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  1. Good evening, everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! This week's episode, while not quite as surprisingly excellent as last week's, was still, nonetheless, quite exceptional for what it was. Our last Cutie Mark Crusader episode of the season, "Marks and Recreation" features the CMC starting a Cutie Mark day camp for blank flanks, mostly so that they can help more than one at a time. However, trouble arises when Rumble decides he'd rather remain a blank flank than get his cutie mark, and convinces the other campers to do the same. Without further ado, this is "Marks and Recreation." So one thing that particularly stood out to me about this episode to start off is simply how many fillies and colts it featured. Now make no mistake, we've seen plenty of ponies from the CMC's age group before, oftentimes in episodes featuring them in school. The difference between those episodes and this one, however, are that, normally, most of the ponies there are mostly background characters. They might have some jokes or bits here and there, but for the most part they're not exactly critical to the plot. Here, however, not only was Rumble one of the main characters, but at least 2-3 of the other fillies and colts, including Pipsqueak, Kettle Corn, and Skeedaddle, were all supporting characters actively involved in the main events of the episode. Hell, Kettle Corn got her bucking cutie mark, then disowned it, and then re-embraced it all in the same episode! All in all, it was just very pleasing seeing how much young ponies besides the CMC featured in this episode, and I certainly wouldn't mind seeing more episodes like this one in that regard. Where this episode suffered for that, however, might just have been with the CMC themselves. Don't get me wrong, for the most part the CMC were perfectly fine. Their day camp idea was great, they were doing an awesome job counseling their friends, and they moved the action of the episode along just fine. However, when you get down to it, most of this episode (including its resolution even) is driven by Rumble and Thunderlane. The CMC usually facilitate most of what's going on, but this didn't really seem like an episode where they learned anything at all, they simply helped a friend learn a valuable lesson, but really his big brother helped him learn that more than they did. I wouldn't mind that the CMC kind of took a backseat in certain respects (again, make no mistake, they were still main characters, just not as explicitly as they usually are), if it weren't for one thing. The writers for some reason felt the need to force the CMC to not realize that Rumble was phoning in every one of his "attempts" to do any camp activities. The only reason I can figure they may have felt the need to do this is because the CMC didn't realize what fears about cutie marks Rumble may have had until Thunderlane told them he was good at all of the things they thought he wasn't good at, which led them to realize he was deliberately failing at them because he didn't want to get a cutie mark at something other than flying. I can kind of understand their reasoning, but at the same time, with how smart the CMC as a whole are - not to mention how obvious some of Rumble's "failure" at the camp activities were, seriously, the guy couldn't have been more obvious that he simply wasn't trying if he, well, tried - it felt really forced that they honestly thought he just wasn't good at any of these things. It doesn't break the whole episode or anything, it just felt like unnecessarily forced writing. Overall, however, the CMC had a pretty solid episode, and Sweetie Belle in particular gets props for easily the funniest moment of the episode when she straight up broke out her own version of a "Rarity freakout." They really should start charging for their cutie mark services at some point if this really is what they're meant to do their whole lives... oh don't look at me like that, YOU WOULD TOO IF YOU HAD TO!!! Thankfully, even though the CMC weren't exactly the bright spots of this episode, the true bright spots more than made up for it. First we've got Rumble, who prior to this has only appeared in minor supporting or background roles before. Here, excellently voiced by Vincent Tong (deliciously feeding the rumors that DHX intentionally casts him in roles that are at least somewhat douchey), he serves for most of the episode as its main antagonist before finally learning an incredibly valuable lesson. His fear for most of the episode is that if he tries something other than honing his flying skills, then he may accidentally get his cutie mark in something else that'll keep him from becoming a Wonderbolt like his older brother, Thunderlane. This is great on a couple of levels. First, speaking as an older sibling myself, I can totally see where a fear like this would come from for a younger sibling like Rumble. Younger siblings often can feel like they're in their older siblings shadow in terms of personal achievements and life goals, and may even struggle with figuring out what they want to do even as a result, especially if they idolize their elder sibling to a point that they want to be just like them. This is obviously not the case with all siblings, but it very often can be, and here that's clearly the case (though Rumble does seem to have some insecurity issues as well considering he clearly doesn't just idolize Thunderlane, he makes it very clear at certain points that he wants to be as cool as him, but not just thought of as Thunderlane's little brother). In all honesty, as a big brother, I do have to say as well that I wouldn't have had any complaints if Thunderlane had smacked some sense into Rumble THIS way instead On another level, it was great seeing the show once again delve into the lore of cutie marks and what concerns ponies might have about them, especially growing up. They're so commonplace in pony society that it's actually quite believable that most ponies would take them for granted and simply assume that everypony will "get" cutie marks (not just physically get them, but understand what they're deal is and what they mean to them). But the show has made it quite clear at this point that they do not mean the same thing for everypony, and that many ponies in going about getting them don't even quite understand what it'll mean for them when they do get them. With young ponies like those mostly featured in this episode, that was clearly the case, so it wasn't that surprising that they could be convinced by a pony like Rumble that cutie marks would just put them into a "special box," forcing them to pursue one thing for the rest of their lives while foregoing all other activities. That's even a relatable fear for children in general. Growing up, I think most of us at some point like to think we could basically be anything we want to be, but in the back of our heads (especially as we get older) that creeping notion that at some point we're going to have to be one thing in particular is always there, and I think a fear for kids who dwell on that too much is that they're not going