teenage girls no doubt want to do. Olivia then turns on the theme song to the show; Best Friends Forever. All of the girls dance and that’s the end of the scene.
Personally, I wanted to hear more about Andrea’s music blog. No one had ever mentioned it before. What does she write about? Is it about her own singing, about current pop acts, about both? Does she do Tumblr image posts or actual text? So few mediums really talk about teenage girls writing. They need to be encouraged to put words on a screen. This would have been an excellent time to show it, but instead, it was a throw-away comment.
At any rate, the episode picks up the next day at school. Mia and Olivia race to the bulletin board in the hallway to see if the winner has been posted. There’s no word though. Stephanie approaches and asks if the winner is posted. Then Emma does the same. Then Andrea does too. Finally, Stephanie tells them to breathe deeply.
Just after that, Ms. Stevens arrives and posts their project as the winner! They’ve done it! They’ve won the contest! Ms. Stevens tells the excited girls that their idea was outstanding and several fishing companies are willing to take a look at their Dolphin Alert System.
The teacher tells the girls that she will meet them at the dock tomorrow for the boat trip. Ms. Stevens adds that they will be gone all day. After she walks away, Mia pauses and asks who will look after all of the animals. Emma tells her friend not to worry and there will be someone at the clinic to help the pets. Stephanie tells the girls that they have some important business to attend to and they have to come with her.
At the vet, Sasha, one of the vet techs, presumably, is working and Mia is upset. She states that Sasha is nice and everything, but she’s not on top of her game. To illustrate her point, Sasha tries to put a cat into a dog’s kennel and the animals freak out. She says a dispassionate whoops and removes the cat.
Emma tells Mia that Sophie trusts her, so she should too. Mia begrudgingly says that she’ll give her a chance. Meanwhile, Stephanie, Andrea, and Olivia are outside of the bakery. They enter the building and start looking at all of the cakes and pastries. The woman behind the counter asks the girls if they need any help.
The girls start picking out cakes and soon realize that they’ve selected too many. Olivia suggests that they get cupcakes instead of a full-sized cake. As for what the point of this scene is, I have no idea. Perhaps to show the bakery, as part of the Lego Friends set? To make sure that little girls know that they can own the place their heroines shopped in? I’m really not sure. But this scene has no baring on the plot.
Next the girls talk about what to pack for the trip. Stephanie says that they’ll need rubber boots. Andrea informs her friends that she doesn’t “do” practical, but for this trip, she’ll make an exception.
Back at the vet, Sasha is helping Molly, the puppy with the broken leg. Mia is hovering over her and nitpicking about how she wraps the bandage on the puppy. Emma pulls Mia away and tells her that she’s probably making Sasha nervous. She points out that the vet tech has her own way of doing things.
Mia is thinking about skipping the dolphin watching trip in order to help take care of the animals when she turns and sees that Molly is bandaged and happy. Mia immediately backs down and tells Emma that she was right. The teenager tells Sasha that she did a great job.
I’m not entirely sure what this scene has to do with anything either. Sasha, if she is indeed a vet tech, has had training and education that Mia hasn’t had. If so, why is Mia being so picky when she’s just a teenager and Sasha is a trained and educated professional? Additionally, why is Mia so controlling that she has to demand that Sasha does everything her way?
At any rate, the episode picks up the next day at the dock. The girls all arrive wearing yellow rain coats and rubber boots. As they get onto the dock they see Ms. Stevens. She is wearing a one-piece bathing suit and a sarong. The girls see a dinky, old, gray fishing boat and think that that’s the boat they will be taking on their trip.
Emma jokes that Ms. Stevens will be the best dressed on the their boat. But the teacher informs the girls that the decrepit fishing boat isn’t their vehicle, a glimmering white 3-story yacht is their boat. And this is where the episode falls apart.
This boat, known as the Dolphin Cruiser, isn’t just a part of the story, it’s an actual toy that children can buy. This takes the story of science and discovery and turns it into yet another attempt to sell toys to children. The story stops being about invention and becomes a way for a company to make money.
For me, the revelation that the plot’s focus was just about selling a piece of plastic cheapens the science and education that they were trying to put into the episode. The Dolphin Cruiser is just another toy. It has nothing to do with education or dolphin bycatch.
At any rate, Andrea tells her instructor that, “We can’t take a yacht looking like this!” The girls ask to go home and change. At this point, so far, the girls have been very unconcerned with their appearance and clothing. But Lego Friends wants to make sure that you know that these characters are girls and as such, they have to be fashion conscious.
The girls return quickly, this time wearing bathing suit tops, shorts and sunglasses. The other girls come aboard and Emma notes that she forgot her camera. She goes back to get it.
