Yes, we have a Search Option

Loading...

16 December 2012

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Wonderbolts Academy" Review


Have you guys ever watched a TV show called “The Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy”? It’s probably one of the pillars of science fiction, based on the novel of the same name, and then adapted into a movie starring Martin Freeman from “The Hobbit: An unexpected journey”. I bring this up because, in this TV show, there is a moment where two characters go talk to a super advanced super computer that has been calculating the answer to the question: “What is the meaning of life, the universe and everything?” When it comes to deliver the answer, the computer, very apologetically, tells them: “You are really not going to like it”. Well, imagine the computer is not a computer but a fairly chubby, twenty seven year old, Spanish guy who writes reviews of pony episodes in his spare time. I can totally understand the computer now. I can understand the dread it feels before delivering its answer. Because, seriously, you are really not going to like what I have to say about this episode. Unless your opinion is similar to mine, of course. On to the review!

Shortest TL; DR I have ever done. Is this episode good? Objectively speaking, yes. Did I enjoy it? No. If you want to find out why keep on reading.

So the episode starts, being this a Rainbow Dash centric episode, at Rainbow Dash’s house, most specifically with the Mane Six waiting underneath it for the mail to arrive with a letter from the Wonderbolts Academy. We see Pinkie Pie bouncing up and down, left and right, completely bonkers and out of control as she is freaking out with worry about the mail. When will it arrive, and if it does, will they be good news or bad news? We learn through this exposition that Rainbow Dash is waiting to see if she got accepted or not. After a few hijinks with Pinkie, she crashes onto the mail pony who delivers the letter to Rainbow Dash, whom proceeds to open it and find out that she got rejected. Not really, no, she got accepted in the academy and she was just pulling the leg of her friends and the audience. That is something very Rainbow Dash, of course being her a character that walks the fine line between nice and jerky. After she survives Pinkie Pie’s bear hug, she grabs her saddle bag and darts into the sky to the academy, but not before Pinkie grabs a megaphone and bends the mountains and the trees with her earth shattering yell, only to remind Rainbow Dash to write her a letter as soon as she arrives, of course, because Dash is always so thoughtful at remembering her friends. I kind of understand Pinkie Pie’s concerns now.

Don't tell me they changed Spitfire's voice again! Who do they think she is? Bonbon!?
After the intro, and another Gak-free commercial break, we see Rainbow Dash arriving to the academy. In there we see some of the different drills the pegasi do, not all of them being spectacular yet as we are just entering the grounds of the place. Their costumes are pretty badass though. There is a fairly strong military feel to it, and I am pretty sure those who love movies like “Starship Troopers” or “Full Metal Jacket” will appreciate this intro. I wonder what the opinion of our military bronies is, so if you happen to be one, let me know in the comments. I have nothing but respect for you guys. Rainbow Dash finally steps in line for the usual check up as Spitfire presents herself wearing a pretty boss pilot jacket and glasses, acting like a tough drill instructor. She spouts a couple of demeaning insults to some of the cadets, like any drill instructor would do, and as she reaches the end of the line we are presented to the new character in this episode, Lightning Dust. Lightning Dust is the only cadet that gives Spitfire a defying reply, which ends with the whole squad doing five hundred laps around the track. Following her orders, the cadets take on the flying and only Rainbow Dash and Lightning complete the five hundred laps in a time record, which brings the two pegasi closer together. I have to admit, I really like how at the beginning they make Lightning Dust such a likeable character. She is brass, but she acts like that because she wants to be the best, and she sees the same in Rainbow Dash. It's interesting since we can consider Lightning to be how Rainbow Dash was in Season 1, so she is basically facing her old self.

Old Rainbow Dash was also going through a crisis of the 80's.
We then cut to Ponyville where we see Pinkie Pie, standing in front of the mail box, pressing F5 over and over again. Maybe she is waiting for Equestria Daily to reply about her fanfic. Not really, she is waiting for Rainbow Dash to send her a letter, and any of us who have been waiting on an email reply from a very close friend or family member knows what it feels like. After one minute of Pinkie Pie speaking like a machinegun we return to the academy, where the cadets are facing one of their first trials: The Dizzytron, which looks like something that would belong in a Nickelodeon family show. It’s a machine that puts the pegasi into a spinning motion, and then launches them into the air, and they have to recover and make a landing without hurting themselves too much. Those who try it barely land properly. When Rainbow Dash gets a turn she recovers incredibly quick, which is no surprise after all the training she’s been doing prior to this episode, and manages to break the academy’s record. However, when Lightning Dust gets a turn, she asks the instructors to put the machine to be set to maximum speed as she wants to test her limits. With the machine at full speed she recovers almost as fast as Rainbow Dash, but doesn’t manage to break the record. Regardless, that’s a pretty impressive feat, especially when you consider how fast the machine was going. After this exercise Spitfire announces she will divide the pegasi into teams, with a leader pony and a wing pony in each. With the confidence only Rainbow Dash can gather she trots into the mess hall to see the lists, and with the disappointment only Rainbow Dash can get, she realizes she was not made leader pony, but wing pony instead, as her leader is Lightning Dust. 