to be able to try other things once that happens. Thankfully, by the show's end all of the younger ponies, including Rumble, had realized that they can do all sorts of things no matter what their cutie mark ends up being. Just because they're cutie mark signifies what they have a special talent for doing doesn't mean that's the only thing they'll ever be able to do, or even be good at or enjoy doing. Likewise, with adults in the real world, just because our careers may be in one particular field doesn't mean we can't do plenty of other pursuits in our spare time, whether they be hobbies, ways of giving back to the community, or other activities. It's sometimes hard work fitting everything we want to do in (something briefly indicated by Apple Bloom realizing she hadn't made potions with Zecora in some time), but balancing time to fit a lot of different activities into our lives is part of being an adult, and a skill that is more than worth cultivating. Overall, I was very impressed with the moral revolving around Rumble in this episode, plus just pleased to see a character like him as the episode's focus. So just how did Rumble come to his realization by the end of the episode that cutie marks keep you from doing anything else? Well, partly with the help of the CMC, but mostly because of his older brother, Thunderlane, another long time minor supporting/background character (voiced quite excellently by Trevor Devall, who actually voiced him way back in Season 2 and Season 4 as well, with, impressively enough, pretty much the exact same voice). Earlier this season we got an excellent revelation that Thunderlane, like Rainbow Dash, had actually become a Wonderbolt as well, which in many ways helped normalize the group quite a bit as well as not make Rainbow Dash look SO unusual as a member. Having two members from Ponyville makes it clear that you don't just have to be a Rainbow Dash-tier flier to get in, as well as emphasizes nicely that Thunderlane ain't too shabby himself when it comes to flying. Well here, the fact that he was a Wonderbolt was also, as discussed earlier, critical to the plot and Rumble's own insecurities about getting a cutie mark. First he got Rumble involved in the day camp to begin with, hoping that it might help Rumble explore a variety of activities he might enjoy and broaden his horizons, not to mention have fun with other fillies and colts while he was at it. But when the CMC finally confronted Thunderlane about Rumble's fears, he realized just how bad some of Rumble's insecurities were and set out to make things right, for both him and the other campers he'd persuaded to ditch the CMC's day camp. This final scene was excellent, showcasing both a Wonderbolt doing some normal, community service as a role model for younger ponies on his own time (something I've always, desperately wanted to see considering it just seems natural that members of a group like that would give back to their communities in ways like that, not just go around engaging in photo ops or autograph signings), as well as Thunderlane just trying to be a good older brother, reassuring Rumble that he doesn't have to worry about his cutie mark sticking him into one corner only. This is especially highlighted when he tells his brother how much he discovered he loved cooking once his service with the Wonderbolts forced him to take it up at points, and they then proceed to have some sibling bonding as they help cook a meal together. While Thunderlane was able to help the other ponies at the camp as a Wonderbolt, he was able to help Rumble as his older brother, and the presentation of both was fantastic. I'd love to see more of Thunderlane and Rumble in the future after this, and it was a true treat getting to see both of them get such big roles here alone. Besides those two, the rest of the supporting cast was a delight. Little Pipsqueak was adorkable as ever in his tiny, cute British-y way, though it would have been nice to see him make some progress on the cutie mark front. Ah well, I'm sure he'll discover his true calling as a worshiper of all things Princess Luna and/or the Night in general at some point in time soon enough. Skeedaddle was pretty funny here as well, both in his helping Kettle Corn discover her cutie mark in his leading the others in their haiku writing activity, as well as with some funny lines like "What if I get my cutie mark in being bored?" BUT, I have to say that out of all the supporting characters in this episode, the one who stole the show for me was, without a doubt, Kettle Corn. Holy shit, this filly had it all. First, she develops an obsession with painting circles (and they were always, ALWAYS the exact same circle, slightly unfinished even if you looked at them closely). That, however, does not turn out to be her cutie mark. What does turn out to be her cutie mark? BUCKING HAIKU WRITING, THAT'S WHAT!!! In fact, once she discovers that's her special talent, she starts saying haikus naturally in her speech (even when she's trying to repress her special talent), and it is as bucking hilarious as it sounds. And yet, despite all of that, she still loves, you guessed it, PAINTING CIRCLES!!! Even when she disowns her cutie mark and joins Rumble's group, she still. Loves. Painting. CIRCLES!!!! I don't know why I'm so obsessed with everything this little filly got up to in this episode. I think it's a combination of the fact that (1) she is pretty bucking adorable, along with (2) just how bizarre and hilarious both her special talent as well as her interest in painting circles was. In any case, for a first time character, this filly left a wonderful first impression in both how cute and hilarious she was, and frankly I kinda want to see more of her, I won't lie. Kettle Corn: she SERIOUSLY needs some circles and haikus in her life ASAP OK, I have to admit that if this is really what the writers were doing in depicting how Kettle Corn painted her circles, then I have to say... bravo, BUCKING BRAVO, that's a scary awesome and subtle detail to include for a character whose special talent is coming up with haikus! I mean... wow, talk about mind blown, right? Just got a few other miscellaneous items to cover before we wrap things up. The return to Camp Friendship, the same day camp where Applejack and Coloratura became friends as young fillies, was a fun callback to Season 5 (though I wouldn't have minded seeing AJ here if that were at all possible, even more so Coloratura even). Rumble's song "Blank Flanks Forever," while hardly one of the show's best tunes, was pretty fun and upbeat (even if it was a minor antagonist's song), though I do have one bone to pick with it that's REALLY silly. At one point in the song some of the fillies and colts in the background are waving their hooves back and forth to emulate finger snapping, like you might encounter in an old, 1950's doo-wop number. I can see why, in concept, this idea might have sounded bucking hilarious to the storyboard artists who most likely came up with it, but in execution it looked bucking stupid. I know I shouldn't overthink it, but WHY THE BUCK WOULD THEY DO THAT??? They have no concept of digits, why would they emulate finger snapping if they don't know what the buck finger snapping is??? Am I totally overthinking this? Yes, yes I am, but I don't care, this was bucking stupid, even if it was meant as a gag. Other than that, however, I had no issue with the song itself; hardly Season 7's best tune, but pretty fun nonetheless. Other than that, I've got nothing else to add. This was just a fun CMC episode with a very good, well-written lesson at its heart, and a great note to send the CMC out on for Season 7. Until next time, everypony, this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit* If we're all being honest with ourselves, we've all probably shipped Rumble with Sweetie Belle or Scootaloo at SOME point in time, so don't even pretend you haven't
