Good afternoon, everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews." What's that I smell? A controversial, polarizing episode you say? Well now, this should be fun! Yes, Rainbow Dash has finally joined the Wonderbolts, and as I very much expected, this is going to be a polarizing episode that people either love or hate, so without further ado, let's dive into "Newbie Dash"!
First off, let's get the controversial aspects out of the way. I would describe this episode (as I already did earlier in this thread) as the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice of this season so far. It's undoubtedly flawed, there's no getting around that, BUT those flaws do not mean one cannot like or even love this episode. You just need to understand the flaws in order to do so. So what do I personally think is the biggest flaw? Well, it's not the Wonderbolts behavior, nor is it the fact that Rainbow Dash freaked out and made some poor decisions. Both of those can be justified and I will do later in my review. I think the biggest flaw is that Dash's poor choices came across as too impulsive and reactionary. We didn't always get great insight into WHY she was doing what she was doing beyond "she's freaking out and wants to make a good impression," so it left us wondering how exactly some of the things she was doing was supposed to make a good impression on the Wonderbolts (most notably her confusingly impersonating her friends). This made her actions seem stupider and far more cringeworthy than they were, so yes, some of her actions were sloppily executed, there is no getting around that. Really though, that was the biggest problem in the episode, and it wasn't one which, for me, ruined the episode. That out of the way, let's get into the good which saved this episode and made it a worthy start to Rainbow Dash's finally fulfilling her lifelong dream of becoming a Wonderbolt.
First of all, the beginning was fantastic. This felt like a nice balance of how Dash should learn she becomes a Wonderbolt. Too much fanfare would have felt forced, so it was nice that it was something very much unexpected for her; as far as she was concerned, she was still going to be a Wonderbolt Reservist for the foreseeable future, so to have that suddenly dropped on her made for an elated reaction of surprised shock that was raw and genuine. The fact that both Spitfire and Scootaloo were there, however, also made it meaningful; Scootaloo looks up to Rainbow more than anypony else, so to have her share in this moment for her was wonderful to see, and likewise Spitfire has long been an idol of Rainbow's, so it was great to see her deliver the news that Rainbow was finally to become a Wonderbolt, and on a permanent basis no less. Overall, that was really the best way we could've seen Dash learn she was to become a Wonderbolt; nothing felt forced or too overblown, but at the same time it was an undeniably special moment, so clearly the writers put a lot of thought into that.
Oh my gosh, what's wrong with your face?!
The Mane 6 were really strong here as well, I thought, because they gave just the right amount of support without helping too much. All they could really offer was helpful advice, but at the same time they could only influence too much since, obviously, they can't be with Rainbow as she was working with the Wonderbolts. It's a nice sign that the girls continue to get older and won't always be doing everything together as they fulfill their own personal dreams, similar to Rarity opening more dress shops or the CMC pursuing their own personal passions and hobbies away from each other. But they were still there through thick and thin for Rainbow as much as they could be, especially Fluttershy who, having grown up with Dash and being as sensitive as she is, had to especially understand how hard it must have been for Rainbow to once again get the nickname Rainbow Crash.
Rainbow herself behaved pretty much as she should have in this type of episode, some of her SPECIFIC actions aside. Yes she had cringeworthy moments, but again, they were understandable and justifiable. This is THE thing she has dreamed of her whole life. She never dreamed of being a savior of Equestria, she never dreamed of being an Element Bearer or one of the icons of the Magic of Friendship in Equestria, but she has always, always, ALWAYS dreamed of being a Wonderbolt. Therefore, her having butterflies in her stomach that made her an absolute nervous wreck was plenty understandable. She tried to be too confident, cool, and cocky, she tried to stand out too much, she tried to do anything she could to make a positive impression on ponies she'd always called her idols who were suddenly her teammates no matter how irrational it might be. It was her first days at work at what was essentially her dream job, so she can easily be forgiven for doing some stupid things. Lots of people in a similar position would and have freaked out similarly, because suddenly, the one thing you've dreamed about your entire life is a reality, and that can be mentally overwhelming. It did not help her nerves that she made such a bad first impression and kept thinking that she was this close to getting thrown right out. But in the end, Rainbow learned a fantastic lesson because of all of this, one which demands she take what she has learned as a member of the Mane 6 and apply it to her being a Wonderbolt. Being a Wonderbolt is not and was never about her shining more than anypony else; sure she had to have a ridiculous amount of talent to get there, something the Wonderbolts themselves more than recognized, but once you get there, you have to take that talent and what makes you special and channel it into making the entire group special, not just you. Rainbow has been learning this ever since she became an Element Bearer, the strength of a team, a group, how much stronger that is than any one single pony. So it was fantastic to see that she now HAS to apply what she has learned to the thing she has always dreamed of, and that is a lesson worth learning in her first outing as a Wonderbolt.