It's like "Top Gun", only manlier.
This causes Dash to storm into Spitfire’s office, where we see the brave and bold Wonderbolts Captain… signing autographs. It took me a moment to realize she was not doing paper work as much as she was stomping her hoof on pictures of the Wonderbolts. Rainbow Dash demands an explanation to why she wasn’t made a leader, and Spitfire simply says that Lightning likes to push her limits, while Dash just stays with what she is familiar with. That makes a lot of sense, we all know how lazy Rainbow Dash can get, and how much of a slacker she is, so when you put a more active pony next to her that flaw will shine like a red beacon. Defeated, Dash leaves the office, as we cut to the next exercise in the course, which is basically capturing the flag. We even have a small moment between Dash and Lightning where the later shows her golden leader pony medal to the former. It’s a very nice touch, and it says a lot about her, it’s like Lightning is saying: “Look, isn’t it cool? We are going to be the best team”. I really liked that. During this exercise there are two teams of pegasi working against each other to capture the flags of the other team. After some scouting around Dash and Dust find a flag in the bottom of a pit, but when diving to get it Dash hurts her wing trying to keep up with Dust. Here we start to see how Lightning is not a very good team player, as she doesn’t give a flying feather whether Dash got hurt or not, and apparently Spitfire doesn’t seem to care either. She looks rather peachy about Lightning Dust being more secure than Rainbow Dash. Back to Ponyville, we see Pinkie is still standing in front of the mail box, with clear signs of being sleep deprived, her hair is all messy and she has big bags under her eyes. Seeing as she will never leave the mail box alone, Twilight suggests Pinkie to write a letter to Rainbow Dash, but Pinkie goes the extra mile by suggesting they all go deliver a care package to her at the academy. Rolling their eyes, the rest of the mane six agree to go. Back to the academy, the next exercise is taking place: An obstacle course full of clouds, lightning, air currents and storms, which the cadets have to traverse through without the need to be the first, since it’s not a race. All they have to do is finish the course regardless of the time. However, this doesn’t faze Lightning Dust at all, as she shows that she doesn’t care for rules or her other squad mates. She spends half of the exercise complaining about how slow those before her are, and the other half she breezes through them making them crash into the clouds. This doesn’t seem to anger Spitfire at all, who compliments Dust on how fast she went through the course while breaking another academy record, before going to help the rest of the cadets that got stuck in the clouds. This does anger Rainbow Dash though, as her loyalty shines through and tells Dust to never do that again. You can guess she is going to do this again before the episode ends, as she shows no remorse at all.

Dash: "I feel like Tom Cruise when Dustin Hoffman won an Oscar for Rain Man"
When we return from commercials, we see the squad clearing up the sky in what seems an eventless exercise. It’s so boring and safe that, even though Lightning Dust and Rainbow Dash have cleared way more clouds than any of the other pegasi teams, Dust wants to get even further ahead. Rainbow Dash, remembering Spitfire’s words about pushing their limits, decides to agree with Dust and see how far they can go together, so she agrees to Dust’s idea and together they create a tornado to clear up the sky. This was clearly as genius idea, as the tornado quickly escapes their control and starts rampaging around destroying everything around it. Things only get worse when Twilight’s balloon arrives at the academy with the rest of the Mane Six, and gets trapped in the tornado, which snaps the ropes and sends the five ponies in a fall to their deaths. Dash sees her friends falling to their doom and, after a hilarious screaming of “No!” she dive bombs to save their lives by creating a spring out of clouds and having them bounce up so the other pegasi can catch them. After landing them all safe and sound at the academy grounds, and making sure they are all okay, Dash and Pinkie are reunited as the pink pony hugs her friend, again, to the point of almost chocking her. Then Lightning Dust shows up again saying how cool that was, showing no remorse or concern about almost killing five ponies, insulting the rest of the teams for being so slow when clearing the clouds, and basically acting like a heartless bitch. And to make things even worse, she offers Rainbow Dash a hoof bump. Rainbow, having had enough of Dust’s attitude, refuses the hoof bump and spouts all the vile that she had been forced to swallow during the last fifteen minutes. But then we have Dust’s response which is all shades of cliché and predictable. She doesn’t care about all the trouble she has caused to Dash, the cadets and the Mane six because the Wonderbolts don’t seem to care either, so Dash takes this matter to Spitfire directly (after Spitfire mentions that they broke another academy record with the clouds clearing) and decides that, if being a Wonderbolts means being reckless and irresponsible, she’s out. But as she is about to leave the academy, Spitfire shows up again, strips Lightning Dust off of her golden leader pony badge, and gives it to Rainbow Dash, saying that she does have the spirit of a leader. After a freak out of the “Oh my Gosh” variety, Dash goes to her squad as they head towards their next exercise, while Pinkie Pie stays on the ground screaming about her care package.

The sarsaparrilla got flat! FLAT I TELL YOU!!!
So that was “Wonderbolts Academy”, and despite it not being a bad episode I can’t say I enjoyed it. 

I will start with the things I liked, just so I can get on the same page of those who did like the episode. I did like Rainbow Dash here, and a lot. She was a very good character, and it shows how much she has evolved from the previous seasons up to this one, especially when you put her in contrast with Lightning Dust. She does show her loyalty, not just to her friends but to her squad mates. She is thoughtful and careful, and she takes everything into consideration, including respect towards Spitfire. Even when she is angry she is respectful and thoughtful. I didn’t expect Dash to word her anger so well when she confronts the Wonderbolts captain at the end of the episode. It was great to see that, at least in what regards to Rainbow Dash, they have kept her consistent. One of the best moments of the entire episode was right after she quits the Wonderbolts, when she steps out of Spitfire’s office she stops for a second to take a quick breath, and her face is heartbreaking. You can feel how much it tears her apart to give up her dream, and how much that affects her. It’s only a couple of seconds, but it means a lot and it gets stronger when her friends are consoling her before leaving. I also really liked the visual aspect of this episode. While it’s not as impressive as “Magic Duel” or “Sleepless in Ponyville” it was a neat touch to see the different set ups that the academy has, plus all the different outfits and the location of the place itself. Also, it wins extra points for the return of Snowflake. He is just…I have no words, he is too good to be real. I liked Spitfire too, but I think I have to explain my feelings towards her more thoroughly. I really liked her attitude and the way she carries herself during the whole episode. I have the feeling many have had this same kind of drill instructor before, and it’s only made better that she is a woman, well, a mare, but you know what I mean. Female military instructors are not seen in movies and TV shows often enough. I also loved how she looks over Snowflake’s wings, only to top it off with an emasculating “You think you’re hot stuff!?” before he sinks into his shame. I did have a couple of issues though with how they handled her character, like having her stand behind a desk and look angry like any sergeant you may have seen in any bad war movie ever, or why would she be signing photos of the Wonderbolts instead of doing other paperwork, but at least she did have a character arc (keep that concept in mind, I will bring it up again soon). At the start of the episode she is your typical drill sergeant, and during the majority of it she doesn’t seem to care for Rainbow Dash’s whining, because she knows she could be better. It’s not until Lightning Dust’s screw up during the cloud clearing exercise that she realizes she could be losing, not only a great flier, but a great flier who cares for the rest of the team, so she decides to swallow her pride, admit her mistake, and make Dash team leader.