  2. Gooooood afternoon everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"!!! Well... right now, I don't know what else to say but this... Why is that? Well, that's the first word that comes to mind regarding the latest episode of MLP to premiere in the U.S., "Parental Glideance." This episode simply had it all, every single thing that I could possibly love about a single episode of MLP rolled into one. It was just a delightful, perfect 22 minutes of television, and to understand why, we need to dive into what makes an episode like this so very remarkable. This is gonna be one hell of a review ya'll, so without wasting anymore time or dawdling about, let's dive right in. This is "Parental Glideance." The 'It' Factors: Why This Episode Soars (1) Bow Hothoof and Windy Whistles Alright, so since at least Season 2 the fandom has been begging, and I do mean BEGGING, to see more of the Mane 6's parents, and to date our desire to see more of their parents has never been quite sated. The closest we've come to doing so has been in some of Pinkie Pie's episodes featuring her family, including her parents (which I love since we usually get to see them in a more normal setting, even if Pinkie is usually there for special get-togethers) and Fluttershy's parents in "Flutter Brutter" (again, another very good appearance because we got to see her parents in their home, learn that they were retired, and the conflict was even centered around Fluttershy helping them get Zephyr Breeze out of the house). That said, up until today we had never had an episode entirely centered around one of the Mane 6's parents themselves from start to finish, and our hunger for such an episode remained unsated. After "Parental Glideance," however... well, if anything I want more episodes like this even more now, but I will admit that my hunger for an episode centered around a Mane 6 character's parents has been temporarily sated, at least. This episode introduced us almost immediately to none other than Rainbow Dash's parents, Bow Hothoof and Windy Whistles (surprisingly distinct names when I think myself and many others in the fandom were long worried that their names would be rainbow-related as well in some fashion). How were they? The first word that comes to mind is delight, as in they were absolutely a delight! These two are the walking, talking, living, breathing definition of "superfan parent." Aside from a very hilarious gag at the beginning of the episode about how confused they both were by Scootaloo's shrieks of fangirling, Bow and Windy spent most of the episode just showing how much they adore their daughter in every single way possible, and probably also ways you never thought possible. You wanna know what the most incredible part of it all was? IT WORKED HERE! The superfan parent, like so many other things in MLP, is not a concept that they invented or pulled out of a hat, this is something one encounters in both real life and popular media. In both settings, superfan parents can very often, easily be insufferable, especially as characters, and it's easy to see why. Superfan parents are by definition an extreme, and almost always when depicted in media operate in extremes; thus, here's how they usually get bucked up, (1) the parents come across to the audience as genuinely annoying when they're not supposed to, thereby undercutting anything that's supposed to be endearing about them, (2) the child or children of the superfan parents come off as overreacting to their parents love and adoration, thereby undercutting any degree to which we're supposed to sympathize with their exasperation at their parents behavior, or (3) the child and parents are both Flanderized and given the Mary Sue/Gary Stu treatment, meaning the child accepts the parents over-the-top behavior as perfectly normal and they and the parents get along in complete harmony, and we as the audience are supposed to enjoy this dynamic, when to the audience it simply seems that the parents live only for the child alone and all parties in the family are unrealistically perfect, if not downright obnoxious, in how much they love each other. All three of these scenarios are failures of this trope that it is very easy for it to fall into, because, as I said, it does inherently require extreme behavior to some extent from the parents. So while the failures are understandable, when they happen, they nonetheless make the superfan parent a trope that is all too easily more often than not an annoying one. This was, I am pleased to say, not the case in the slightest in this episode. Bow Hothoof and Windy Whistles, despite being superfan parents in every sense of the word, despite having multiple rooms dedicated to their daughter (presumably an only child, but not yet officially confirmed, but c'mon, until I hear otherwise, I am assuming that RD is an only child), about a million types of cheers prepared for her and situations in which to cheer her on, and even a framed diaper of hers, never really came off as that annoying. Oh don't get me wrong, you could understand at points why they were being too much for RD to handle, but that is required for the superfan parent trope to work. It ensured that they did not just come off as a Mary Sue and Gary Stu, but instead as fallible parents prone to embarrassing their daughter in the course of showing how much they love her, as any parent should be. That was really the secret to making them so likable. Most other ponies, including RD and her Wonderbolt teammates, were aware that her parents were being a bit much, but besides RD almost everypony else took it in stride because they knew it was just a couple of parents loving their daughter. These little interactions made it easier for us to accept their behavior as endearing; none of it was really causing any issues for RD, it's not like she was being threatened with losing her spot on the Wonderbolts (I can distinctly recall a number of times where the superfan parent trope has led to a situation where the child of the parents is threatened with losing their job or some other BS if their parents don't tone it down), the worst they did was go a little overboard in their praise for Rainbow Dash (the towel-hanging cheer was too much even for me) and do a couple of not-so-safe things like shoot fireworks at her show. Awwwwwwww, look how much they love watching their daughter! SUPERFAN