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Synopsis:

Scootaloo is doing a school report for the most inspirational pony in her life on (naturally) Rainbow Dash, and following a slingshot mishap to launch her to Cloudsdale she ends up by chance landing right in the front yard of Rainbow Dash’s parents: Bow Hothoof and Windy Whistles. On learning that she’s a fan of Rainbow Dash, the two reveal themselves to be Rainbow Dash’s biggest fans and show her around the house and all of her old things as well as a number of awards they gave her for almost every achievement she’s made in her entire life. When Scootaloo slips that Rainbow Dash is now a full Wonderbolt, the two, who were unaware of that fact, are overjoyed and immediately go with Scootaloo to the Wonderbolt Training Grounds to congratulate her. Their rather loud cheering and overemotional reactions, however, soon cause a scene and leave Dash rather embarrassed. It only gets worse when her parents begin following her around at her shows and public events, going over the top with their cheering and celebration at everything Dash does. Finally, when they follow her into the locker room to congratulate her for hanging a towel, Dash snaps and angrily blows up at them for their behavior and tells them to leave her alone; reducing her parents to tears and making them run off miserably. Scootaloo, upset at how Dash treated them, runs off as well, causing Dash to run after her and explain. She reveals that ever since she was young her parents had always loudly cheered and supported her to an excessive degree; at first when all she could win was participant trophies and growing louder as she started to actually place in competitions, causing her endless embarrassment from the scenes they made. Scootaloo, however, points out that having over-supportive parents isn’t really too bad of a thing, and that she wishes she had parents like that as her own never expected her to do anything. She further points out that Rainbow Dash’s self-confident and self-assured demeanor came from them always telling her she would be the best at anything she tried. Realizing the error of her ways, Dash (after reconciling with Scootaloo) gets the rest of the Wonderbolts to surprise her parents with a special performance and declares herself her parents’ “biggest fan”. Later, as Scootaloo concludes her report, due to using too many photos and including half of an eaten sandwich, she only gets a B from Ms. Cheerilee…but Dash, Bow, and Windy, now her “honorary family”, cheer her on none the less.

Review:

To be honest, I’m a little surprised that this episode ended up so hated by fans. I’m guessing it’s because many of them are probably still too young or live with their own parents. To be honest, it is an episode with a just a touch of a muddled moral, but it’s so light I’ll consider this more of a “smudged” one.

The fact is Bow Hothoof and Windy Whistles did go too far. Even the other ponies in the episode acknowledged it, and anyone who has ever been a child on a team and experienced that one set of parents getting too loud and crazy would know what it’s like. (Although, in all fairness, Bow and Windy were merely too exuberant and not psychotic and making threats or insulting other players like many crazed soccer moms and dads do.) The only pony who seemed to not notice that they had gone too far was Scootaloo herself. As a result, part of her own anger at Rainbow Dash was unjustified, and part of Dash’s own anger was justified. Did she handle it in the best way or tactfully? Not at all. But they did need to “tone it down” a little. They still could have been supportive of Dash without causing scenes, because they were embarrassing themselves as much as her.

The problem is many fans made too much of a jump from there and did think that most of Rainbow Dash’s reaction was warranted. It wasn’t. First she tried to omit her parents from her life all together by not telling them about anything she was doing. (This wouldn’t be the last time this season Dash would try to avoid confronting ponies over something by omitting the truth…) Second, she didn’t explain properly that they were going too far–she made the jump straight into telling them to leave her alone all together. For all those of you who thought everything Dash did is justified…I hope you never reach a point in your life where someone you care about and someone who you thought cared about you dismisses you as “an annoying embarrassment”. It tends to hurt quite a bit to be treated as living garbage.

Thirdly…

Remember the movie “Elf”? If you haven’t seen it, Buddy, a character raised by elves, reunites with his perfectly normal human father, his second wife, and his half-brother. He “treats every day like it’s Christmas”; and is constantly cheerful, joyful, and is spreading good cheer through an assortment of childish, playful, and heedless-of-impact-on-civilized-society acts of decorating, cookie making, sugar consumption, and toy crafting. It’s quite honestly very childish, silly, and even at times downright shocking at how much of a clash it is with normal society. Yet he’s always determined to spread that same inner child-like joy he has to everyone around him and he’s always dauntless no matter in what ways it clashes with less-cheerful individuals. On the surface for most of the film, he does just seem like a big, annoying, man-child who ruins everything and is a colossal embarrassment and disaster.

Yet near the end of the film, one character points it out quite simply: “Buddy cares about everyone.” For all of his inability to grasp society and his childish behavior, Buddy actually makes people happy around him and is a genuinely good-natured person who is never mean, callous, or hardened by anything “ugly” in the world. If we dislike that sort of individual just because he acts more over-zealous and childish than we expect, is that really such a bad thing? Considering all the truly bad things in the world, is it even really a justifiable complaint?