The four teenagers start to look around the yacht. Giving the future owner of the Dolphin Cruiser a tour of what features they can expect when they convince their parents to buy it for them. Here’s the commercial for the Dolphin Cruiser, just in case you’re curious.
The girls all lay out on the top of the yacht and catch some sun. Stephanie comments, “I could spend some serious time here. It’s official. This yacht is spankin’.” Mia then mentions that Emma is very quiet. Then her phone rings. It’s Emma. Mia picks it up and discovers that they’ve left Emma on the dock.
Somehow, through their excitement the girls had completely forgotten about their friend. The teens go to Ms. Stevens and inform her that they’ve left Emma. The teacher, who failed to do a head count, asks the girls what they should do. Stephanie suggests turning around since they aren’t that far out. Just then, Andrea sees a jet ski (which can also be yours upon the purchase of the Dolphin Cruiser!).
The girls start to argue over who gets to pick up Emma, but Olivia goes down a water slide and gets onto the jet ski before anyone else can get to it. She gets Emma and the girls ride back in life vests, which seem to have materialized out of nowhere. The two girls jet ski back to the boat.
Call me cynical, but this entire sequence seems to be another way to showcase a feature of the toy. A teacher really left a child behind and had no idea when she only had to keep track of 5 teenage girls? None of Emma’s friends noticed that the dark-haired young woman wasn’t aboard as they toured the yacht? Accidents can happen, but on a trip like this, it just seems a convenient way for the episode to show up another feature of the toy that they’re trying to sell.
As they continue their tour, the girls spot some dolphins. Then they see fishing boats… and their nets are out! Thankfully, Andrea brought the Dolphin Alert System with her. She suggests trying it out. The girls lower it into the water and activate it. Andrea announces, “Dolphin alert, do your thing!”
The orca sounds start and upon hearing the sounds of their predators, the dolphins turn around. The girls celebrate and the fishermen across the water congratulate them too. Mia looks down into the water and sees a baby dolphin that has gotten separated from the pod. Olivia finds the group of dolphins and Emma gently talks to the young animal.
The dolphin baby starts to follow the boat. Stephanie yells for the captain to stop the engine so that the dolphin doesn’t get hit. Andrea dives into the water to guide the dolphin back to its family. The dolphin, which apparently has no fear of humans whatsoever, eagerly follows Andrea.
Andrea reunites the baby dolphin with its pod and a helpful adult dolphin gives Andrea a ride back to the yacht. Stephanie observes, “I don’t speak dolphin, but that looks like he’s thanking us.” Back on the yacht, Mia wants to call and check on her animals, but they’re so far out to sea that they don’t have cell service.
The girls say goodbye to the dolphin pod and continue on their journey. Just then, the GPS goes out. Olivia offers to help. She accesses the laptop and starts to troubleshoot. But she can’t figure out how to fix it. Once again, it’s refreshing to see one of these main characters doing something proactive and not only proactive, but something not typically feminine.
Ms. Stevens as the girls what they should do. Andrea suggests sending a May Day out to the Coast Guard. Stephanie figures that the traveled South West to get out to where they are, so they need to go North East to get back. Mia tells them that they can use the sun as a compass point. Since the sun sets in the West, they then figure out where South West is. It just happens to be where the dolphin pod is.
The girls decide that the dolphins are pointing the way home. Andrea tells the other girls, “It’s their ocean, they would know.” Andrew, the boat captain, drives off towards the dolphins. Just then, the GPS restarts. Shortly after that, their cell service is back. Mia gets a photo from the vet of the happy and well taken care of animals.
Andrea turns on some music for the girls to listen to and the girls eat their cupcakes. Stephanie then, for some reason, feeds a cupcake to a dolphin. As if that’s healthy or normal or advisable. The girls dance to the music and the dolphins mimic them.
The dolphin pod swims around the boat and form patterns on the GPS as they swim. The girls dance on the boat and that’s the end of the episode. While it’s the best episode of the trio, it’s still highly problematic.
The episode shows the girls being creative and inventive, but then it uses that plot line to showcase a toy that has nothing to do with either attribute. The girls learn about dolphins and dolphin bycatch, but then they feed the humanized dolphins a cupcake and dance with them as if they’re not wild animals at all.
Also, the sexy eyelashes have to go. They just do. No animal without hair follicles needs huge, sexy eyelashes on their heads. It’s just weird and strangely sexual.
I wanted to like this series, but it offers so little to girls and young women. Instead of focusing on the entire point of Legos, which is building and invention, the show feminized the plot lines and characters to the point where the focus is on relationships and female-centered hobbies.
With this final episode, the creators can say that they tried. They tried to integrate some of the awesome attributes of Legos into this female-centered show. But for as much progress as they made from Bratz or Barbie, it’s not enough. Girls and young women still deserve better.
Want to read all of the articles in the Lego Friends series? Naturally. Click here.