PARENTS ALL THE WAY!!! OK guys, that's enough, don't wanna get too excited now do we? C'mon guys, cut it- OH BUCK, THAT'S A FIREWORK CANNON, YUP, THAT'S A CANNON THAT IS FLINGING FIREWORKS, HOW DID YOU EVEN GET THAT IN HERE PAST SECURITY YOU CRAZY BUCKS!!! Overall, however, my biggest takeaway from these two was just what a good thing their love for their daughter was. Really, I mean it. That's really the secret to making the superfan parent trope work as a whole; they need to seem both real, even fallible and embarrassing, but when all is said and done their love for their child must both be at the core of who they are as characters and a likable quality, even if it's a bit much at times. That's what I got from start to finish here with these two. They lived and breathed RD, but not in a way that was harmful to their own well-being or their daughter's. Every fiber of their being was devoted to helping their daughter become the best pony she could be, letting her know that she was the best pony she could possibly be in their eyes no matter what she did, and letting as many ponies know as possible just how much they love their daughter. It didn't come off as coddling, or overbearing, or their only character trait whatsoever. From the little we gathered about the two of them at the start of their episode, they lead their own lives and RD is NOT their only pastime or hobby; Bow came off as perfectly normal when he was *snickers* mowing their cloud lawn at the start of the episode (speaking of which, I just realized he almost pushed the mower into Scootaloo's head... thankfully it was just an old fashioned push mower, otherwise I would've been more concerned about her safety), and Windy seems to have some kind of obsession with Princess Celestia based on her collection of both Princess Celestia commemorative plates and some kind of Princess Celestia figurines in the background. But the love they have for their daughter is still a core of their character and who they are, but here it simply worked all the way through. Sure they generally behaved in a manner that varied between energetic and highly kinetic to downright frantic, but that worked because they're Rainbow Dash's parents and she's acted the same way plenty of times. The fact that they were like little schoolfillies whenever they talked about their daughter was downright adorable, and their cheering segments were some of the funniest parts of the entire episode. Heck, it was so endearing that I found myself even wanting what they have, in a general sense; that kind of unhinged, unmitigated, unconditional love that only a parent could feel for their children in such indescribably wonderful ways, and hey, I'm very much hoping I do get the opportunity to feel that sensation some day! All in all, I would love to see these two again after their first appearance. They did what is the toughest thing for any new character in the show these days to do, they added a real layer of heart to the show, and it was especially gratifying to see the parents of a Mane 6 character do so. What more can I say other than I totally dug these two, am totally onboard the Bow Hothoof/Windy Whistles bandwagon, and can't wait to see more of them. Stand up and give these two a cheer everypony! Just, eh, don't bring any firework cannons... This... I want this... I want to give this some day to a kid of my own so badly now (well, even more than I did before) (2) Scootaloo The other heart of this episode, besides Rainbow Dash's parents, was oddly not Rainbow Dash at all, it was Scootaloo. In fact, I'd say this episode was more of a Scootaloo episode than a Rainbow Dash episode. Oh sure, Rainbow Dash learned the lesson here, but I don't think the point of this episode was the lesson learned, at least not entirely. The point was contrasting Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash, stand-ins for two types of kids; those with incredibly loving parents who might embarrass them on occasion in how much they love them... and those without such parents. Scootaloo flat out says at one point in this episode that she's never had the kind of parental support that Rainbow Dash has to this day from her parents; while this is not by any means a sure confirmation of the "Scootaloo is an orphan" fan theories, it's the closest we've ever come to it being confirmed. There are now only two options left: (1) Scootaloo is an orphan, or (2) she has incredibly neglectful parents, both of which would be devastating. I suppose there is a third scenario possible in which her parents knew from the start that she couldn't fly and so never really encouraged her to be her best in order to keep her safe, but I doubt that's the case. Anyways, without deviating too much, Scootaloo is in my estimation the heart of this episode. Among the CMC, I would argue that right now she's actually the most innocent of the three still for a very particular reason (and no, it's not just because she sounds the youngest of them because her VA's voice has changed the least, though that does help). We now know after this episode that Scootaloo has spent the entirety of the show kind of building herself a surrogate family, between her friends, Rainbow Dash, and now Bow Hothoof and Windy Whistles. All her life she's wanted to follow Rainbow Dash's example, and in this episode she got so much joy just from seeing how Rainbow Dash turned out the way she was because of how her parents raised her. My takeaway from this is that Scootaloo, more than Apple Bloom or Sweetie Belle, is the most appreciative of the CMC of the simplest blessings and joys in life. Things like RD's mom making RD her favorite sandwich, or her parents giving her a trophy room with all sorts of childhood mementos, scrapbooking every second of her life that they could, cheering her on at every opportunity that they could get, these are things which Scootaloo holds as precious because, based on what we've seen and she said, she's never had that. She knows that it's not the effects of what they do that are what count, but just the fact that they're doing them, THAT'S the love, and that's what she wants more than anything else. It's not being the best that matters to her (she may say she wants to be just like Rainbow Dash, but she's so different from Rainbow Dash, and not just physically), it's just having someone pushing you to be your best, someone there for you no matter what. If nothing else, you could just tell how much joy it was bringing to Scootaloo to even feel like she was sharing in RD's family's experiences, even just a little bit. I think more than anything else, the final scene confirms that she is the true heart of this episode. Rainbow Dash may have learned the biggest lesson here, but Scootaloo got the most out of all of this. Not only did she get to learn where Rainbow Dash came from and what helped make her into the pony she'd become, but because of how she helped remind her of that in showing RD how great she had it in comparison to herself and so many other colts and fillies, she also got even more of a family out of it. It seems that both her personality rubbing off on the two, as well