Jul 19, 2015
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic “Rainbow Falls”
Well, people, you knew it had to happen. The thing about any long-running series is that no matter how good it is, there will always be a few duds in between all the great stuff.
I already received a little backlash when I gave another My Little Pony episode an average score, even though an average score for this show is not a bad score at all. My scores are always relative to the rest of the series, and the average for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is pretty high for this kind of show.
Alas, I have to tell the truth: I found this episode to be a bit of a dud, and well below average for this show. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “Rainbow Falls”.
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We start off the episode with Rainbow Dash giving a pep talk to what is presumably a sports team she’s assembled, consisting of Fluttershy and an infamous background character who now has the official canon name of “Bulk Biceps”, overriding the name “Snowflake” that was previously assigned to him by bronies.
And already we’re running into the first problem of the episode. Look, there’s having a funny joke and then there’s killing the joke by beating it into the ground. Just take Teen Titans Go! over on Cartoon Network for instance, where Raven is a Pony fan, which was at first a cute little inside joke referencing the fact that Tara Strong, who voices Raven, also voices Twilight Sparkle on this show. Then the joke kept on going, and now apparently the only thing keeping Raven sane is her ponies and all she wants is for the entire world to turn into Pony-land. Way to kill the joke, guys!
Similarly, the first time Bulk Biceps appeared, I fully admit I laughed my ass off due to the randomness of a pony looking like this and yelling, ”YEAAHHHH!!”
He’s a funny background character, but just because he works as a background character and became popular among the fans doesn’t mean he works as a main character. Frankly, I think he should remain in the background, being used sparingly and staying funny.
As it turns out, they’re training to qualify for the Equestria Games, in a flying relay race, where teams of three have to fly through an obstacle course and pass the horseshoe onto the next teammate until the last one reaches the finish line. Unfortunately, the team Rainbow Dash has assembled is clearly less than ideal. Bulk Biceps can barely fly due to his massive body weight and tiny wings, and Fluttershy is… well, she’s Fluttershy. We’ve already established that she’s so bad at flying that she downright prefers the ground where she can be closer to her animals.
So… why does Fluttershy even want to compete in this massive competition? Fluttershy, who doesn’t like to compete, doesn’t like to be seen as a weak flier, and overall just plain doesn’t like to be seen by, well, anyone, let alone a large audience? I have no clue. It could be to please Rainbow Dash, but the episode never says.
Moving along, we cut to Rainbow Falls, the location of the tryouts. All of the Mane Six are here to cheer on Rainbow Dash and her team, of course. Applejack baked apple brownies for everyone, Rarity has sewn special uniforms for the team, and… wait…
These are the uniforms Rarity made? I know this is supposed to be a visual gag, but it makes no sense! Rarity is one of the best designers in all of Equestria, and she’s obsessed with making everything look perfect. I can’t even begin to imagine why Rarity would create clothes this ugly and actually put them on display.
I also get that this is supposed to be in contrast to the super-awesome uniforms that’ll appear later in the episode. But-but-but… this is Rarity we’re talking about! She’s an artist when it comes to clothes!
Still though, Pinkie Pie being fascinated with pom-poms is very much in character, so that’s nice.
It seems Rainbow Dash’s team isn’t doing too well during their practice. To motivate her team, Rainbow Dash decides that they should go observe some of the other competitors, specifically the Wonderbolts, who are representing Cloudsdale and have been Rainbow Dash’s personal heroes ever since the beginning of the series.
But then Rainbow Dash sees how cool the Wonderbolts look in action compared to her own team, which doesn’t make her feel all that great.
But then tragedy strikes when one of the Wonderbolt members named “Soarin” crashes and hurts his wing. So now the Wonderbolts are short a team member.
Since Rainbow Dash is already well known for her speed, and well respected among the Wonderbolts due to her great performance at Wonderbolt Academy, they quickly come up with the idea of asking Rainbow Dash to stand in for Soarin. So… the Wonderbolts, this amazing, professional flying team, doesn’t have any alternates?
