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Episode 75. “Rainbow Falls”: Rainbow Shows her True Colours (As do the Wonderbolts)

Sunny Fox

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It's not easy, practicing with two teams, is it? - Twilight Sparkle

Rainbow Falls is set in the titular (and well-named) town where the qualifying rounds for the Equestria Games are being held. Rainbow Dash has joined Fluttershy and Roid Rage Snowflake Bulk Biceps in the Ponyville Relay Team, trusting that her superior speed will make up for the other two’s poor flying ability and allow them to qualify. According to Thunderlane and Blossomforth, who are part of other teams, each pony is only allowed to race in one event…Wait, that isn’t Blossomforth. *Checks credits* *Credits list a voice appearance by “Blossomforth”* Well, now, that’s just stupid.

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Accept no substitutes!

Her loyalty is put to the test when Soarin of the Cloudsdale Relay Team is injured in a training accident, and the remaining fliers, Spitfire and Fleetfoot, invite Rainbow to train with them… behind the backs of her friends.

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Are they thinking what I think they're thinking...? More importantly, is that Diamond Tiara's mom in the bottom right? :blink:

While secretly training with both teams works for a while, Twilight catches on, and confronts Rainbow, causing her to feel guilty. Her dilemma grows more horns when the Wonderbolts suggest she abandon the Ponyville Team completely to fly with them in the qualifying round, since Soarin won’t recover in time, and Ponyville has no chance to qualify in any case.

In an effort to avoid making a choice, Rainbow fakes injuries of her own, ending up in hospital… next to Soarin, who praises her friends for visiting her… he hasn’t heard from his own team, despite the fact that his wing is better already! Angry that the Cloudsdale Team is willing to drop one of their members and blatantly lie to her to get her to fly with them, Rainbow confronts them, and reaffirms her commitment to her own team. Despite not getting what they wanted, Fleetfoot and Spitfire praise Rainbow for her loyalty, and then welcome Soarin back to their team. In the end, both teams manage to qualify, and even cheer each other on. As a token of her esteem, Spitfire gives Rainbow Dash a Wonderbolt badge, which briefly shines with a rather familiar rainbow…

Analysis

This episode continues with the story arc that became apparent in Rarity Takes Manehatten. It seems there is a theme naming pattern for these episodes, with the Mane Six member featured having their name mentioned in the title. If so, we can expect the upcoming episodes entitled Pinkie Pride and Twilight Time to form a part of the ongoing plotline.

There are a number of similarities between Rarity Takes Manehatten and Rainbow Falls. Like Rarity was, Rainbow Dash is confronted with a choice between achieving a long time goal and remaining true to her friends. The mysterious rainbow that Rarity saw makes its return at the critical juncture, and it’s important to note that the colours of this rainbow are not the traditional set, but instead correspond to the colours of the coats of each Mane Six member (white, purple, pink, yellow, orange, blue). But of course, I’m no doubt telling you stuff you already knew… Both episodes also end with the featured character getting a small item of some sentimental value, which glows with the same rainbow. My belief is that each Mane Six member will be forced to give up their object in order to obtain their Key, which will look like a regular key. As for The Box itself, I expect it will contain some sort of substitute for the Elements of Harmony that they gave up in the premiere.

This episode sees Rainbow actually having to struggle with her Element of Loyalty, properly this time. As I pointed out in my review of the pilot, her loyalty was not really being tested by Nightmare Moon, since she was posing as a different flying team, so the temptation was far less than it could have been. Here, though, it actually is the Wonderbolts who want her to join them, which makes it that much more of a struggle for Rainbow to do the right thing. She actually has a true conflict of interests here, and I don’t blame her at all for feeling ambivalent.

I also really like that Spitfire and Fleetfoot both come off as somewhat of a pair of smug jerks. This is exactly what was missing from the episode Daring Don’t. Rainbow Dash is forced to confront the fact that her idols might not be as noble as she might wish them to be, and chooses not to emulate them. And even then, it’s kind of understandable… they think Rainbow is a better choice for their team, and being competitive as they are, and lacking the in-built need to be loyal, they naturally want her to fly with them. Despite their actions not being exactly noble, they do acknowledge that they were in the wrong, and praise Rainbow for making the right choice and sticking with her friends. It was a good dash of realism (pardon the pun) in a show that can be a bit too simplistic at times.

Is it just me, or does anyone else get a subtle shipping vibe from Fluttershy and Bulk? He seems to do a lot of things to impress or amuse Fluttershy, and she seems quite happy to let him, plus he really seems to hate looking stupid in front of her… intriguing…

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P is for... Embarrassment.

No episode is perfect, though, and Rainbow Falls is no exception. For a start, and speaking of Bulk Biceps (how did his parents know to name him that?), he is suffering heavily from Depending on the Writer here. If he was such a weak flier as he is presented in this episode, how in the hay did he ever manage to get the nod for Wonderbolt Academy and why was he never shown to struggle with flying in that episode? Another question mark is why nopony but Twilight could see through Rainbow’s faking. It should have been entirely obvious, especially to Fluttershy, who regularly nurses animals back to health, and therefore should know when somepony is truly injured.

Pros: Finally presents a proper conflict of loyalty for Rainbow Dash; continues The Box story arc; Gives a bit more depth to Rainbow as well as her idols, the Wonderbolts; Has nice call backs to previous episodes.

Cons: Bulk Biceps is contrary to how he was established in earlier episodes; Some questionable gullibility from the Mane Six; That wasn’t Blossomforth.

 

Final Rating
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!

PS: Oh, yeah, and Derpy was in this episode too, wasn’t she? I don’t particularly care for Derpy, but I’m glad for the sake of her fans that she was included in this episode and that she hasn’t been cut from the show.

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I have a question - where was the conflict in Rainbow's loyalty? She betrayed her friends for the Wonderbolts when the chance first opened! And then it took until Twilight had guilt tripped Rainbow into a conflict of loyalty.

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On 8/28/2014 at 3:35 PM, Ludicrous.Speed said:

I have a question - where was the conflict in Rainbow's loyalty? She betrayed her friends for the Wonderbolts when the chance first opened! And then it took until Twilight had guilt tripped Rainbow into a conflict of loyalty.

At first, it didn't seem like a problem for her, she could train with both teams. And even that took a great deal of persuasion on the part of Fleetfoot and Spitfire. In that scene, she looks back and forth between the qualification area and her Ponyville team a few times, before finally agreeing to go along with the others' plans.

Before that, there were many scenes where Rainbow looks to be comparing her team to the Cloudsdale team, and finds them coming up short, eventually even going so far as to doubt they can qualify at all. It's a subtle build up that I think many of the episode's critics simply don't see.

But the real conflict only starts when there is something at stake... if RD joins the Cloudsdale team permanently, Ponyville will have NO chance to qualify. Don't forget, this is something RD has yearned for since the beginning of the series... flying with the best of the best, her personal heroes (she even says that exact line at one point.) No wonder she's over the moon at the thought, and not really thinking of the consequences. Then it falls to Twilight to point out exactly what her decision would mean for all her friends, and bring her back down to Equestrian Earth... exactly what a good friend should do.

If you can't see the ambivalence that RD is displaying throughout the episode, I would suggest you rewatch it, keeping what I have said in mind. It's pretty clear. :D 

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