"As for you, go peel potatoes on the mess hall, now!"
That’s about everything I liked of the episode, which means I pretty much hated everything else. You know how I always say this is just opinion, I said it several times already in this review, so I will try my best to word it so you understand where I’m coming from, and just so we are clear, my expectations for this episode, as for every episode of the show, where zero. I was ready to be surprised, for the good and the bad. Here’s the bad.

You know the bad is coming because it has a sad pony preceding it.
I hated the writing. I will clarify something right away; I have no quarrel against Merriwether Williams and her writing. I think her work in “Adventure Time” and “SpongeBob” gave some of the best episodes those shows have had. Also, her work in pony has been fairly decent too. I will go to the extent of saying that I do enjoy “The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well” as it is a parody of any 1940’s superhero serial; “Hearth’s Warming Eve” is a wonderful piece of world building that makes me tear up at the end every time; “Putting your hoof down” is a vindictive assault of the real world that makes all the ponies involved suffer with a vengeance and it’s glorious; and even “Dragon Quest”, which I also didn’t like, gave us a very insightful look into Spike’s inner turmoil. She does bring a very interesting twist to this so called idyllic land of magical ponies; she brings the real world to it. Her writing can get cynical and even violent, but that’s why so many people enjoy her style, including myself. So, if I have no problem with her writing in previous episodes, why do I hate the writing in this episode so much?  

To put it simple, this episode gave me nothing. Nothing at all. I can’t take a single thing out of this episode. It doesn’t move from square one. Rainbow Dash goes to the Wonderbolts academy and that’s it. That’s all we are given. She doesn’t learn anything, because she was right from the beginning, Spitfire loses one of her fliers due to her being reckless, and Lightning Dust leaves the episode without completing her character arc. Not even the mane six learn a thing out of this experience. The biggest flaw of this episode is lacking what every piece of fiction must have in both its story and its characters: An arc. There must be a three parts structure every single aspect has to go through, with presentation, conflict and resolution. Here there is none of that. The story is structured so that the climax of the episode is Rainbow Dash giving up her dream, but towards the end her dream doesn’t vanish because Spitfire decides it’s not a good idea to do so, even though Dash is clearly quitting and has taken a decision. And when it ends, it feels like something is missing. It feels like we have five more minutes of episode left to see, which makes me wonder what was the original ending they had planned for this episode. Even if you don’t have a three act structure in the story, at least give the characters a sense of growth. 

Not that kind of growth.
This new pony, Lightning Dust, she starts the episode like a very nice character, and half way through she starts giving signs of being reckless and careless, egotistical and just focused on getting the price. It would make sense that, after the tornado gets out of control, she apologizes and rushes to help Dash fix the situation. But no, instead she becomes even more reckless and careless by showing off, not apologizing, and not giving a feather about what she just did, which is to almost kill five ponies. And to add insult to injury, the story takes her character and tosses her aside. When Spitfire calls for her, and strips the golden insignia from her suit, Lightning just walks away without saying a word. She doesn’t apologize, she doesn’t say a word to Rainbow Dash, even after spending so much time together, which means this potential friendship and conflict that could have happened in here is completely lost. If you are going to make Lightning Dust the Ice Man to Rainbow Dash’s Tom Cruise, you have to give her a proper character arc. You can’t build up this fairly reckless but reasonably likeable character to become an utter bitch when the episode is nearly over, and then just write her off at the end like she is just a grammar error. It’s not like Merriwether Williams has a problem with new characters. She introduced Iron Will and gave him both personality and an arc with no problem, why would she struggle so much with this character? I saw some fans bringing up the fact that Lightning is to Dash what Trixie was to Twilight, an antagonist that may or may not return, but even Trixie had an arc in “Boast Busters”, she showed remorse, she showed some sort of humanity, and when she returned in “Magic Duel”, regardless of how much of a bitch she was, she did have a redemption ending that closed her character arc. Lightning Dust has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, she is nothing to me but a waste of space that could have been so much better had the writer given her a much more proper character arc. When Spitfire, who’s a character that barely had an involvement in the plot, has a better arc than your support character, you have problems.

Which kills me, because look at how cool she looks!
Another problem I had with this episode was how the rest of the mane six are portrayed, especially Pinkie Pie. It’s not like Twilight, AJ, Rarity and Fluttershy had any major part in it, but I am starting to realize how Williams writes each one of them. She focuses on one of their character traits and then exploits it beyond recognition. If Fluttershy is angry then she is really angry. If she is scared of dragons, she is very scared of dragons. If Rarity likes dresses she only talks about dresses. If Twilight does magic she only talks about magic. And if Pinkie Pie is really worried about Rainbow Dash she is only worried about Rainbow Dash. Let’s hope she doesn’t write an Applejack episode or else it will be twenty two minutes of AJ worrying over apples. We can’t use the excuse that she is new to the show anymore. This is the fifth episode she’s written and it still feels like she is trying to get a grasp of the characters. It wouldn’t grind my gears so much, if it wasn’t because the previous episode, “Sleepless in Ponyville” had a new writer attached to it who kept the characters three dimensional and even added traits to their personalities. That episode felt like it belonged within the universe of Friendship is Magic. That episode engaged me, it hooked me, it made me care for the characters. With “Wonderbolts Academy” I didn’t care for anything at all. I didn’t care if Rainbow Dash got into in the Wonderbolts, I didn’t care for Lightning Dust and her behavior, and when the Mane six are thrown out of their balloon and start falling to their death, I was just checking the watch wondering when would the episode end. I hate to write these words, I really do, but I am not going to lie, what would Applejack say if I lie when giving my own personal opinion of this episode?