But Rainbow Dash doesn’t want to just abandon her team like that. Suddenly, Spitfire and the two remaining Wonderbolts turn into devil’s advocates, trying to lure Rainbow Dash over to the dark side and join their team, what with their better training, better uniforms, and just better everything, really.
This immediately angers Twilight when she realizes what’s going on. I mean… how dare Rainbow Dash practice with two different teams! Just curious, are the Equestria Games a serious sporting event for professional athletes or not? Because if they’re not in any way an important event, then Rainbow Dash probably should stick with her team. But if they are, what right does Twilight have to judge Rainbow Dash for taking the opportunity to compete with professionals as a serious athlete?
And it’s not just a decision on a whim for Rainbow Dash: it’s her established lifelong dream, and she even feels really bad about not giving her all to her original team from the beginning. In fact, she feels so bad about it that when Twilight lays a guilt trip on Rainbow Dash, Rainbow Dash finds it so difficult to choose between the two teams that she decides to fake some injuries and choose neither.
Though, I’ve got to say, Twilight’s reasoning here is pretty stupid: “If you fly for Cloudsdale, Pinkie Pie won’t have anypony to cheer for! Rarity’s uniforms will never be seen! And Applejack will have slaved over those Apple Brown Bettys for nothing!” Seriously, Twilight? Are you for real?
No! Don’t follow your dream and compete with the Wonderbolts, because Applejack’s cakes! Applejack’s cakes!! Which we’re probably going to eat anyway, so it doesn’t really matter, but cakes!! How dare you, Rainbow Dash? How dare you?!
So Rainbow Dash is put in a hospital bed right next to Soarin, and a new piece of information is revealed: the Wonderbolts, Rainbow Dash’s heroes… are massive douchebags.
Yay, just what I need, more ponies acting like douches. As it turns out, Soarin wasn’t hurt that bad and the other Wonderbolts were just trying to keep him in bed so that they had an excuse to get Rainbow, the better flier, on their team. Though again, as douchey of a move as this is, in a professional athletic contest, you do want the best people on your team. You really shouldn’t lie about it, though.
Then we get to see Rainbow Dash’s replacement on the Ponyville team, and look who it is! Hello, Derpy! I guess the fan rage over you has sort of died down. It’s actually quite nice seeing you again.
Of course we get a big speech from Rainbow Dash, where she confronts the Wonderbolts and calls them out for being the douches that they are, and says she’s sticking with her friends on the Ponyville team.
Ponyville just manages to qualify due to Rainbow Dash’s speed making up for how slow her two teammates are. They’ll probably lose big time at the actual games where hundreds, if not thousands of ponies in the audience will be watching. That won’t give Fluttershy any anxieties at all, I’m sure. And that’s the end of the episode.
Oh dear Lord, where to do I start?
Perhaps I should talk about what actually salvages the episode a little bit, because yes, there are a few saving graces. The jokes do mostly work and are quite funny. Bulk Biceps manages to get a few chuckles out of me, and the return of Derpy Hooves is much appreciated. And we do have a nice little moment where Fluttershy and the other ponies actually completely understand why Rainbow Dash would want to be on the Wonderbolts’s team, and they forgave her in a heartbeat, which is pretty nice and reminds me of the great resolution at the end of “Rarity Takes Manehattan”.
What I didn’t like was how Twilight is the one acting so unreasonable in this episode, and being downright annoying. Also, Bulk Biceps should not have been so much in the forefront, because the joke wore thin very quickly. The Wonderbolts came off less as an inspiration and more like very unlikeable characters, and that sucks. And as cool as it is having the Wonderbolts recognize that Rainbow Dash is a skilled flier on their level, this just wasn’t the way to do it.
I’m afraid this one gets one pony out of five. The episode was a dud. But considering we’re ten episodes in and this is the first real letdown of the season, that’s not too bad. I’m sure that My Little Pony will be back in much better form next week.
[—Editing/cleanup/revisions to this article provided by Dr. Winston O’Boogie and Elliot Hodgett.]