as possibly RD telling her parents that Scootaloo could use a little more support in her own life, has led to Bow Hothoof and Windy Whistles treating her as something of a surrogate daughter by the end of the episode as well, much as Rainbow Dash treats Scootaloo already as a surrogate sister. It's hard to exactly say how much this is the case since the most they do is give her a cheering section after getting her report grade, but the fact that they even made cheer-gear for her would suggest they're pretty serious about this, and the look on Scootaloo's face when they do so says it all. Just look at her, she looks like she's about shed tears of joy! Rainbow got reminded of how important her family is to her by somepony who knows because there's probably nothing more she'd want than a family that's always there for her, and that filly may have just gotten her wish to some extent. So here's hoping we see Scootaloo more with RD and her family, she had a great outing, one of her best episodes in quite some time, and hopefully got something she's always dreamed of, a family that loves her. Also, her fangirling was adorable as buck, I'm sorry, it just needed to be said. Hnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggg... TOO... CUTE!!! (3) Backstory and Continuity... Lots and Lots of Backstory and Continuity... Spoken and Unspoken Jeric told me yesterday that the writer of this episode, Josh Hamilton (a first time MLP:FiM writer), has written in the past for Avatar: The Last Airbender and the The Legend of Korra. So needless to say, he has some good credentials. Nonetheless, the debut he made in this show was simply shocking for me, namely in his handling of show continuity. This episode gives backstory galore, and not just with Rainbow Dash. In fact, I finished this episode not thinking of it as the best Rainbow Dash episode ever, but rather the best episode about Rainbow Dash I've ever seen, if that makes sense. In case it doesn't, let's just count all of the backstory we get in this episode. #1. Rainbow Dash's Backstory - so before this episode we knew how RD got her cutie mark and helped Fluttershy and the other Mane 6 get theirs (inadvertently), but we never knew much else besides that about her childhood. Well here, we got filly RD galore. The flashbacks themselves were pretty simple and just showed her on the podium for flying competitions (although they had far more depth than one would initially assume, but we'll get to that later), but there were dozens of photos (most of which we could make out) of Rainbow Dash littered throughout this episode. Most of them showed Rainbow as a filly or foal (which was adorable), and showed us either (1) some stage of her life, or (2) just served as testament to the many ways in which her parents loved her. Regardless, it was a nice bit of silent backstory (which is what I mean by things unspoken, though it is hardly the only bit of backstory or continuity unspoken in this episode), and a nice recognition from the writers that not all backstory needs to be given in flashbacks or exposition alone. You can convey things about characters lives in all kinds of ways, not just by straight up telling us. Oh, but we're just getting started. #2. Rainbow Dash and the Wonderbolts - this was a nice little bit of continuity that would be easy to miss, but I think it came up enough that it's worth noting. This was one of the first episodes where we really got to see Rainbow as a normal, full-fledged Wonderbolt, and it showed. While I wouldn't say the Wonderbolts have treated her badly or anything since she joined them ("Newbie Dash" was way more RD's fault than theirs), she only joined them last season (approximately a season ago actually as of this episode), and since then it's still felt fresh. Well here, it didn't, it actually felt like she was just another member, albeit an exceptional one, of the Wonderbolts. She had a normal rapport with them, she knew her place in their routines, they're even doing favors for her. Heck, even the ways they rib her felt normal; she's clearly still one of the younger ones, but Spitfire and Fleetfoot never gave her anymore crap about her parents than they should have. In fact, Spitfire didn't really say anything at all other than get a little miffed initially by their training getting interrupted (oh, and getting her poor tail cut off, and frankly she should have been madder about that), and Fleetfoot spent a lot of the episode trying to reassure RD that her parents weren't being that bad (although she did steal RD's shit-eating grin from "Daring Don't," but I don't mind, because that smug face is spectacular and frankly we need to see it more, and it was perfectly called for in that scene... keep doing your thing Fleetfoot, I love when our favorite lisping pegasus gets all sassy). Overall, like I said, it was really cool seeing RD just being another one of the Wonderbolts; she might be their captain someday considering she's that good of a flier, but frankly, right now, she's clearly just happy to be living her dream as one of the fliers she always dreamed of being. I like that, and I'm glad we got to get a real look at that and her normal, Wonderbolt responsibilities. Not to mention they were all super awesome for doing that really, really, really nice favor for her at the end, that was cool to see. I love so much that at this point they're pretty much this other subset of friends for RD, albeit on a professional basis. Dayummmmmm girllllll, you just somehow captured, like, all of the sass and smugness in all of Equestria in one look, and it looks amazing!!! Also, now that I think about it, this could double as a flirty look... I'm not gonna take that strain of thought any further, just think about it for yourselves and what scenario would demand THAT being used as a flirty look. #3. Thunderlane's a Wonderbolt - Holy shit, Thunderlane's a Wonderbolt now! When did this happen? I don't know, but I don't care, it's just really cool that he's a Wonderbolt now. I think we'd seen him in the Wonderbolt Reserves before, but based on the one shot of him in the Wonderbolts locker room, in an actual Wonderbolt uniform, not a Reserves uniform, I can only conclude that Thunderlane is now a Wonderbolt. This is super cool because now RD is no longer even the only flier from Ponyville in the Wonderbolts; we've seen Thunderlane since Season 2 and as far as we know he still lives in Ponyville. Also it makes it actually a little clearer how difficult it is to get into the Wonderbolts, or rather, the level of flying that is required. Since RD was the flier we largely followed for six seasons trying to get into the Wonderbolts, it always seemed like it was damn near impossible to get in. But Thunderlane is clearly just an exceptional flier, nowhere near RD's level, but very good nonetheless. The fact that he's in now makes it clear that there is actually a bit of a range one encounters in the levels of talent among the fliers in the Wonderbolts. Not all of them are going to be at RD's level or even close necessarily, they just have to be better than most fliers. It's still an elite unit, but it's nice having