"Sugarcube, Ahm dissapoint"
You may say that my expectations were too high, but like I said before, I had zero expectations for this episode. I was more than ready to be surprised and I was really looking forward to what we were going to have here. I avoided spoilers, and I saved myself from watching the leaked episode when it was released on Wednesday. I kept myself busy working on drawings, and only when I saw the post on Equestria Daily I remembered that there was a new episode this week. So my expectations were no existent, and I wanted to see what I could get from this episode. What I got out of this was nothing but air. I am not disappointed but I am not satisfied either. I am just very empty. Every episode of this show has given me something, for better or for worse, even those episodes that I did not enjoy at all. This one gave me nothing. Do I feel like I wasted my time watching the episode? Not really. Am I saying this is the worst episode ever? Of course not. Will I watch the episode again? Of course I will, especially if I hang out with friends who did like the episode, or if I feel like watching Rainbow Dash being Rainbow Dash for twenty two minutes. Is this the episode of season three that I like the least? Yes, quite possibly, but then this is my opinion, and I hope I worded this well enough so that you understand where I am coming from. There is a reason why I didn’t link this to Equestria Daily, and that is because I don’t want to throw in a rather negative review out there. I am not used to write them, especially for this show, and lately I noticed that negative reviews get a lot of jimmies rustled in this community, so I don’t want to risk it, even though you guys who read my blog are very level headed, nice and well mannered.

I should also add "Cooler than Spitfire with sunglasses and a jacket"
So, to close the review with my final thoughts: Mediocre storyline, mediocre character arcs, mediocre introduction of a new character, mediocre use of the Mane six, fairly good visuals, okay use of Spitfire, really great characterization of Rainbow Dash, and as always stellar animation. But, you know, this is just my opinion.

- Defining Moment: Rainbow Dash heading to Spitfire’s office and giving back her medal, quitting her position to become a Wonderbolt. The little moment she has after stepping out is heartbreaking.

- Moral: You shouldn’t lose the focus of what matters and forget who you are, just to become the best at something.

58 comments:

  1. Well, I'm surprised you didn't like the episode - but you state your case very well, and I can agree on many of the things you said.

    It's definitely not my favorite episode either, but I will say two things I really appreciated. The first was the direction the story took. Honestly, the moment the first two minutes began, I instantly believed this episode was going to be about teamwork. That Rainbow Dash would struggle with sharing the spotlight with other ponies and try to show off wherever she can, which would get her into trouble and Spitfire would knock her down a few points or something or even tell her if she doesn't shape up she can't be a Wonderbolt.

    After all, everything we see the Wonderbolts do is in a team - but everything Rainbow Dash has done has been alone. So it didn't seem like that much of a stretch of an idea that this might be the issue she would face.

    So color me surprised when it turned out RD was the GOOD pony here lol. Not sure if it makes it better or worse, but it gets me for surprise points at least.

    The second thing I liked from this was the moral I interpreted from it. Which is: When someone else is trying to convince you to do something you know is wrong, don't go along with it - step up and say no, and tell someone. That message I like - it's a very good one that kids need to know.

    And that's really all I have to say haha. Was waiting all night to read your review, and even if it's 'negative', it still is worth the read!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You could argue the fact that Rainbow Dash understands the importance of teamwork when helping her friends on adventures or due to her being the leader of the Ponyville weather team. At least I like to think so. She carried those values with her to this camp.

      Delete
    2. I like that interpretation too, I didn't consider it. Thanks for sharing it man, that's why I like to read the comments in here, you guys give me new ways to approach the episode.

      I have to admit I am warming up to it, but it's still pretty vapid for me. I'm glad that the majority of the fans loved it, since it shows we support this show big.

      Delete
  2. Hmm, what to say?

    I did care if Rainbow got into the Wonderbolts, as this is something that has been building up since the very FIRST episode. I wanted her to succeed, and this coming from a fan that's very mild on Rainbow Dash herself.

    I liked Lightning Dust at first, as I thought the show was lacking in friendly rivals, but then the episode continued and she kinda fell off my radar. She's just not that memorable of a character; just a generic jerk. It's too bad because she showed great promise at the start and I was hoping she'd learn something at the end. But nope, she just walks away. I doubt we'll ever see her again. Shame.

    Also, the RainbowPie shippers are going to have a field day with this one. Pinkie didn't show nearly this level of concern when Applejack was gone in "The Last Roundup". She was more concerned with going to the bathroom.

    I did like the return of some of the lesser used background ponies in this. Seeing Raindrops, Thunderlane, Cloudkicker, that huge white fella and the others was a nice touch.

    I'm wondering if this episode is going to have season long consequences though. Now that Rainbow is devoting her time to Wonderbolts camp, will she be seen in Ponyvilly anymore or less often? Or will the show just forget that this episode ever happened? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

    Till next time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought I heard that Rainbow Dash was going to stay in the camp for a week, so maybe this is just a first step to prove if she is good enough. Maybe come next season she will be working with the Wonderbolts, and living in Ponyville. Both things can happen.

      Delete
  3. Wow... that was a kind of unexpected. I tought that since you're a fon of RD and in this episode she's at the best she can be you would love it, but instead was the exact opposite.... Oh well opinions I guess.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, but I liked Rainbow Dash. She was great in this episode, I really loved her, but everything around her felt wrong for me.

      Delete
  4. I pretty much agree with with everything written here, which is kind of a relief.
    -I like Williams, and I will say that I've liked three of the four episodes she wrote before this (all but Mare-Do-Well), and I agree that she seems to be the odd one out among the writers when you compare her style to others. For the most part, I like what she brings to the show with her writing.
    -I also appreciate that we can have episode where Rainbow Dash can still be Rainbow Dash without being obnoxious or unlikeable.
    -I think the biggest problem with Lightning Dust is that I find everything about her to be boring. Her design makes her look like a RD clone only with a lighter shade of blue and different colored mane, tail and eyes. Her personality makes her look like a less interesting version, though probably not as unlikable, of Gilda, and her voice has almost no personality. She sounds like a background character to me. She may just be the most underwhelming one-shot character on the show to date.
    -While I like how RD remains consistent throught the episode, I don't think that we get enough character out of her in this episode. Most of this episode consists of watching RD and the other pegasi going from one training drill to the next, without much space in between for RD to reflect on what she's doing or if she should do something about LD. It seriously makes the episode lack conflict. We only get to see RD confront LD about her attitude almost at the end. If we had seen RD and LD have a confrontation before, say, act three, we could've established these characters as full-on rivals and we would've gotten a much more exciting episode. I deinitely agree there's very little to take away from the episode.
    -The B-plot with Pinkie Pie worrying about RD just feels like an excuse to shoehorn (poorly) the other Mane Six into the episode. They're pretty much just there so we could get that rescue scene. Also, this episode is a pretty good template to show how you DON'T use PP as comic relief. In most episodes, she delivers a joke and then quickly moves on to the next. In this episode, she's telling the same basic joke over and over again until the end. It's funny the first two times, the rest feel just forced.
    -Someone is going to have to explain to me how did RD make a spring with clouds that could support non-pegasi ponies. What, did she condense the cloud enough so that it could support her friends? It's one thing to acknlowledge that this is a show about magical ponies, and it's another thing to screw around with logic, both my own logic and the logic that's already been established on this show.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm assuming that, like in Sonic Rainboom, Twilight cast the cloudwalking spell ahead of time before leaving.

