“Yay!” – Fluttershy
Rainbow Dash is teaching Fluttershy how to be a cheerleader. As the quote above indicates, it doesn’t really seem like the best choice of pony for the role, with her sweet, demure voice unsuitable for loud cheering. Rainbow needs Fluttershy to cheer for her as she competes in the Best Young Fliers Competition, to be held in Cloudsdale. Rainbow practices her routine for the competition, to more barely audible cheers from Fluttershy. However, her piece de resistance, the Sonic Rainboom, goes wrong, sending her corkscrewing into Twilight’s library, which has just been tidied. At least she got the “boom” part right.
After explaining the situation, the two Pegasus ponies leave. Rarity, seeing that Rainbow’s apparent bravado is a show to mask her anxiety over the competition, exhorts Twilight to find a spell to get the non-flying Mane Six ponies into Cloudsdale too, so that they can support their friend. Luckily, Pinkie had a flight spell land on her face. Rarity volunteers to undergo the possibly dangerous spell as a test subject, and Twilight duly casts the spell. After the lightshow, an exhausted Twilight states that she thinks it worked, as coloured lights play over the walls.
In Cloudsdale, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy meet up with some stallions, who make fun of “Rainbow Crash” and ridicule the idea of a Sonic Rainboom as just “an old mare’s tale”. The teasing hits Rainbow hard, shaking her confidence in herself. Just then, Rarity arrives, flying with a set of beautiful butterfly wings that Twilight’s spell conjured for her. She is shortly followed by the rest of the group in Twilight’s balloon, who leap out onto the clouds… which to Rainbow’s astonishment, they can now be supported by, just like Pegasus ponies. Twilight explains that the wing spell was too difficult to do more than once, but luckily, she turned up a “walk on clouds” spell instead. Delighted, Rainbow offers to show them around her and Fluttershy’s childhood home city.
As the tour goes on, Rarity starts to let her new wings go to her head, as it were, ignoring Twilight’s warnings that they are very fragile, and that she should be encouraging Rainbow instead of showing them off. Rarity, who by this point is virtually unhinged by all the attention she’s been getting, refuses. One of the Pegasus pony bystanders suggests that Rarity should also enter the competition. She decides to do just that, causing Rainbow to start spiraling down into a nervous wreck.
The Competition itself begins at the Cloudsdale Coliseum, with the Wonderbolts as celebrity judges and even Princess Celestia herself in attendance. The remaining four Mane Six members are also in the audience, as are the stallions from earlier. Backstage, Rarity primps and preens in her dressing room, while Rainbow does her best to delay her own turn by switching numbers with other ponies on the sly (including Derpy).
Eventually no other competitors remain and, confidence utterly demolished, Rainbow is called up… just as Rarity pronounces herself ready, dressed in a garish ensemble including thickly-caked makeup that even a clown would probably refuse to wear. Due to the late entry, there is only enough time for one more performance: Rainbow Dash and Rarity must go out together. To make matters worse, Rarity has switched out Rainbow’s rock and roll music for something classical!
As Rarity does a graceful aerial dance, Rainbow finds herself messing up every part of her routine… crashing into the side, and sending a wayward cloud flying into Princess Celestia’s booth. Realizing her only chance to pull out a win is to complete the Sonic Rainboom, Rainbow gains as much altitude as she can. Rarity, meanwhile, is also flying upwards, so that she can beam the sunlight through her wings over the entire coliseum, hoping to give them a spectacle for the ages. She succeeds in doing so, provoking oohs and ahs from the audience. However, like Icarus, she finds that flying too close to the sun is a bad idea. Her wings having been immolated, she has only enough time for an “uh-oh” before she begins to fall. As she drops down below through the coliseum, the Wonderbolts dive down to rescue her, but are knocked out by her panicked flailing, adding three more imminent victims.
Hearing Rarity shriek, Rainbow Dash quickly abandons the competition to dive down after her. With the life of her friend and her idols at stake, Rainbow goes faster and faster. And then it happens…
With a rainbow shockwave, and a rainbow contrail, Rainbow Dash saves the day in the nick of time by catching all four ponies, and carrying them back up to the coliseum, to the cheers of every pony… none cheering louder than Fluttershy herself!
In the aftermath, a contrite Rarity apologizes to Rainbow Dash for getting so caught up in her beautiful wings that she forgot why she was there in the first place, and Rainbow shows a good deal of generosity of her own by graciously forgiving her. She does wish that she could have met the Wonderbolts when they were awake… Luckily, they’re right behind her, come to thank her for saving their lives. Princess Celestia also joins them, to congratulate Rainbow Dash on winning the Best Young Fliers Competition for her heroism and her Sonic Rainboom. Even the stallions come to congratulate her and apologize for their earlier behaviour. They ask if Rainbow wants to hang out… but “Sorry, boys. I’ve got plans…”
Thoughts on this Episode
I love it. Yeah, it features some bad behaviour from Rarity, but I think it’s balanced out by the fact that she was the reason the Mane Six even decided to support Rainbow in Cloudsdale. Not only did she pick up on Rainbow’s true feelings (due to putting on enough fashion shows to recognize stage fright) but she insisted they be there for her, and she stepped up to be the guinea pig for the spell with little hesitation.
Her subsequent behaviour is not far short of temporary insanity. First of all, listen to her laugh when she sees the ponies’ reaction to the sunlight through her wings. That does not sound like a mentally healthy laugh to me. Consider also the outfit she wore during the competition itself. Rarity prides herself on looking elegant, and she is anything but elegantly dressed there. The pony knows fashion, people, it’s her raison d’etre. She clearly wasn’t in her normal state of mind at the time. She also apologized profusely at the end.
It’s also a pretty heartwarming episode overall. The contrast between Fluttershy’s cheering at the beginning and end of the episode is really emotional to me, and gives good feels, while also providing some comedy of its own.
This episode provided a good glance at Rainbow’s character, showing that she can doubt herself at times, and implying that her tendency to toot her own horn might have its roots in a vulnerability she tries to keep hidden. That makes her a lot more interesting than she might have seemed beforehand. And let’s face it, she totally kicked flank in that climactic scene. She swooped into action without a thought to help her friend, despite the fact that that friend had put her through quite a trying time. And in the end, it all works out for the best. And her “ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh!” when meeting the Wonderbolts is pretty adorable too.
Visually, the episode has a lot of nice touches. Even before we see the results of the spell, in the flash of light the outline of Rarity’s wings can be seen for a frame or two. Cloudsdale looks lovely, and it’s good to have a bit of world building. The scene where Pinkie tastes the liquid rainbow is pretty funny, and the expressions on Pinkie’s face match the colours… when it’s green, she looks ill, when it’s yellow, she looks like she’s tasting something sour… and of course, this is the pony who likes to cover cupcakes in hot sauce, so if it’s too spicy for her, it must be pretty strong. You can also notice when Rainbow is being teased, she flicks her tail, very much as a horse would if irritated.
After Rainbow smashes into the library, knocking all the books down.
Fluttershy: Rainbow Dash, you rock! Woohoo!…” Surveys the scene. “Did my cheering do that?”
A bit later:
Pinkie: A flight spell? One sec. Page 27.
Applejack: How did you do that?
Pinkie: It fell on my face when Rainbow Dash knocked me into the bookcase.
Pros: Explores Rainbow Dash’s character. The action is genuinely tense and exciting. It can be quite emotional too.
Cons: None, really.
5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon!
Stay sonic side up!