a better sense of who gets in there now. #4. Other Wonderbolts Continuity - Not much to say here other than Vapor Trail and Sky Stinger showing up super briefly (in Wonderbolt Reserves uniforms), which was nice to see. And at least Sky Stinger didn't talk this time; he may not be a douchebag anymore, but that doesn't change the fact that he still sounds like a douchebag. Anyways, I did enjoy seeing those two ever so briefly, nice bit of Season 6 continuity there. He's so much less annoying when he's not talking, and she's as adorable as ever... YOU'RE STILL TOO GOOD FOR HIM, VAPOR!!! #5. THE GREATEST THING YOU'LL EVER SEE - OK, so this may be just a bit of an exaggeration here, BUT this last bit of silent backstory was a real game changer. Did it have anything to do with Rainbow Dash? No, not really. The Wonderbolts? Not really, even though they're there too. Well then who, you might ask? DERPY. BUCKING. HOOVES. THAT'S WHO!!! In a span of about 10 seconds, Derpy got perhaps the most important piece of backstory we've ever seen her get, and it all comes down to her eyes. In the flashback where Rainbow Dash is describing how embarrassing her parents were, we clearly see Derpy at first on top of the podium among the young fliers, clearly the best of them all. When RD mentions that she was the youngest in that entire group, we learn quite a bit already, namely that Derpy (and about every other pony she was flying with there) is older than her (which actually makes sense, fans have long speculated that RD is one of the youngest of the Mane 6). But then when RD starts showing her progression higher and higher in the flier standings, we see simultaneously Derpy getting lower and lower. Why? HER EYES! Her eyes continue to get progressively worse as she gets lower in the standings. Combine this with the single shot of her in the Ponyville Hospital in "Where the Apple Lies" with bandages over her eyes, and suddenly, without a single word being said about it, WE HAVE US A CANON BACKSTORY OF SOME KIND FOR DERPY HOOVES! HOLY SHIT! What we know right now for sure is that (1) she used to be a really good flier, (2) her eyes used to be straight, (3) she got worse at flying, and probably clumsier, when her eyes started getting worse, (4) she tried and failed to get them fixed in her late teens or young adulthood, and (5) she is now perfectly happy living with them as they are. Holy buck, that is a crapload of backstory for a bucking BACKGROUND PONY!!! A BACKGROUND PONY!!! Needless to say, this was the single most important thing in the episode for me seeing as it involves my best pony, and that's saying quite a lot considering this was a bucking great episode. But this, I want so badly more backstory like THIS!!! SO, SO, SO MUCH!!! Josh Hamilton, thank you for such a lovely and unexpected treat, and writers, please take notes, we want more things like this. For all I know, this could be even setting up a future Derpy-centric episode, and if it is, I am going to go NUTS!!! I'm not even sure anyone will be able to console me and bring me down from the high that shall be achieved, it would be truly epic in its proportions. The Lesson, And What It Means To All The Rainbow Dashes and Scootaloos Out There So like I said, this is not a Rainbow Dash episode to me so much as an episode about Rainbow Dash. And really, the lesson was not just directed at Rainbow Dash, or kids or adults like Rainbow Dash. The lesson was directed at all the Rainbow Dashes AND Scootaloos out there. For all like RD, the lesson was something akin to the same one that learned by a certain character in a certain recent Marvel flick (I won't spoil anything for those who haven't seen it, but I'll just leave this song here for those who have, and they'll know what I'm talking about), that being that there are things in life that, while you have them it's easy to take them for granted. With parents, especially parents like RD's with love, praise, support, and encouragement so bottomless to the point that it can be embarrassing at times, it's REALLY easy for someone like RD to take them for granted. But then she's confronted by Scootaloo, a pony who's never had what she had, and suddenly she's confronted with wondering what would have been if she never had her parents, or possibly even wondering what if she didn't have them tomorrow? Suddenly, what RD was confronted with more than anything was the single question, "Had she taken them for granted, and what if they didn't really know how much she loved them for always being there for her? What if they never knew?" More important than anything she's ever achieved is simply that her parents have been there for her every step of the way, so the least RD figures she can do for them is try to be there for them as much as they've been there for her. That's what family does, no matter what we end up doing with our lives, the very least and most we have to give each other is all the love and support that we can, and it's a wonderful lesson that RD learned, truly. As for Scootaloo, while she didn't really learn anything in quite the same way that RD did, I think what she did learn is to never stop hoping for the support and love that she's always wanted. Even if she'll never get it from her actual parents, whether they're dead, abandoned her, or just really neglectful, she learned that there are other ponies out there ready at a moment's notice to give her the love and support she's always wanted. It just took a little searching to find. For all the other Scootaloos out there, it's a lesson to never give up hoping for the love you may not have gotten from those who should have given it to you most. You just might have to find it elsewhere, and it may be hard, and there may be a lot of hurt along the way, but if you look hard enough, it just may be out there for you. Overall, just never stop hoping and looking, because you'll never know when you might find it; before you know it, you might have your very own family lifting you on their shoulders (or hooves) cheering you on for the B you just got on your awesome report, moldy sandwich included. Aesthetic Notes Just a couple of things to note about the, as always, amazing animation. First, it was great seeing so much of Cloudsdale, as well as seeing Scootaloo up there finally (though the best part of that was seeing how she got up there). Second, wing expressions, I NEED MORE OF THESE! They were incredibly creative and I feel like we haven't seen nearly enough of them. Finally, Windy Whistles was adorable as buck, and there were quite a few shots which you can compare to past RD stills and see quite a bit of similarity between the two. So A-plus to the animators for giving her a distinct character design (and an adorable one at that) while still making her clearly RD's mom in appearance, especially in the face and some of her expressions. Minor, Minor, Minor Gripes OK, so despite saying this is a perfect episode, I have just a handful of minor, minor, minor things to bring up that weren't so perfect but do require being addressed. First, how the buck did RD's parents not know she was a Wonderbolt? I know they said at one point