      Delete
    2. But you're just assuming that. We don't actually see it. And that's a problem.

      Delete
    3. From the fact that RD pushed that cloud together until it started to change colour, your guess is probably right, and it's what I think as well - she solidified the cloud enough to break her friends' fall (I think it doesn't completely stop them, actually).

      Delete
  5. -The ending feels like a massive cop-out. Can you imagine just how ballsy it would be for the episode to end with RD giving up her lifelong dream? THAT WOULD'VE BEEN AMAZING! Probably the most amazing end to an episode ever! It would've also delivered one of the best morals of the series, how sometimes you work hard for your dreams but still, sometimes things don't work out the way you want them. That feels real and impacting and probably applies better for adults rather than children. I love it when children's programming does that. But no, since this is still a children's show, we pretty much have to go back to the status-quo. At the end, the dream is still alive and RD is still training to be a Wonderbolt. I'll admit the moral we do get is also good, but it still feels like the episode backed out of a great opportunity.
    -Also, it's a very pointless ending. We all know that the next time we see RD, she's probably gonna be back in Ponyville, without an explanation for why she's no longer in the Academy. We all know that if RD becomes a Wonderbolt, she'll probably have to leave her life in Ponyville behind, and the series just can't have that. If we do get an explanation for why she's no longer in the academy, it's going to feel like the writers pulled an excuse out of their ass without much thought. The episode could've seriously used a better re-write so that we could go back to the status quo while keeping RD's dream alive. This makes me really want to know what the alternate ending that Meghan McCarthy talked about was.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. RD says at the beginning of the episode, “See you in a week!" That means that the academy is just a short thing, and she'll be back by the next episode. The excuse was built-in! ;)

      Delete
    2. Yeah, I did miss that, but still....you can become a Wonderbolt in a week?

      Delete
    3. It is probably a testing period to see if a pegasus is qualified for a more extensive training period.

      Delete
    4. Fair enough, but still, it doesn't sound very prestigious that you can become of the "greatest flyers in all of Equestria" with one week of training.

      Delete
    5. I heard a rumor that the original ending was going to be Lightning Dust getting demoted, but Rainbow not being let back in. In essence, this would have ended that path to achieving her lifelong dream.

      Delete
  6. Oh, come on! Why do you never disagree with me? =D It's starting to get weird now.
    I was thinking for sure you'd disagree with me this time after I watched Digibrony's video, but nope!
    It's actually very nice. I seem to be really bad at wording my opinions well (all I could think of to describe this episode was “shallow and inoffensive") so it always feels very nice to read someone who can actually put my opinion into words. It help me understand my own opinions better plus I can link to these reviews any time someone asks me why I like/dislike a particular episode.

    Still, one of these days, disagree with me, okay?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I haven't really disagreed majorly with any of your reviews so far, until "Magic Duel" at least. Can't really grasp how you can give "Magic Duel" a straight line of awesome and then dislike this one because of a lack of purpose or arc, when Magic Duel had neither as well. No, there is no "Trixie arc" being finished in MD. Trixie's "redemption" is so hollow and out of the blue that I can't even begin to understand how anyone can believe it's legit. Basically, these two episodes had the same problem: nothing was learned, no story arc and no purpose. Yet one is awesome and the other is average? Your opinion, of course, but I'm not following the reasoning behind it. *shrugs*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Magic Duel" had higher stakes and the character of Trixie was more interesting. Regardless of her redemption being rushed at the end, it was an end for her arc, and it was in tone with the rest of the episode. The predicted interest curve only serves to show my own interest, which of course varies from person to person.

      Delete
    2. Trixie? Interesting? I can't agree with that. She's bland, flat and uninteresting, with no real depth to her. Her motives for "revenge" are stupid and her "redemption" is pulled out of... a not so nice place and unbelievable as a result. There is no "character arc" to speak of since Trixie underwent no journey that we, as the viewer, could witness or that could make us believe in her "redemption". Her "revenge" episode furthermore depended on a mcguffin in order to get its plot going. This episode at least didn't need that, and just continued on a plot point (of sorts) of a character we actually care about (Rainbow Dash and her dream) and who we actually watched develop.

      It's just opinion of course, but I never understood why everyone was so pleased with Magic Duel when to me it belongs at the bottom of the list not only of this season, but ever. My impression was that people saw Trixie and just kept staring at her, ignoring all the weaknesses. The same happened with "A Canterlot Wedding".

      No offence meant with any of the above, it's just my opinion.

      Delete
    3. No-one Interesting17 December 2012 at 15:40

      No offence meant? Clearly with a post that ranty and bile-filled towards a character you dislike, there was clearly offence meant to the character of Trixie. Don't mean to bring up semantics but it's the Internet. We twist everything around to suit our own ends because we know our opinion is correct, right?

      I personally like Trixie's character because of her speech pattern, abilities and the fact that she had her stage-coach/home destroyed thanks to Ponyville's meddling, in turn, a big motivation to become a villain rather than just a jerk which she started out as but became a villain later. I'll admit that the ending did seem rushed and a big 180 after her short tyrannical reign but I like the character to forgive it. Now Gilda, there was a flat, boring and uninteresting character. Never going beyond snarky 90s speak and Fluttershy abuse!

      I'm not against anything negative, in fact looking back, the episode is alright for individual moments, like Snowflake chewing them clouds like a boss and other than that it was okay, I'm just saying you're being a little bit dishonest when you say you mean no offence, since clearly some offence was meant because you attacked something. Attack=offence.