The same thing here. If the only crime Rainbow Dash’s parents are guilty of is being too loud and overzealous, that’s really not that bad in the grand scheme of things. There’s a lot worse. She could have parents like Spoiled Rich, for example.

Or, as hinted at in this episode, she could have parents like Scootaloo’s.

I’m not sure if the Y-rating will allow it, but in this episode we learn something new about Scootaloo. It’s well-known at this point she spends very little time at home and as much as she can with the CMCs or Rainbow Dash, the latter of whom she looks up to as an older sister. It’s so pronounced that there has been a lot of fanfiction proposing the idea she’s an orphan. This episode, however, shows it’s much worse: she has parents that just don’t care. It’s hinted at with a bit of body language that it might be even worse than that; that Scootaloo’s parents are “embarrassed” because she’s a pegasus that can’t fly and told her that she’d never amount to anything. If that’s true…move over, Spoiled Rich. We’ve got new worst parents on MLP.

As a quick aside, this is why I don’t think fans should be too excited about the new Scootaloo junior novel that’s coming out. Many of the junior novels contain canon bits that never appear on the show, and there was considerable buzz a few weeks ago when it was revealed Scootaloo doesn’t live with her parents but with her aunts. A few passages in the book hint that her aunts aren’t sisters but are, in fact, a lesbian couple. That excited a lot of fans, but…I’m not sure they should be. The show has made it abundantly clear that Scootaloo’s home life isn’t great.

So much, in fact, that by the end of this episode (in what I thought was a rather cute moment), Rainbow Dash’s own parents seem to “unofficially adopt” her. (Note that even before the ending, Bow and Windy have taken up praising Scootaloo for every little thing she does, such as tying blindfolds on them.)

It’s for cute moments like that as well as the fact I can see the silver lining in Rainbow Dash’s parents’ behavior I compliment this episode a bit more highly than others.

Best parent introductory episode ever! Whoo-hoo! Gooooo…DHX! 😛

Fun Facts:

Rainbow Dash’s father, Bow Hothoof, was first introduced in a flashback in Season Three’s “Games Ponies Play”. Aside from that, he made one other brief background appearance in Season Six’s “A Hearth’s Warming Tail”.

Clouds need to be mowed…for some reason.

The appearance of Rainbow Dash’s parents continues the trend with Rarity and Fluttershy’s parents….namely that coat color comes from one parent and mane color comes from the other. Pony genetics are weird. 😛

Way back in Season Two’s “Read It and Weep”, Rainbow Dash’s X-Ray revealed the unusual structure of pegasi wings. Their “feathers” are, in fact, musculoskeletal structures, with each one having a bone inside them. This makes their wings somewhat more analogous to bat wings rather than bird wings. This episode, however, marks the first episode in which pegasi wings are actually prehensile; allowing them to use their individual feathers as digits as on a hand. But for a first episode, it’s definitely ramped in. Wings are used to plug ears, shake hands, and make gestures.

Windy Whistles’ second-biggest fandom must be Princess Celestia, considering all of the memorabilia she keeps in her living room.

Rainbow Dash’s favorite food as a filly was a potato-and-pasta sandwich on sourdough. It’s a real power lunch at 8,000 calories. 😛

At one point, Bow calls Rainbow Dash: “Our little Dashy”. “My Little Dashy” is one of the most infamous fanfics ever written for the MLP:FIM fandom.

The fact that many of the pictures and flashbacks of Rainbow Dash as a filly are from what looks like the 1980s indicates Rainbow Dash might be as old as her 30s.

Scootaloo recounts the events of Season Three’s “Wonderbolt Academy” and Season Five’s “Rarity Investigates!” Notably absent is Season Four’s “Testing, Testing, 1 2 3”, in which Rainbow Dash had to pass a written exam to officially join the Wonderbolt Reserve, and Season Six’s “Newbie Dash”…both of which had events where Scootaloo helped out personally.

Sky Stinger and Vapor Trail briefly cameo walking past the locker rooms.

Rainbow Dash actually physically smacks Bo’s hoof away during the blow-up.

The other pegasi in Rainbow Dash’s flashback reveal some interesting trends. When Rainbow Dash only won a participant sticker, three of the notable future Wonderbolts, Spitfire, Soarin, and Fleetfoot, all placed. Hoops and the bullies also only got participant stickers, but they still look ready to mock Dash. Even more shocking…Lightning Dust placed ahead of Spitfire. The first time Rainbow Dash placed, Lightning Dust moved to the top spot. The next time, Spitfire actually lost a position. What appears to be filly Derpy, or at least a relative, has her eyes gradually go out-of-whack as the years pass. Eventually, Rainbow Dash unseated everyone including Lightning Dust. However, the event only shows how Spitfire still has “Mr. Burns” syndrome as she would have heard Rainbow Dash’s parents at all of those events and should have remembered them.

Rating:

3 Stars out of 5