Dear Princess Celestia
Did... Did Rainbow Dash just make herself... likable?
Your faithful yet conflicted Brony, Xain Russell
It's no secret that I'm not a big fan of Rainbow Dash. I think I made that clear over the course of my episode reviews last season. Seriously, she almost makes Trixie look tame by comparison, at least we only had to deal with her great and powerfulness twice. However I must admit that there have been times where I really felt something for our favourite weather mare, and this episode was such an occassion.
Something I noticed when I started my big Cast Poster Project: There aren't that many Pegasus ponies that show up in the background or feature as side characters, at least that the fandom has latched onto. Sure there's Derpy, but other than the ones that show up in episodes about pegasi, we don't get to see a whole lot of them. I terms of animation I feel that this is a bit of a shame, mostly because pegasi are some of the best animated things on this show. Pay attention to how most of them move while in the air, they're way more interesting to watch then a lot of the earth and unicorn ponies because they're constantly moving.
Oh Pinkie Pie, why must you hog the comedic spot light with your amusing antics? I want a mega megaphone for conventions.
Continuity and World Building
I don't think we need any more proof that the Wonderbolts are part of a military force then this episode. Granted though I've never seen a flight school for stunt pilots, so I wouldn't know. I know it's just a kids show and they wouldn't show something like that, but I find the prospect of an organized Equestrian Military to be intriguing. Why would they need one? Is the world Equestria resides in really not that peaceful? I mean I know there's some nasty shit that goes on in this world, but countries actually in conflict?
Story and Writing
Like I said, this episode actually made me like Rainbow Dash, and thankfully they didn't have to change her character at all in order to do it. She was still boastful and self absorbed, but once things started to get important to both her and her partner, she put a lid on her egotism till the job was done. And that's another thing, the fact that she was made wingpony to Lightning Dust only bothered her for a bit before she just accepted it and worked along side her leader; she didn't try to upstage dust even though she obviously would rather the rolls be reversed, and Dust, for her part, didn't look down on Dash or rub it in her face. They both saw each other as equals and valued each others contribution, it's just that Dust didn't care for anyone so far below her own skill level. Dash's surprising display of maturity during this episode and willingness to give up her dream to stand with her principals bumps her up a few spots on my favourite pony list.
I also have to give special mention to the writing of Lightning Dust. She could have been a bully and a weak character like Gilda, but instead she's just a driven pony determined to be the best (like no one ever was). In a way I actually find her determination to be admirable. She's not a foil to Rainbow Dash, or even a rival as I was guessing, but more like a mirror of how Dash was a long time ago. Dust hates when others slow her down, much like how Dash hated how she had to stick with the group in "Dragonshy," And I feel that was the point of her, to show how far Dash has come as a character without making a new character that we're forced to hate; avoiding the classic "Make a worse character to make another character seem better by comparison" gambit.
"It's not just about pushing ourselves, it's about pushing ourselves in the right direction." That might just be one of the best morals this show has ever done. I've seen many people who were determined to go out and do things with complete disregard to how it might affect themselves or others, or believing what they do is right for everyone. Our skills and talents are meant to be used and improved in responsible ways, ways that don't involve the endangerment of others or ourselves.
One of the best episodes so far this season, and definitely my favourite Rainbow Dash episode. It gave her something to like about her without us wanting to slap her or making another character look bad in comparison (I still say that "Sonic Rainboom" was a Rarity/Dash Episode). There weren't any noticeable problem with pacing or overall writing, and it gave us some insight into the Wonderbolts, something I know a lot of fans have been clamoring for.
All in All, Great episode, Rainbow Dash has been redeemed in my eyes, and next week and the week after we have TWO Applejack episodes in a row again! Yay!
1. Magic Duel
2. Too Many Pinkies
3. Wonderbolts Academy
4. The Crystal Empire
5. Sleepless in Ponyville
6. One Bad Apple