      Delete
    4. Who are you to decide what I did or did not intend with my posts? If I say I mean no offence, then I mean no offence. And if I did "attack" Trixie's character, well, boo hoo, sorry for hurting the feelings of a non-existent cartoon character who isn't real.

      Delete
  8. The Military Bronies FB page pointed out a couple of background ponies who do look like Maverick and Goose http://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc7/386133_377595669000588_106299598_n.jpg

    So there WAS a deliberate Top Gun shoutout after all!

    I liked Spitfire's characterization in this episode, mainly because it showed that she takes her job as Wonderbolts Captain seriously, as well as how professional she is. She's very personable and friendly outside of her job, but when training new recruits she is a hardass and right in your face. Having hung around with former and current US Marines I can say that this is exactly how real Soldiers do act. I'm a bit on the fence about her new voice, but it does give her a military sounding tone so it works here.

    Was nice to see more of how the Wonderbolts operate. It's pretty obvious now that even though they're a stunt team they operate like a military's flight demonstration squad, such as their real world inspiration the Blue Angels. Of course we don't know if they're just meant to be a flight demo squad or if they are means to be the Equestrian Air Force but Fanon can decide that.

    This was one of the few episodes where Pinkie Pie's behavior really did annoy me, and I don't like it when she annoys me because she's such a good character. But her obsession with Rainbow Dash was so great that it was a borderline Romantic Plot Tumor. The RarityJack moments we've had so far have been mainly just a subtle wink to the periphery demographic, subtle enough that they don't draw attention to themselves but still plain enough to see for anyone who bothers to look. The RainbowPie moments here though were about as subtle as a JDAM being dropped on your house.

    And I do agree about the ending, that was really my biggest problem with the episode after the incessant RainbowPie moments. The episode didn't really "end", it just sort of stopped. When it was over I said "Wait, really? That's IT?! Where's the rest of it?!" To be fair this might be because the show used a 4 act structure instead of a 3 act one so that might have thrown off the timing, but even so the episode just kind of unceremoniously came to a halt, almost like they said "Oops we're out of time, seeya!"

    I would be interesting to see the implications of this ep going forward. While Dashie may not be an official Wonderbolt yet, she's taken the first major step towards joining. I'd say it'd be very likely she becomes one and that could be used to set up a story arc about how friends learn to deal with the challenge of one of their own who is far away, something applicable to a lot of soldiers (or given the target audience, kids who have a friend move away).

    Overall I'd say the ep reminded me a lot of Call of Duty: World at War. It wasn't spectacularly good but it wasn't spectacularly bad either. They really did try to put effort into making something good but in the end it turned out...just OK. For a lot of people simply being "OK" is synonymous with it being "bad" but for me it means an episode is just that, "OK."

    On the plus side, the video editing folks now have ample material for "Danger Zone" PMV's and Top Gun parody trailers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Okay, that is freaking awesome. I need to re-watch the episode again, because I love Top Gun.

      Delete
    2. It's nice reading a review that I agree with. It seems over at EqD everyone loved this episode. But the one thing I would add is that I DIDN'T like Spitfire. The fact there seemed to be absolutely no resemblance of familiarity between Dash and Spitfire (a little bit of "You may have hung out with us at the Gala and saved my life, but don't think I won't go easy on you" dialog would've been nice. That, and her complete lack of foresight of Dust's recklessness and her actual APPROVAL of her methods sounded WAY out of line for her. I think they should have had a new character be the Drill instructor with maybe a "wiser" Spitfire watching on the sidelines. But then it's not like I was heavily invested in her character before.

      Delete
  9. "Let’s hope she doesn’t write an Applejack episode or else it will be twenty two minutes of AJ worrying over apples."

    I laughed.

    Well, that was unexpected. I'd like to cover some points here:

    -I agree with you about Williams reducing the characters to one dominant trait. It's surprising, though, for she totally nailed RD's character in this episode.

    -I don't agree with you about Lightning Dust. In the course of my study, I've found myself in a competitive environment (the prépa french system) and I can very much relate to RD's situation. People like LD do exist, even if the consequences of their behaviour are not so serious. Also, I don't really see where is the problem about leaving LD "not learning anything". She was punished for her actions and we clearly see that she's not happy about it. She has a lot to think about, and my guess is that she's going to.

    Oh, well, but overall, great review as always! Even if I don't agree with you on some points, you formulated your criticism really well, and I can see where you're coming from. Good job!

    You should send your review to EQD, by the way. I doubt that anyone get upset, given how respectful and well written it is.

    Simontheb



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't want to send the review to EqD this time, but mostly to save them the trouble of possibly moderating the response to a negative critic of this episode. Besides, Cereal loved the episode, and summoning the wrath of the #1 Rarity Fan is something I don't want.

      Delete
    2. Well, looks like Calpain posted your review anyway....
      http://www.equestriadaily.com/2012/12/nightly-roundup-529.html#more

      Simontheb


      Delete
  10. I had the same tl;dr but with different details. Rainbow Dash I loved, which I don't always; this was probably her best sustained appearance since "Read It and Weep" for me. The Mane Six stuff I had mixed feelings about: for example, Fluttershy's little moment after being rescued was funny but felt a bit off. I really didn't like Spitfire. Doesn't matter if her personality is realistic for (American) soldiers; I've never been a fan of most US war films for that reason. Anyway, with a name like that she should be talking in a WW2 RAF officer's style! Ahem.

    I was really surprised by the episode's ending. After everything that went before I would have put money on Rainbow deciding that being with her friends beat everything -- even being a Wonderbolt. Lots of unanswered questions about where this leaves RD in future episodes, so I look forward to seeing how that plays out. (I suspect we won't know for a little while.)

    ReplyDelete
  11. What I like about your blog is that you state your opinion well and put reasons behind it without attempting to offend anyone.

    I am not really sure where I am on the opinion part myself. Maybe I should see the episode again.

    ReplyDelete
  12. "my expectations for this episode, as for every episode of the show, where zero." You mean were zero.

    I'm sorry I have nothing else to say.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have to agree with you, there. This episode wasn't bad, it was just... There.

