My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic “Flight to the Finish”
Season four of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic finally picks up with the fifth episode “Flight to the Finish”, which seems to have become an instant fan favorite. The reason why it’s become a favorite is because it asks a question that’s been plaguing the MLP fandom for quite a while: What’s up with Scootaloo’s inability to fly? Are we just… never going to talk about that?
There was an infant in the season two episode “Baby Cakes” who flew just fine, and for crying out loud, there’s a pony on this show called “Snowflake” who looks like this…
…and he can fly just fine, but Scootaloo can’t? What’s up with that?
This episode finally decides to delve into this aspect of Scootaloo’s character. Her being a Pegasus pony who can’t fly is, lets face it, kind of like a unicorn who can’t do magic, or a mermaid who can’t swim, both of which would be quite sad, if either of those creatures existed.
As you can probably guess, this being a Scootaloo-centered episode means this is also a Cutie Mark Crusaders episode. The three Crusaders—Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo—take center stage as our main characters here.
The episode begins with an announcement at their school that they’ll be competing to win the right to carry the Ponyville banner for the Equestria Games, the pony universe equivalent of the Olympics.
As Scootaloo’s personal hero, Rainbow Dash brags about how she got to carry the flag when she was their age, and did amazing things with it. Of course, Scootaloo desperately wants to prove that she can do the same, and the Crusaders agree to do their best to win the challenge and carry the flag.
And look, we get the season’s very first song, “Hearts as Strong as Horses”, sung to us by the Crusaders.
You’ve got to admire this show for its consistently good musical numbers, this one being no exception. It’s catchy and upbeat, and for some it may go a bit too far into Cheesy Land when our three little Crusaders sing about how they must have hearts “as strong as horses” to make the perfect flag-carrying act, but I enjoyed it. It was fun and made me smile.
Finally, it’s time for the Crusaders to show off their little routine to their trainer, Rainbow Dash. They decide to do a tribute to how all three kinds of ponies live together in Ponyville (kind of forgetting about crystal ponies there, but three out of four ain’t bad), and what makes them special. Apple Bloom as an earth pony has her extra strong hind legs, Sweetie Belle as a unicorn has her magic, and Scootaloo as a Pegasus… can rip through a paper circle on her scooter.
Rainbow Dash actually loves it, but because she’s been told that she should maintain a professional distance, she simply says that it was “okay”.
Scootaloo ends up taking this the wrong way, and thinks it’s her fault that their presentation doesn’t work, because she’s a Pegasus who can’t fly. She blames herself and her inabilities, and even goes so far as to walk away from the Crusaders, thinking they’ll be better off without her.
Quite frankly, this is a pretty heartbreaking moment, and a very real one. Everybody has things they’re good at, and things they just can’t do, and to realize as a kid that there’s something you want to do but just can’t is a tough thing.
I personally was always terrible at math. I tried my best, with people constantly beating me over the head with it, but no matter how hard I tried, my brain is simply not very good with systems and numbers. On the other hand, I’ve been measured to have an incredible creative intelligence (yes, there are actually ways to measure that. If you suspect yourself of being autistic, that is), the complete opposite, and that’s a true story. I’m sure all of you have a similar story in your past.
Of course, we’re not done yet, as Rainbow Dash comes and beats some sense into all their heads, making Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle realize that Scootaloo acted the way she did because she was upset, and they only made her more upset.
Rainbow Dash then gives a heartwarming speech to Scootaloo. I don’t know about you guys, but it stings me a bit when Rainbow Dash points out that Scootaloo may never get to fly. As in… never ever. But then she also points out that it doesn’t matter. Even if Scootaloo can’t fly, she can do things that Rainbow Dash never could, and she’s a cool little pony no matter what.
It even makes the Crusaders’ act stronger, as it shows that there’s room for anyone, even a Pegasus that can’t fly. This would be the human equivalent of, say, including a person in a wheelchair and acknowledging that the wheelchair guy/girl is also good enough to be there. We all have our handicaps and our strengths.
Luckily for the Crusaders, Scootaloo’s strength is her ability to drive her scooter like it has a jet-pack motor and pull her friends all the way to the Equestria Games, catching up to a train on the way. They make it to the contest, win with their act, and get to carry the flag, and everyone is happy!
Except for Snips and Snails, whose expressed wish for getting to carry the flag in the beginning of the episode was laughed at, and in the end, they get the shaft, as always I guess. I would have at least given them a sugar cube or something!
I can understand why this episode became an instant hit with the fans. It’s not the best Cutie Mark Crusaders episode out there, but it is a really good one. But what keeps it down is its clumsy structure. You think it’d be about how they’ll get to carry the flag, but suddenly the episode changes focus completely, to be about Scootaloo and her feelings about her inability to fly. As it should be, if we’re going to be frank. It’s a genuine handicap, like being an amputee in the real world, and quite sad when you look at it that way.
But even though this plot arrives quite abruptly and seemingly out of nowhere, it’s really good and the kind of story the fans have been longing for for a very long time. It’s a harsh and tough subject to get into, and I wish the episode would have spent more time on it, with a little less on the flag carrying, but even so, it’s handled quite well with dignity and maturity.
The speech Rainbow Dash gives is to the point, heartfelt, and earnest. When this episode finally comes around to its message, it gets it right. On top of that, we have the first song of the season, which was very good.
I give this episode 3.5 out of 5 ponies. An above average episode for this show. Good job, show!