Professionalism, Miss Harshwhinny! – Rainbow Dash
Although this episode focuses on the Cutie Mark Crusaders, it’s basically another Rainbow Dash episode. At least this one is a little bit better than the previous one. This is much more like the Dashie I know and somewhat like on a good day than the quivering fangirl mess we had before. If you’ll permit me to go off on a tangent:
In the previous episode, Rainbow did not act like herself. Many of the reviewers who had a favorable reaction to it argue that it was actually in line with her character to fangirl over Daring Do, because she has fangirled over the Wonderbolts in the past. However, the way she acted in “Daring Don’t” is very different from the way she acted previously. In the episodes “Sonic Rainboom”, “The Best Night Ever”, and “Hurricane Fluttershy”, she did squee a bit when she got to spend time with Spitfire, but she was never gushing about how cool the Wonderbolts are and how lame she is compared to them. She kept her cool, even though inside she was squealing with excitement, and didn’t let her admiration keep her from taking initiative and acting. In “Wonderbolt Academy”, she even had the gumption to go to her idol, Spitfire, and basically say, “I don’t approve of the way this is run, I’m outta here!” All of this is a remarkable contrast to her interactions with her Daring Do, at least in the first half of the episode, so I still think she was acting out of character there.
Getting back to the episode I’m supposed to be reviewing: truly, Coach Rainbow is best Dash, especially the way she has to keep reining herself in (no pun intended) in order to maintain her appearance as Rainbow “Professionalism” “Danger” Dash.
I also liked the reintroduction of Ms. Harshwhinny, although her constant “we are not amused” face was a trifle annoying to watch, and the call back to the Equestria Games from the previous season. The best part of the first scene is where the blackboard drawing that represents the “style” requirement is quite clearly Rarity.
This scene sets up the plot, where the Cutie Mark Crusaders compete for the chance to be flag bearers at the Games. Of course, they are pestered at every turn by bullies Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, especially when the CMC’s quite frankly awesome routine leaves everypony visible awed. The terrible twosome bring out their greatest weapon, “blank flank”… only to find it utterly useless against the CMC. Silver Spoon’s reaction of utter shock and confusion is one of the highlights of the episode. It also goes to show that the CMC are developing, in that they are no longer allowing their blank flank status to concern them.
Realizing they need to try a new tack, the bullies then point to Scootaloo’s inability to fly as something that will put the CMC out of the running. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle are having none of it, but this is a sore point for Scootaloo already, and the spiteful words hit their target. I have to admit, much as I like some things about DT, this really is a new low she has sunk to.
Of course, Scootaloo starts insisting that she has to be able to fly, or they’ll have no chance at winning, and nothing the other two can say budges her. This leads to their routine becoming as much of a mess as their Talent Show musical number from “The Showstoppers”, and that’s saying something. Despite her friends giving up for the night, Scoots continues to try to fly.
The day of the competition, Scootaloo is not only late to the train, but also says that she wants to stay behind so that her inability to fly won’t ruin the routine for the others. This of course makes no sense, since the whole idea behind their routine is that it represents the fact that Ponyville has all three varieties of pony living in harmony. Leaving out the pegasii component renders the whole thing meaningless and therefore bound to fail. But she’s young and currently depressed, so she gets a pass on this logic.
Apple Bloom, annoyed to the point of disgust, tells her they don’t want her anyway, and she and Belle get on the train, leaving poor dejected Scoots behind. Rainbow Dash, too excited now to be “professional”, says she hopes they win, and asks where Scootaloo is. On hearing how the two fillies treated their friend, Rainbow gives them a heck of a “What the hell, Heroes” speech, as is quite right, being the Element of Loyalty and stops the train so they can go back and fetch her.
Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, smugly satisfied that with the CMC staying behind, they’re definitely going to win, make a few mocking remarks and laugh as the train pulls away. And then Sweetie Belle delivers the line that quite literally made the episode for me: “I don’t like them one bit,” with the most deadpan expression and tone. Ah Sweetie Belle, you do get the best lines out of the CMC. That one is right up there with “Why does life have to be so ironic?” from “One Bad Apple”.
Finding Scoots moping in her room, the two apologize for leaving her, and Rainbow Dash also comes to give her some comfort, with some inspirational words about how she thinks Scoots is great regardless of her flying ability. With the CMC back to full strength, all that remains is to get to the Crystal Empire in time. Scoots and her scooter, along with some skiing gear, provide the propulsion needed, and even gets her a hoof bump from Granny Smith as she passes, in another awesome moment.
Of course, their routine is enough to get them the prize, sending even Ms. Harshwhinny herself into a tizz with its brilliance, until Rainbow Dash ironically reminds her of her earlier insistence on “professionalism”.
Now this was a much better episode. Rainbow Dash is more in character, there are some really funny and really touching moments. The CMC also seem to be developing as characters, being less worried about their blank flanks and realizing that it doesn’t have to a weakness for them all the time. Of course, apart from Dash, none of the Mane 6 are present, which is refreshing. They weren’t needed and so they weren’t added, which I think is good writing. The central conflict about Scootaloo’s inability to fly was also quite natural, and so the plot flows along quite nicely, with some good pacing.
The chalk drawing of Rarity.
The first song of Season 4 - passable but not brilliant.
Silver Spoon can’t believe that the magic phrase “blank flank” is ineffectual.
The CMC’s routine is genuinely impressive, especially with the streamers.
Sweetie Belle’s perfect lines.
Ms. Harshwhinny gushing about how awesome the CMC are.
Pros: Good character-driven plot; good pacing
Cons: A little predictable
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!
Next episode appears to be a “superpowers for a day” plot. I’ve seen it done in many cartoons, and unless it’s done with the intention to parody the superhero genre, it’s usually not very good. Not to mention the last superhero themed episode is widely considered the worst of Season 2. But let’s not dismiss it without seeing what they do with it. Until then, stay sunny side up!