    The main problem that I have with it is that the writing in this episode felt... different. I don't have a problem with Williams, since I loved Putting your Hoof Down and Hearth's Warming Eve, and I would be lying if I said I hated this episode. But still, some of the exchanges felt like they were placed there because the episode felt the need to prove a point. Rainbow Dash questions why she's a Wingpony instead of a leader? Spitfire replies with a "Do you have a problem with that?" We needed someone to be rescued from the tornado at the end? Have Pinkie Pie be 10000% more esquizophrenic than usual, and take the balloon to the academy.

    You already mentioned all of the problems that I have with Dust, and quite frankly, I agree with all of them. She left us with a taste of nothing in our mouths, since she ended up being a one-dimensional bully thanks to her actions in the very end of the episode. If she apologized, if she tried to rescue the main five alongside RD - that would have made her more believable and interesting. Heck, there's a way to make Lightning Dust WAY more compelling and interesting: instead of having Dash hurt her wing during the Flag practice, why not Dust, as the leader? Somepony that's so intent on getting better and proving that she's the best, she's not afraid of getting hurt in front of everyone, pushing herself despite having a hurt wing. That would have changed the episode's perspective completely. Alas, no such thing came to pass, and we got the ending that we got.

    ...I don't know. I don't hate this episode, but for the first time in this show I felt like I witnessed very poor lack of proper resource management, and it irks me. Maybe if this episode had more time, or if Pinkie chewed on the scenery less, we could have had something that worked better than what we got... But what we got is what we got. 5/10, average, don't hate but don't like either.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anyway, has this episode beated Over a Barrel as worst episode for you? Or they tied?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It didn't.

      I don't think "Over a Barrel" is the episode I like the least, I think "Dragon Quest" is the episode I like the least, but that's because I hate the whole "teenage bullies" mentality that is also present in so many other media, especially in shows for kids and Stephen King novels. I hated every character in "Over a Barrel" except the Mane Six, but in "Dragon Quest" I hated every character but Spike. Quantity counts here, and so "Dragon Quest" is the episode I like the least.

      "Wonderbolt Academy" doesn't even come close to "Dragon Quest". It has it's own cattegory for boring and empty episodes, and it's pretty lonely in there.

      Delete
  15. I gotta disagree about Rainbow Dash not learning anything. She learned that you need to stick by your morals even if it means sacrificing your dream. She learned the team she idolized for so long just may not be the right fit for her. She learned to question her place as the best and not get complacent. She learned to push herself. BUT she also learned temperance is a virtue, she learned that on her own and challenged her idol with it. That takes serious guts.

    I loved this episode, every bit of it, right up until the end. Spitfire learns her lesson about encouraging reckless behavior and recognizing true leadership qualities and Lightening Dust… gets kicked out? For doing exactly what her instructors encouraged her to do? The lack of arc for her was the episode's downfall. We get no resolution, it just looks like she was screwed by crappy teachers. Keep doing exactly what you're doing, that's perfect. Except no, we changed our minds. With no explanation. Prime embarrassment, unnecessarily cruel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She did sacrifice her dream, but that sacrifice lasted one minute, as Spitfire returned to give it back to her.

      Delete
    2. I would've loved to see this episode have a downer ending. RD quits, LD gets court-marshalled for endangering the lives of ponies with her reckless actions, maybe have RD swear at the end to become better than a wonderbolt, in her own way.

      I really think this episode would've been stronger if it focused entirely on RD at the academy. The time spent on Pinkie Pie is really wasted, as she never changes from her singular obsession with communicating with RD.

      Delete
  16. Este episodio a mí me disgustó batsante, por varias razones.

    La principal es que siento que desperdiciaron grandes oportunidades argumentales. Hubiera sido GENIAL que Rainbow Dash renunciase definitivamente a su sueño con los Wonderbolts, que al final Spitfire no la hubiera metido de vuelta a ser cadete.

    Digo, RD habría podido aprender al final que nuestros ídolos y a quines tenemos en un pedestal no siempre son lo que parecen. Es una moraleja interesante (la serie Oye Arnold! la usó varias veces).

    Así tendríamos entonces un nuevo objetivo para RB para el resto de la serie: encontrar una nueva meta.

    Pero bueno...

    LD también pudo ser escrita mucho mejor. Sentí que durante casi todo el episodio ella era muy competitiva y medio irresponsable, pero al final de repente se volvió TAN apática que no le importa que cinco ponys casi se murieron.

    En fin. Tocará esperar al próximo episodio. Excelente blog. Saludos.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I don't really know why I liked the episode, but I did. It didn't fit well with the rest of the series, or the world as we know it. Maybe that was why I do like it - because it was different. Other thoughts: Pinkie was too one dimensional, to the point she was a stranger. I did like seeing some of the other background characters actually being used. I was pissed off about the bloody minded removal of Derpy from all things FIM. Perhaps the best part in the episode for me was Fluttershy and her earth pony mentality - so reinforced that she forgot she had wings until after she was rescued.

    ReplyDelete
  18. When I first read this blog back on Sunday, I was a bit surprised that you didn't like this episode as much as I did.

    I really thought that Rainbow Dash was characterized well, and I think this is probably the best characterization she has ever gotten. What surprises me is that this episode was written by Merriwether Williams, the writer who wrote what I consider the worst episode in the series (you know what I mean), and features the worst characterization of Rainbow Dash. To see her write Rainbow Dash so well here was pretty surprising.

    On Lightning Dust, although she's not one of the best antagonists in the series, I think she served as a great foil for Rainbow Dash and her character provides great contrast to Rainbow Dash's.

    On Pinkie Pie, at first I didn't like how exaggerated her character was in this episode. But after a while, my opinion on Pinkie Pie in this episode has improved somewhat. Despite how over-the-top she was in this episode, I still liked that she shows concern towards Rainbow Dash. I found this portrayal of Pinkie to be at least okay.

    On Spitfire, I didn't really mind the way she was characterized in this episode. After all, she was just playing the drill sergeant role, and I think she played it well. I actually liked her more. Her voices, I didn't mind too. So overall, I thought she was a pretty good character.

    Overall, I thought this was a great episode. Merriwether has improved a lot since her Season 2 episodes, especially The Mysterious Mare Do Well, and definitely her best so far. I'm hoping that she keeps the same level of quality on her future episodes. This doesn't beat Sleepless in Ponyville as my favorite episode of Season 3, but this is certainly my second favorite.

