The Best Young Flier competition is happening in Cloudsdale, and Rainbow Dash is competing and trying to win using the “Sonic Rainboom”, a move that shatters the color spectrum and is incredible, but she only performed once before and, in her hundreds of attempts since, has never come close. As the Wonderbolts and Princess Celestia will be judging the competition, she’s nervous about doing well. She’s dismayed when only Fluttershy and her weak cheers will be there for support, prompting Rarity to get Twilight Sparkle to try a spell to enable them to get to Cloudsdale as well. Twilight ends up using a highly difficult spell that gives Rarity wings for three days but, when it’s too hard to reproduce, she uses a simpler spell on herself and the others that enables them to walk on clouds. The girls go to Cloudsdale to lend their support, but Rarity, whose wings are beautiful, soon grows enamored with herself and starts attracting more and more attention, eventually deciding to enter the competition herself and making Rainbow Dash incredibly nervous and fearful along with her normal growing anxiety. When the competition finally happens, Rainbow Dash and Rarity end up having to compete at the same time, and Dash’s anxiety is so high she messes up her routine. Rarity, however, grows so haughty that she flies too near to the sun and causes her wings to evaporate, causing her to fall to the earth. To make matters worse, when the Wonderbolts try to rescue her, she flails around and knocks them out by mistake. Seeing Rarity falling, Rainbow Dash is finally driven to perform the Sonic Rainboom to catch up to her and the Wonderbolts in time and rescues them all. Rainbow Dash wins the competition as a result, silences her old bullies, and gets to hang out with her idols. As for Rarity, she apologizes for her behavior and Twilight has her give the “lesson” to Celestia: it’s important to keep “your hooves on the ground” and to be there for your friends.
All around, this episode has a lot of good parts. Applejack and Pinkie Pie are almost “gloss” in this episode, with most of the time given to Twilight, Dash, Rarity, and Fluttershy, but it’s still good. It introduces a lot of Cloudsdale, which gives an opportunity for a lot of jokes. It’s the first look at a “different side” of Rainbow Dash, who until now seemed utterly cocky, smug, and self-confident…and is revealed to be highly insecure. It introduces her signature move as well, the Sonic Rainboom. All in all, it’s another good episode, entertaining, and even the origin of some of Fluttershy’s pathetic cheering, including the infamous “yay”.
I only have one real beef with this episode…and it’s really a beef with every episode that features Rainbow Dash on her quest to become a Wonderbolt. Every episode seems to “reset everything”. Rainbow Dash meets the Wonderbolts face-to-face in this episode…even saves their lives. Yet she’s again a stranger to them in “The Best Night Ever”, and a stranger to Spitfire again in “Wonderbolt Academy”, and barely remembered by them again in “Rainbow Falls”. In each of those episodes, Rainbow Dash proves she’s a more talented flier than most of the Wonderbolts themselves…and yet she constantly gets snubbed and has to go through a tremendous amount of “hoops” and “red tape” to join them. For the first three seasons or so this was alright…but, similar to the CMCs still not getting their Cutie Marks, it’s gotten “old” by Season Four. Yet unlike them, who are still plausible, Rainbow Dash seems to get “reset” every time she takes a step forward.
Nevertheless, it’s still a decent episode and entertaining.
This episode was the source of another infamous meme, Fluttershy’s pathetic cheer: “yay”.
Pinkie Pie says she’s never seen a “Sonic Rainboom”. Technically, as revealed in “The Cutie Mark Chronicles”, all the girls have seen it…but it’s not a mistake as none of them realize until the end of that episode that is what they were looking at. The episode creators, however, were thinking ahead as Rainbow Dash alludes that she did it only once before as a filly. However, they made a mistake in having the bully pegasi talk as if the Sonic Rainboom was a myth. Considering everyone in Equestria could see the first one she did, there’s no way they didn’t see it while racing her.
This episode was the first to introduce the fact that, for all of Rainbow Dash’s constant boasting and bragging, she’s actually highly insecure and doubtful of herself. In fact, she can be just as neurotic and overdramatic as Twilight Sparkle and Rarity.
Cloudsdale made its first appearance in this episode, as did the “Rainbow Factory”, which became the subject of a popular internet fandom song. It was also established that the reason pegasi can manipulate clouds is because their wings allow them to treat them as solid objects. Although Rainbow Dash had interacted with clouds multiple times before now, this was the episode that showed it wasn’t just “cartoon logic” but because she was a pegasus…otherwise she’d pass right through like a normal cloud.
The spell that gives Rarity wings is somewhat “telegraphed” as to its end effects, as it appears to wrap Rarity in a cocoon.
This episode alludes to the fact that Rainbow Dash dropped out of flight school as a filly, and is the only episode to mention that.
In a rather awkward display…Pinkie Pie is displaying a foam finger. Since ponies have hooves and not fingers…um…
Usually there are three Wonderbolts highlighted, two of which are Spitfire and Soarin. In this episode there are six.
Doctor Whooves is both a pegasus and younger-voiced in this episode.
Although it wouldn’t be until Season Two that Celestia would officially “spread out” the letters to where any of the Mane Six could write to her, this was the first episode where someone other than Twilight Sparkle presented the moral of the story.
Rarity’s fate is similar to that of the story of Icarus from Greek Mythology.
Some of the Cloudsdale music reminds me of “The Simpsons” theme…
3.5 Stars out of 5