that they didn't go to Wonderbolt performances so long as she wasn't in them, and that it's not like they have television or the Internet, BUT they do have newspapers, which presumably have sports sections, and I have a hard time believing that it was never reported in a Cloudsdale newspaper that a national hero from that city had been inducted into the Wonderbolts. They sure didn't look like they were living as hermits either. I suppose I could believe that RD would be anal enough in her attempts to keep them from finding out that she'd be willing to steal their newspapers, but until I hear for sure that that's what she did, I'm just gonna chalk this up to a tiny bit of lazy writing. Second, there was only one section of this episode I didn't particularly care for, that being when Scootaloo had her exposition dump of RD's time in the Wonderbolt Reserves to RD's parents. Don't get me wrong, I could totally see her telling them this stuff, I just don't know why we needed to see it. It felt forced and awkward in its delivery (although her parents reactions, especially Windy Whistles, were pretty hilarious and adorable), but this felt more like exposition for the sake of audience members who never saw these episodes than anything that we needed to see her parents learn. It wasn't awful, just wasn't executed particularly well. Other than that, I literally have no other complaints for this episode, it was just that great. The Ideal Season 7 Episode I said to a friend after watching this episode (*cough* Jeric *cough*) that, overall, this episode encapsulates everything I'd want in a standard episode in the 7th season of MLP:FiM. This show is so established at this point, that you can't just keep doing the same thing you've done in other seasons all the time. You need to have payoff! Payoff doesn't just have to be for long-term storylines, the most important in all the show; it can be for smaller story threads as well, things revolving around main characters like RD or Scootaloo, or even background/supporting characters like Derpy and Thunderlane. The point is, this show has made it clear that there is a distinct passage of time by this point. It may be difficult to follow at times, but it's safe to say that at least years have passed by this time in the show. This isn't always made clear, but it's great when the show does recognize this, in big and small ways. Besides the triumphs of backstory and continuity, the introduction of RD's parents to the show was seamless. This is not always the case when it comes to the parents of a main character; sometimes they're too similar to a character to be distinct, other times they're so different that you can't believe they even are the parents of a certain character. But in this case, not only did Bow Hothoof and Windy Whistles most definitely seem just about right in their behavior to be RD's parents, but they were also plenty distinct. They weren't freakish athletes just like her (as far as we know at least), they weren't trying to vicariously live through her by making her achievements their own, and they weren't her polar opposites. They were just parents with a ridiculous amount of love for their daughter, and by the end of the episode showed themselves to have plenty of love to spare for others as well, in this case Scootaloo. Their introduction was so smooth, so seamless, that the episode barely can be said to have revolved around them; oh sure, they were main characters of it, but they felt very much like they fit naturally alongside characters we've been following for over six seasons like Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash. THAT is how you introduce parents of main characters at this point in the show. Overall, this is the greatest triumph of Season 7 thus far, just an absolutely phenomenal, nearly flawless episode in every which way possible. If we get more episodes like this this season, you certainly won't find me complaining, and here's hoping we get more episodes featuring Mane 6 parents or even more backstory/continuity for characters like Derpy or Thunderlane. That's all I've got for ya'll this week everypony. Until next week, this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit*
  3. The Season 5 premiere brought to us many things; prediction tables that shoot friendship lazers, Spike playing card games with Big Mac, communist ponies, abnormally-talented unicorns and sticks that were found out in the middle of the desert. But more than anything, this premiere brought us not one, but two new background stallion ponies who had an absolute plethora of lines and character development in just two episodes. Double Diamond and Party Favor have hit the fandom like a hurricane in just the pasty twenty four hours, joining the ranks of Thunderlane, Braeburn, Soarin and the few other background stallions who've gotten attention here and there. * I come to you strange horses today to offer all of us signatures! * To unite those who enjoy the new, talkative stallions who've been introduced into the world of colored pastel horses! * Be it until next week or a month from now, these signatures are free to use, and I encourage you to use them if you find them to your liking. Make a post letting us know, so that your name can be added. Participate in the fun! Join in on the Husbando Hurricane while it lasts! The larger version may have text, but the smaller version has Soarin is checking out some horsebutt. Get em while they're hot! Large Version - Donors & Staff Small Version - Regular Users Background Stallion Fans: ~Chaotic Discord~/~Cute Ski Horse~
  4. I thought it would a be fun thing experimenting on faces and expressions and stuff, so I made a batch of smile shots for two of my OCs, and two canon characters. I chose them because, aside that I included my OCs, those two stallions are one of my most favorites, even though they're just background characters. Yeah, it was loads of fun doing these, as well as spending lots of effort on trying to maintain the quality I wanted for these icons. I wanted to make more, but these took me like a week to finish just four, and I had to move onto newer projects eventually. However if you're interested, in my Deviantart account (www.buizelcream.deviantart.com) I will be opening pony commissions, and these icons will be available to choose for commissions, either you want me to draw your OC or somepony from the canon series. So anyways, I hope you enjoyed what I made so far, and probably I'll be making more soon. You can only probably recognize Thunderlane from the entire four, but still, I hope you like the rest. Lightning Rider (OC) Thunderlane Mercury (a.k.a. Starry Eyes according to the official MLP cards) SwiftDust (OC)
  5. I tried re-drawing it on the 2 programs I have on my iPad (where I draw digitaly), Adobe Photoshop Touch and Adobe Ideas. Both tries failed for different reasons. Anyways, since I give up drawing the same thing again, I decided to post it like how it is I accept constructed criticizing and advice ^-^ This is supposed to be my "husbando/waifu" Thunderlane and Mrbrunoh1's "waifu" Spitfire sleeping together (we are twinnies forever).