    ReplyDelete
  19. You, good sir (if ma'am, I apologize :) ), have just earned my respect for being able to articulate your against-the-world opinion so clearly.

    To be perfectly honest, I agree with you 120%. Especially on the writing part. The ending felt abrupt, rushed and left the episode with no moral. And you can do that stuff right (Super Squeezy Cider something 6000 comes to mind - AJ hadn't learned crap then too ;) ).

    Contrary to you, however, I have to admit I also hated the whole Spitfire thing. Regardless of whether she forgot the pony that saved her life, or simply chose not to show it for the sake of being a professional, the uncaring attitude she presented in the episode was definitely not something to be proud of. And if that's the attitude they teach at the academy, it's no wonder Wonderbolts can't be of much use when it actually matters (rescuing a falling unicorn, fighting a rampaging dragon, helping in a logistic water transport problem). Seriously, I think Rainbow Dash would be better off without joining WB. Unless she has the guts to change them from the inside to an organization they probably once were (the fame has to come from something). Which I'm sure she has. :)

    I have to honestly admit I can't understand all the hype this episode gets, but it's probably just me. I'm glad to know I'm not alone being able to see the blatant flaws in the episode writing (or maybe it's the problem of just voicing it, I don't know).

    Kudos to you, sir, for judging the episode (in my opinion, at least) objectively and not giving in to all the hype. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your appreciation!

      I have to admit, I never considered myself literate enough to voice my own opinion without sounding like a raging maniac (like many other internet denizens do). However, the feedback from all of had led me to realize that I can voice my thoughts fairly well. Thanks a lot for your comment, it means a lot to me and makes me want to keep writing these reviews.

      Delete
  20. What worried me in this episode is also that it revolves around pegasi and there wasn't Derpy there! While she was in Hurricane Fluttershy a lot. I don't understand why Derpy wasn't even in pegasus episode! This is really worrying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you like a show because of an animation error, you have problems.

      Delete
  21. The original ending had Rainbow Dash quitting and leaving depressed while Spitfire demoted Lightning Dust to a wing pony.

    ReplyDelete
  22. "Let’s hope she doesn’t write an Applejack episode or else it will be twenty two minutes of AJ worrying over apples."

    Thats ironic considering the next episode is about just that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, but at least they kept Merriweather Williams away from that one.

      Delete
  23. Also someone did link this to Equestria Daily..that's how I found it! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  24. Also in case you were wondering what my thoughts were on the episode here is what I wrote. "To be painfully honest with you this episode pissed me off especially the ending. It's spitfire's NEGLIGENCE that almost got the trainees killed. NOT ONCE throughout the whole episode did she berate or get onto Lightning Dust for being reckless and endangering her fellow teammates, thus giving her reason to believe continuing to act in such a manner was alright. For fuck's sake at the end she even said the "tornado" tactic was a good idea! It was only after Rainbow said she was quitting did she decide to do her fucking job. I think it was grossly unfair for Rainbow Dash to get out of this whole charade unscathed and unpunished (remember she did partake in that extremely dangerous tornado idea). I do not believe Lightning Dust should have been kicked out of the academy like that since she was never disciplined or given warnings in the first place, and if you kick her out by all logic you should kick Rainbow Dash for going along with the stupid thing. I'm really starting to find disinterest in these recent episodes with all the plot holes and false character logic that I am seeing this season. I'm becoming more and more unmotivated to even give a damn about new episodes. Don't ask for specifics about what I hated about the past few since I had already forgotten what pissed me off about those which goes to show the series is beginning to suck. For me at least."

    ReplyDelete
  25. http://www.abload.de/img/scriptb1kg2.png - Someone posted the original scripted ending here. I personally think this should've been the one they used.

    ReplyDelete
  26. That was an OK episode.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Here's your word from a former military pegasister: I didn't like the military implications of this episode AT ALL. There has never been any kind of hint that the Wonderbolts were pseudo-military prior to this episode, except possibly in "Secret of My Excess" when they showed up to try to save Rarity from giant Spike and failed in four seconds flat. Other than that, they've been a group of stunt fliers. Performers. There was no basis for the military aspects of Wonderbolt Academy and it felt out of place in the Ponyverse. This place is supposed to be run on friendship and love (see "elements of harmony," "discord," and "crystal empire") so why on earth are we watching Spitfire verbally spank a bunch of hopeful ponies and put them through quasi-sadistic tests just to crush most of them dreams by episode's end? Really, there's no question of whether or not our real world military has the slightest bearing on the way the 'military' is portrayed in this episode. My military was created to kill people as efficiently as possible with a wide variety of weapons, and generally our enemies are absolutely barbarous, savage monsters that want to do far worse things than make chocolate rain from the sky. God forbid that Equestria ever has to try to incorporate that crap. I watch MLP to not think about that, for Christ's sake. And given that Equestria HAS a military force led by Prince Shining Armor and the Mane Six have been sufficient to handle all the threats to the country so far, it makes absolutely no sense to make the Wonderbolts anything but what they've been so far, which is stunt fliers that make the sparklies at the Grand Galloping Gala. Whether Spitfire pulled off a believable drill instructor is beside the point. The voice actress did fine. Why is Spitfire a drill sergeant in the first place?

    There are any number of ways the idea of a Wonderbolt academy could've been handled minus the pointless military stuff; maybe Rainbow Dash has to cope with actual competition and realize that she's not going to be the best on day one; she's going to have to work for it. I could write an episode of an overconfident Rainbow Dash sauntering into the academy to find a half dozen other talented fliers, down to the "Dear Princess Celestia, I realized that just being talented isn't good enough, you have to work hard in order to be the best," in my sleep. But then I also hate RD and would have entirely too much fun flattening her ego for the first fifteen minutes of the show.

    This episode, like almost every episode this season, did not work for me. I actually started paying attention to who writes the episodes and the songs in season 3 because it's taken such a noticeable downturn. If this had been the first episode I ever saw, I never would have watched another.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For the most part, the Wonderbolts were inspired by Blue Angels. If you wanna know who they are, see this:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Angels

      Delete