Rainbow Dash’s lifelong dream is finally coming true. With the retirement of one Wonderbolt from active service duty and her name on top of the Wonderbolt Reserve list, she’s finally promoted to being a full Wonderbolt and, as her first duty, has two days to learn a routine for an Equestria-wide Wonderbolt tour. This requires her to spend the bulk of the next two days at Wonderbolt Academy in the official Wonderbolt Barracks. Yet shortly after arriving, she forgets the rule of checking the runway before crossing and ends up having to dive to avoid hitting incoming Wonderbolts, resulting in a massive crash that ends with her in a garbage can and has all of the Wonderbolts calling the “newbie”: “Rainbow Crash”. As that was the same nickname bullies called her back in Flight School, Rainbow Dash gets irritated when it becomes her new nickname. She spends the next two days thinking she needs to stand out above and beyond the others so that she can either get the other Wonderbolts to forget the nickname or call her something else, but not only does she not lose it but it’s even put on her official flight jacket. Finally, at the Ponyville Show, Rainbow Dash enlists Scootaloo’s help to try and set up a stunt to make her look incredible and lose the nickname, but it horribly backfires, endangering others, injuring herself, and making a mess of the field. After being patched up, Dash finally confesses her fears and feelings regarding being called “Rainbow Crash”; at which point the Wonderbolts reveal all of them go by nicknames they earned from their first mess-ups as Wonderbolts, and that the nickname was supposed to be a sign of including her as a team member rather than singling her out. After agreeing not to showboat anymore and be more of a team flier, Spitfire lets her off with one month’s probation. That night, as Dash begins her punishment of first cleaning up the field and then cleaning Wonderbolt Barracks for the next month, she’s still happy…knowing she’s a Wonderbolt at last.
When I was little, I wanted a Doctor Dreadful Food Lab for Christmas. It looked like a boy’s version of an Easy Bake oven and I was so excited to play with it like on the commercial and make little treats for everyone when I got it. Months slowly passed as I waited and waited for Christmas to come. Finally, it got here, and I got what I wanted. I was so excited that I immediately tried it out…and not only was it messy, loud, and a pain to clean, but the food it made was terrible. Something I had been looking forward too and expecting for weeks ended up being a pile of crud.
That incident makes me think of this episode quite a bit.
This season is not terribly kind to Rainbow Dash, first with this episode and later with “The Cart Before the Ponies” and “28 Pranks Later”, but of the three this one is a genuine letdown. Rainbow Dash’s desire to become a Wonderbolt ranked up there with the major series goals alongside the CMCs finally getting their Cutie Marks. But whereas that event was handled amazingly, Rainbow Dash finally becoming a Wonderbolt seems almost an afterthought. To me it’s as if her time at Wonderbolt Academy and becoming a Wonderbolt Reservist was held with more magnitude.
I somewhat get what they were going for in this episode. If you manage to trim away all the fat, the lesson Rainbow Dash learns (somehow through all the mess) is to stop worrying about making herself look good and to instead be a team player and worry about the success of the group as a whole. While Rainbow Dash does have definite ego problems, this still seems contradictory. Dash embodies Loyalty. Once she saw herself as part of the Wonderbolts, she should have been more devoted to making them look good rather than herself. Now, of course, one can make the argument that Dash didn’t see herself as part of the Wonderbolts. One can also argue that this is the first time Rainbow Dash’s own neuroses and self-image came dangerously close to sabotaging her own dream. If you can make yourself see that in this episode, it’s pretty good.
The problem is none of that is readily apparent. I almost think the flashback should have been left out, because by leaving it in it added a curveball element to the story. The nickname wasn’t just something Rainbow Dash saw as “diminishing her coolness” but was something that drug up painful memories of inadequacy; ones that might have led to her poor self-image to begin with. Now it’s important that even if that was true that a mature individual needs to grow past those events, and that’s something only Rainbow Dash can do, but that idea wasn’t necessarily pushed either which would have made the episode more weighty. Instead, again, it seemed like she was just trying to escape a bad nickname. We’re left with an odd situation where the problem doesn’t seem minor enough to ignore but not heavy enough to feel a sense of accomplishment when Rainbow Dash overcomes it.
Finally, the middle of the episode with Rainbow Dash impersonating the other members of the Mane Six just falls apart to me. While Ashleigh Ball does a somewhat amusing job of imitating Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy, the audience already knows this isn’t going to work in advance and the whole thing becomes painful to watch as Rainbow Dash embarrasses herself.
This episode is slightly better than I remember it, but the fact is after episodes like “Magical Mystery Cure” and “Crusaders of the Lost Mark”, achieving a character’s goal for six seasons seems to go off with all the pomp of a Christmas present you thought you wanted then realized wasn’t that neat when you finally opened the box.
Scootaloo’s eyes when she’s cheering for Rainbow Dash at the beginning are so bad they should be a Beauty and the Beast meme. 😛
I’ve said it before, but…Rainbow Dash has a really nice house. Being a weatherpony must pay very well.
While the fan community has nicknamed Rainbow Dash “Dashie” a long time ago (especially popularized in the fanfiction “My Little Dashy”), Rarity’s line “So what do you do now, Dashy?” might be the first time that title has been used in the series.
Rainbow Dash and Spitfire aren’t just making stuff up. “Altius Volantis” is indeed Latin for “Soaring Higher”.
Even the Flight School instructor laughed at filly Rainbow Dash. Harsh. 😦
It’s been a couple seasons now where they’ve been reinforcing that one of Rainbow Dash’s quirks is doing impressions…but naturally this episode went wild with that. Normally Rainbow Dash changes her mane style when imitating someone, as she first did back in “The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone” for Twilight Sparkle. Instead of doing that again in this episode, she wears Moondancer’s glasses. It’s also notable that Rainbow Dash’s voice actor, Ashleigh Ball, performs Applejack’s voice as well and is able to make the two sound distinct from each other. Hence, when Rainbow Dash imitates Applejack, all she does is give a slight country accent to her normal voice.
Rainbow Dash’s suggestion for “Reading Rainboom” is a knockoff of the PBS series “Reading Rainbow”. Obviously, using that name would have been a copyright infringement. 😛
Similarly, “Care Mare” is a knockoff of “Care Bear”, a series that frequently gets compared to the original My Little Pony. One of the few chuckles I get this episode is when Spitfire clearly disapproves, Rainbow Dash skulks away still acting like timid Fluttershy.
Now that Kelly Sheridan is a cast regular, she can help out by voicing another Wonderbolt: Misty Fly. 🙂
2 Stars out of 5