  6. It's been a really long while since the last time I did some traditional drawings, so here you go guys! Have a smiling Thunderlane sketch portrait~ Thunderlane © My Little Pony:FiM HASBRO Artwork © BuizelCream
  7. First time drawing these guys, Aside from my OC, Saffron there. And second time ever actually drawing anyone from the show. I know there's errors but I tried, ha!
  8. Been wanting to make a reference sheet of my pony OC, Lightning Rider for quite sometime, but before I really hadn't found the time and mood to do it, but eventually the time came, and the mood as well, and here you have it~ =3 It shows pretty basic elements; the different angles of poses, and him wearing the attire when he's on duty, and height differences, and color palettes, and his cutie mark on a transparent layer. It was challenging to make this because I have to make sure everything is accurate and organized. So umm, I hope you enjoy it~ ^^
  9. Thunderlane, a Wonderbolt trainee, Mercury (Milky Way), the space, studious pegasus, Lightning Rider, my OC, and a mail pony, though he's not wearing his cap here. x3 Haven't been quite active here for a while, so I'm submitting this one then. I hope you enjoy it. =) PORTRAIT VERSION:
  10. LIGHTNING RIDER MINI-COMIC: THE TEST FLIGHT I've always wanted to write my own fan-fiction of my OC, Lightning Rider, and I really wanted them to be drawn as a comic. Before going into the main series, which I've planned for, I first tried to make a mini-comic to test myself if I can manage to handle the work, and I'm glad I can. Right now, I'm currently working on the next episode, but this is so far the complete version I've made. =) I hope you will enjoy this one. ^^ *This comic actually occurred around the events of "Hurricane Fluttershy", just to let you know. A brief explanation about my OC: Lightning Rider is a pegasus pony currently living in Ponyville. The ponies who usually accompany him are Thunderlane and Mercury. His special talent is fast-flying, but he's having a hard time trying to realize his full potential. In all his life, he lived with insecurities, fears, and personal doubts, wishing to live a simpler life; never wanting to become the best, but his friends, especially Thunderlane, don't want him to think like that, and they will try to help him all they can for him to do his best in every situation he'll be in. Although it won't be easy convincing him to be because he is highly self-effacing. It will be Lightning's greatest challenge if he would take the path to find himself.
  11. I was practicing on lineless art, and this is what I wanted to draw out. We have Thunderlane, Mercury, and my OC, Lightning Rider. =3 So far, this is the progress I've made. It's kinda hard to get used to it, especially when using my own style. But I hope you enjoyed it for now. ^^
  12. Just thought of wanting to share these artworks through here. So here you go. Background ponies =3 I haven't drawn much ponies yet though, ^^; but more coming soon =3 I hope you enjoy them ^^ Thunderlane Mercury Soarin Flash Sentry Doctor Whooves Braeburn Noteworthy Comet Tail Crescent Moon Pokey Pierce (Pinprick) Star Hunter Caramel
  13. Hey, guys! The name's Thunderlane, and I'm here to kill some time. The boss gave me a few days off in a row from cloud bustin' this week, and I'm drained anyway from having finished the Wonderbolt Academy just last week, so I'm chillin' at home for now. Figured I may as well goof off on the ponynet for a little bit. Just me and this squirt that just walked out of the bathroom. Never seen him before, honest. Might have to call the cop ponies on this guy if he tries to steal any of my stuff. Thunder, you know who I am! And I already said those jokes weren't funny. Anywho, I'm keepin' an eye on the squirt this weekend since the folks are outta town and can't watch em'. So uh, feel free to ask either of us questions or whatever. I'll answer any mares that happen to be out there, and uh...the kid can talk to any of his school friends that might be around~ Hey! I wanna talk to the internet ponies, too, Thunder!
  14. Forlong

    Prefered Rarity pairing

    Rarity has had the most dating out of the mane six. She has a lot of options, so I thought we should have a thread on the topic. The five in the poll seem the most reasonable (though Big Mac is a bit of a stretch). I think it's safe to say that Blueblood ain't getting a second chance. No prizes for guessing where MY vote went.
  15. I find the lack of Rarity/Thunderlane shipfics disconcerting. I decided to help remedy the issue with this oneshot fanfic: https://www.fimfiction.net/story/117041/raritys-hearts-and-hooves-day Any other good Rarity/Thunderlane fics out there?