Oh Rainbow, you don't have to try to act like an egghead, you were already one
The Wonderbolts themselves, I thought, were very strong here, mostly because of the ending. Some of their hazing of Dash came across as mean-spirited at times, but the end made it abundantly clear that that's just what it was, lighthearted, ritual hazing, nothing more. Dash was the newbie, and they haze every newbie. They all have embarrassing nicknames because, in a group of the most talented fliers in Equestria, being reminded of your most embarrassing moments helps both bring ridiculously talented fliers back down to earth and also builds comradery between them all. They were also very different in their behavior, which nicely reflected their positions. Some of the regular Wonderbolts were more teasing to Rainbow while Spitfire, being the leader, was far more no-nonsense with her, even if she too still hazed her. Wonderbolt's who knew Rainbow more closely, like Soarin and Fleetfoot, were also more supportive and encouraging than some of the other ones were, and that was a nice bit of continuity. The end, where they all explained that they've all been where Dash was, completely justified their actions. They've all had her nerves, they've all been newbies, they've all had their embarrassing moments. This changed their actions throughout the episode from being mean-spirited and singling out Dash to simply being a routine part of her initiation. If they didn't care about her, they wouldn't be singling her out as the newbie but simply ignoring her. But like any rookie on a sports team, Dash is the newbie, so she has to go through the growing pains of being one as any newbie on the Wonderbolts would. The nickname isn't meanspirited like when she was bullied as a filly, it's supposed to be something she can look back on and laugh about. Some day, she'll be doing the same thing to other newbies on the Wonderbolts, and it won't be any more mean-spirited than the Wonderbolts behavior here was.
Beyond that, it was very nice finally getting a sense for how the Wonderbolts work. They take their jobs very seriously because being the best fliers in Equestria doesn't just mean they're show ponies and performers. They're leaders among ponies and the pegasi, so being able to work together as a unit and team as smoothly as possible is supremely important to them, especially their leader Spitfire. They may all be special in their own ways, but when you're a Wonderbolt, you're one of many, not just THE Wonderbolt. Call backs to their history were nice, it was cool getting to see their barracks, training, and performance, and just cool in general getting to see the whole team together, not just one or two of them like we normally do. The fact that they gave Rainbow a pat on the back and told her to keep her chin up at the end was the icing on the cake, since, once again, it highlighted that they've all been where she was. They're only ponies, after all. They've all bucked up as Wonderbolts, they've all been the newbies, so they get it, she's nervous and freaking out. But that's not going to stop them from embracing her as one of their own, which they're more than thrilled to do; after all, they know she is ridiculously talented, even more so than the rest of them. She's going to be great someday with them, she just has to get the hang of it is all.
Did... did the show suddenly become self aware of R34 and just decide to purposely give us R34 material? Cause that's what I'm getting from this episode
Aside from that, there's not too much else to cover. Seeing Scootaloo get in some nice interactions with Rainbow was really nice, as always. The humor was a bit hit and miss. Some of the physical gags (like Pinkie's cotton candy bit) felt a little forced, and some of Dash's freaking out moments could be both cringeworthy but also hilarious (best example being her Mane 6 impressions; the action itself was very confusing, but hearing Dash impersonate all her friends was hilarious and some wonderful voice acting from Ashleigh Ball as well). I actually thought the Wonderbolt's humor was the funniest, weird right? I don't want this to sound mean, but some of their hazing was genuinely funny. Not so much the nickname Rainbow Crash, but the way they started treating it so normally got quite a few giggles from me. That and how annoyed they got at Rainbow at times, mostly because I never got the sense that they were going to kick her out. They were just annoyed at her because she was the newbie of the group doing newbie things, so yeah, I thought that was pretty funny.
That's it, isn't it? Be honest writers, I mean, what else could it possibly be?!
Overall, this is an episode very much worth liking, with some stuff to love even. It has a very nice message about what achieving your dream job might actually be like at first and how one shouldn't take ribbing so seriously, while also illustrating how sometimes our nerves can wind up making us our own worst enemy. Is it flawed? Yes, it is, mostly in aspects of its execution. But that doesn't mean I don't like it, nor think this isn't what Rainbow deserved in becoming a Wonderbolt. I think this is a moment that so many people will have hyped up in their heads that, in many ways, it was always going to disappoint in some way. It's been built up too much not to. But for what they did with it, I'm very happy with how Rainbow Dash becoming a Wonderbolt turned out. She had some growing pains to go through, but she made it! SHE MADE IT GUYS!!! She's a Wonderbolt, for good, and she knows it! That's why she was so happy at the end, and we should be to. This isn't just something that happened in the final episode of the show in some two minute epilogue. Rainbow Dash is, for good, a Wonderbolt, and we get to see that for as long as the show continues!!! I don't know about you, but for me, that fact alone is the epitomy of coolness, awesomeness, and radicalness. Rainbow Dash is a Wonderbolt now and forevermore; it's canon, won't be taken away, and we get to see Rainbow for as long as the show goes on get to live her dream, not simply achieve it. That alone makes this episode completely worth it and worthy of Rainbow Dash's dream finally being brought to life. That's all I got everypony; if you still don't like it even after reading my review, no big, to each their own. But this is the best I could do to defend this episode. Until next week everypony, this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off! *cue dramatic exit*
She didn't just achieve the dream; she's living the dream, and we get to see it. I'd say that's the walking, talking definition of 20% cooler, if I do say so myself